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Joint Council of chiefs and elders sign communique

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A joint communiqué has been signed following series of rigorous negotiations involving chiefs and elders from Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire in the Ivoirian town of Guiglo with a view to enhance bilateral cooperation for social cohesion within the context of the implementation of the Quadripartite High Level Meeting between the Governments of the two neighboring countries.

An Executive Mansion release said, among the several resolutions adopted at the end of the 2nd Joint Council of Chiefs and Elders Meeting (JCCEM) held from January 16 to 18, 2016, the JCCEM resolved that the Governments of both countries continue to strengthen their cooperation towards peace consolidation, stability and security in the cross-border area; take immediate steps to resolve all land occupation-related issues along the common borders; and cooperate with political and administrative authorities, refugees and UNHCR in order to find durable solutions for their reception and resettlement of refugees.

The JCCEM also called on both Governments to hold the 5th session of the joint commission for bilateral cooperation in the coming months, in Abidjan in order to find sustainable solutions to border area issues as well as common interests as part of bilateral cooperation; encourage both Governments to explore ways and means for the implementation of community development projects with the support of multilateral partners; increase the participation of chiefs and elders, youth and women in cross-border peace-building and development initiatives, leading to dialogue; as well as strengthen continuous joint border patrol.

The JCCEM urged both Governments to consult each other in order to implement the right of hot pursuit in compliance with Liberian and Ivorian Laws and international conventions; sensitize the youth on the importance of agriculture and support them through technical skills, training, peace-building initiatives, psychosocial interventions and financial programs; implement the resolutions; and hold the next JCCEM, in Liberia.

Speaking during the elaborate ceremony in Guiglo County, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf described the event as a fulfilling dialogue, which all parties have demonstrated commitment to in spite of the challenges.

The Liberian President said peace is not an option but constitutes a necessity and imperative in the best interest of the people of Liberia. She made a passionate appeal to chiefs and elders to continue to explore all avenues that will ensure peace eludes rancor.

She noted that peace, amongst chiefs and elders represent the cornerstone for sustainable development for our people; adding that she was glad that cross-border violence has seen a sharp decline thus necessitating the compelling need for rebuilding lives and communities.

President Sirleaf indicated that to date some 23,200 Ivorian refugees have been voluntarily repatriated and expressed thanks to the chiefs, elders and people of both countries for the support. She encouraged them to continue to work for peace and strengthen the peace through enhanced coordination and collaboration.

For his part, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara said peace in Côte d’Ivoire was equally essential to the peace and stability of Liberia. He praised the chiefs and elders for their commitment and support to the search for genuine peace and reconciliation for greater stability in the region.

Both leaders, who were greeted by rapturous welcome by chanting and cheering crowd after the County of Guiglo was caught in a frenzy of jubilation, promised to continue their unflinching support towards regular interactive dialogue in sustaining peace and reconciliation. -Press release

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