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Reform agenda shows no impact

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The United Nations Secretary-General has observed that many of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s reforms agenda talked about have yet to impact the country and its people. Mr. Bank Ki-moon’s observation is contained in his latest report on Liberia’s political, social and development goals released in New York.

He said due to no impact, a greater political will is required to expand democratic space and enhance citizen engagement as well as address corruption at all levels of government and society.
According to the UN boss, several reforms are pending before the legislature for action, including on domestic violence, land rights, local governance, and equitable participation and representation.
Members of the legisl tive leadership with whom a UN assessment mission to Liberia met have committed to expediting passage of priority legislations. The lawmakers have subsequently have adopted the land authority bill and ratified 32 protocols of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

“As found in previous assessments, the root causes of Liberia’s conflict remain unaddressed in the absence of meaningful national reconciliation, accountability for human rights violations and abuses, or efforts to develop a shared sense of nation among all Liberians. This has undermined progress in taking forward critical reforms that would broaden political space, develop the security sector and improve governance and rule of law. Many interlocutors expressed the view that, notwithstanding the passage of important legislations during the 11 years under the present Administration, implementation has been slow. As a consequence, many feel marginalized. Members of civil society pointed to poor state-society relations as a risk to sustaining peace, saying that most members of the population believe the Government is unaccountable to them,” the report observed.

The Secretary-General also indicated that relations between the Executive branch of the Government and segments of civil society appear to have improved since the strategic review in 2014. However, it was apparent from all interlocutors that efforts by the Government to communicate with or fully engage the people of Liberia have been inadequate, particularly with respect to seeking their input on reform processes or empowering them as citizens.

Moreover, the UN said despite the creation of several institutions focused on transparency and oversight, the public lacks confidence that the Government is committed to addressing corruption. Several interlocutors expressed the view that the international community should do more to encourage the present Administration to deliver on its promises such as empowering national institutions to carry out their mandates, saying in that regard, they called on the United Nations to undertake a serious introspection about its past mistakes in Liberia, with a view to proceeding in the future on the basis of mutual accountability between the Government and the international community.

The report specifically observed that most interlocutors pointed to absence of political will as reason why national reconciliation has stalled in the country.  Members of civil society informed the assessment mission that they were unaware of any progress made since the elaboration of a reconciliation road map in 2012, and stressed that to be effective, reconciliation must be a comprehensive process guided by vision, taking into account aspects such as dialogue, community empowerment and accountability at the appropriate time.

By Emmanuel Mondaye

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