The just-ended meetings of Heads of State, Chiefs and Elders and Security Chiefs of Liberia and La Cote D’Ivoire in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County is, no doubt, an excellent initiative for regional peace and security in the Mano Rive Union Basin. It is an excellent initiative because, this time, it did not only involve the usual urban bureaucrats, but traditional leaders who are the custodians of the land-an effort that is practical to the maintenance of peace and security, owing to the fact that they preside over the interiors of the two nations.
The gathering of Liberians and Ivoirians in Grand Gedeh is a direct result of intermittent ‘cross-border attacks’ by dissident forces reportedly in support of detained former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo against the Government of President Alhassane Ouattara. Presidents Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her Ivorian counterpart Ouattara last weekend chair a special dialogue on peace and cooperation between the two countries and peoples- a meeting preceded by a four-day conference of Liberian and Ivorian Chiefs, as well as senior security personnel, intended to strengthen peace and stability in the West African sub-region, especially among the four-member Mano River Union countries- Liberia, La Cote D’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
A Joint Council of Chiefs and Elders Meeting held earlier on Thursday got underway in the City of Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County as a follow-up to a tripartite dialogue held sometime this year between the two MRU Countries. Not only did last week’s Zwedru Peace Initiative leave behind an indelible print, but the fact that it brought together the leaders and peoples of Liberia and La Cote D’Ivoire face-to-face and heads-on to discuss the maintenance of peace and security along the porous borders, is an excellent initiative that has now given our traditional leaders and their peoples a new decentralized responsibility in their respective border towns, villages, as well as farms, among others.
The mere fact that the involvement/role of traditional leaders was placed at the core of the just-ended conference, one can freely predict lasting peace and security along the Ivorian-Liberian borders from Mount Nimba to Cape Palmas, provided meeting, discussing and leaving Zwedru were with the highest degree of sincerity and regional patriotism-something we are very cognizant of. We can only hope and trust that the channels of communication between the traditional chiefs and elders and the security apparatus of both nations on one hand, and the security network of the two countries will become more effective and efficient than ever before as a result of the Zwedru Peace and Security meeting.
While our chiefs and elders, as well as the two national security networks must be hailed and encouraged, Presidents Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and Alhassane Ouattara of La Cote D’Ivoire must be commended for their farsightedness and interest in the maintenance of regional p[ease and security. It is our fervent hope and prayer that our two leaders can export such landmark peace initiative to the Economic Community of West African States or ECPOWAS for use as a blue-print for border security and peace in other ECOWAS countries.
This is why we say that the Zwedru Conference is an excellent Initiative for Regional Peace and Security- an effort West African Leaders must welcome from Presidents Sirleaf and Ouattara. As we appreciate these two leaders, we must also express gratitude to the Ministers of Liberia and La Cote D’Ivoire responsible for Local government administrations, as well as other officials of the two countries who worked so hard in ensuring the success of such rewarding conference.