The Assembly which is an annual global event brings together members Countries of the United Nations to discuss pressing regional, and international issues facing the globe at large.
President Weah delivering his address hailed the UN Under the auspices of the UNMIL peace-keepers, Liberians enjoyed sixteen (16) years of unbroken peace.
He expressed Liberia’s gratitude for the efforts and sacrifices made by them to secure peace.
The Liberian leader pointed out that since he assumed the leadership of his Nation almost two years now, he remained focused to ensure that peace prevails in Liberia. “At that time, we committed ourselves to upholding our constitutional mandate”, which is to ensure that all the democratic rights of our citizens would be guaranteed and protected.
“I am proud to say that I have kept this promise; and our country is today a beacon of democracy in Africa, where freedom of the press, freedom of expression, freedom of association and other political and democratic rights are respected”, under the rule of law, Dr. Weah added.
He emphasized that Liberia’s political environment remains vibrant, with political actors and parties freely exercising their franchise and participating in various elections, nothing that there are no political prisoners in Liberia, and existing laws that hindered or threatened press freedom have been de-criminalized.
Reporting to the UN, he indicated that Several protests have taken place from time to time, all of which have ended peacefully, and have been welcomed by my Government, as a positive manifestation of our democratic maturity.
“This is the democracy for which our country has yearned; this is the freedom for which our people have struggled and suffered; and this is the emancipation for which many of our citizens have paid the ultimate price”, said the Liberia leader.
However, he observed and mentioned that Liberia is beginning to witness the emergence of a creeping threat to our democratic space, and to our hard-won peace and stability. Some individuals, within and out of our country, particularly those who have lost democratically-held elections, have resorted to incitement, threats of violence, misuse of social media, and hate speech, with the aim and objective of achieving power through undemocratic means.
This is unacceptable, and must not be encouraged by those who would wish Liberia well. The Nation’s chief executive uttered that for democracy to thrive, all Liberians, including both the ruling parties and the opposition parties, must respect the rule of law, and abide by the procedures and regulations prescribed therein.
On the issue of the TRC recommendations he said It is important to note that the TRC report also recommended the use of a conflict-resolution mechanism that has been traditionally used in Liberia, called the “Palava Hut” mechanism, whereby, in various district meetings conducted by community elders, perpetrators could publicly request forgiveness from their victims, and where the aims of restorative justice could be served.
He reflected in September of 2018 , after first nine (9) months in office, where he indicated a preference for dialogue as a conflict-resolution mechanism, so that as a Government and People, we could together focus our efforts on poverty-reduction, growth, and economic development, rather than on retribution.
However, since that time, there has been a rising chorus of voices from many quarters, calling for the establishment of an Economic and War Crimes Court.
These voices include not only thousands of war victims, but also some of the alleged perpetrators, who seem to wish to either clear their names or their conscience.
Support for the establishment of the Court has also been voiced by many international organizations, as well as some of our international partners.
He stated that ,we are at a loss to understand why the clamor for the establishment of the Court is now being made, almost a full decade after it was first called for, and during which time no such pressure was brought to bear on the government that grew out of the Accra Peace Accord.
Nevertheless, our Government is a listening Administration, and we have been paying keen attention to the voices of our people. What I have discerned from their cries is that it is important to bring closure to the wounds from the 14 years of Liberia’s brutal civil war, and that we need to agree on a mechanism that would guarantee the sustenance of peace, stability, justice, and reconciliation, as well as enhance our prospects for economic recovery, added, Dr. Weah.
Due to the significance of the matter President Weah told world leaders that he has already begun consultations with our National Legislature – the representatives of our people – and we intend to have a broader engagement with the Liberia Judicial System, and with our strategic International Partners and Organizations, in order to determine pertinent issues such as legal framework, timing, venue, and funding, among others.
It is my hope that at the end of this consultative process, a National Consensus will evolve, that will determine the pathway to resolving this issue. I therefore ask for your unflinching support, as we embark upon this important national endeavor.
“We are gathered here today at a time of uncertainty and heightened tension in global politics, security, and trade. The global economy is also under undue stress, security tension is on the rise in many parts of the world, trade protectionism and climate change both are having unintended consequences especially on developing countries”.
Yet, we strongly believe in the ability of the United Nations to maintain international peace and security, foster friendly relations among nations, and promote social progress, better living standards, and human rights. We continue to have faith and confidence in the United Nations as the best universal institution to guide the nations of the world in peaceful and harmonious interactions.
The theme of this 74th General Assembly, “Galvanizing Multilateral Efforts for Poverty Eradication, Quality Education, Climate Action and Inclusion” certainly reminds us about our responsibility to focus on achieving the purpose of the United Nations in principle and practice. My Government has developed and is implementing a national development plan which supports this theme.
Our “Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) is intended to serve as our compass for reconstruction, development, and modernization. While it gives priority to poverty reduction, it is also intended to support the efforts of middle and upper income Liberians to grow and prosper.
It is equally centered on infrastructure development, road construction, road connectivity, and agriculture. Indeed, the PAPD also emphasizes women and youth empowerment, as well as qualitative education and good healthcare delivery.
However, at this juncture we are beginning to face significant implementation challenges, due to the continued decline in prices of our major exports, revenue shortfalls, and structural imbalances. Increasing inflation and currency depreciation tend to reduce the purchasing power of our citizens, thus placing further burdens on their standard of living.
We have exercised our best efforts as a Government to address these challenges, and will continue to do so. Yet, many of them persist, and are claiming our fullest attention in finding practical solutions to resolve them.
Mr. President, we therefore want to appeal to you for your continuous assistance and expertise. My administration has recently developed a new investment framework of incentives and tax reliefs that will directly benefit the private sector, and we hereby invite the investment community to take advantage of this new opportunity.
We have also taken several other initiatives to address these challenges. For example, we are presently engaged in talks with the IMF with the aim of entering into a program with that Institution.
We are also involved in re-organizing the leadership and the management of our Central Bank to make it more efficient, independent, and responsive to the issues of monetary policy formulation and supervision.
As part of our efforts to ensure an inclusive and participatory dialogue on the problems confronting our economy, including the urgent need to proffer appropriate solutions, we recently initiated a National Economic Dialogue, comprising of all local and international stakeholders. We have taken due note of their recommendations, and have already begun to implement those that are most urgent and pertinent.
President Weah therefore challenged and reminded all Liberians to have a responsibility to maintain the peace that they now enjoy, especially those of you who desire to be future leader of Liberia; remember, it was the love of liberty that established us as a country. It was our unity that made us the First Independent African Republic, and it will take our joint efforts to sustain the peace, develop and reconcile our nation and gain economic stability.