Foreign Diplomats at a major dialogue have cautioned students at the University of Liberia and Liberians in general, to renounce violence in the run-up to the October 2023 presidential and legislative elections.
On Monday, January 23, 2023, the French and German Embassies near Monrovia hosted the dialogue on the Capitol Hill campus of the University of Liberia (UL) to consolidate peace, security, and development.
The dialogue was part of a series of engagements being held based on the concern, encouragement, and motivation expressed by international partners who work and live in Liberia, seeking to help Liberians walk a strong and peaceful journey to the 2023 elections.
Partners of this exercise include multiple international institutions and different countries which include the UN, EU, US, UK, and ECOWAS.
At the start of the dialogue, both the German and French Ambassadors made separate presentations and shared lessons with the audience on how to consolidate peace, security, and development.
In a subsequent session that was interactive, students and the invited guests had the opportunity to make comments or ask the two presenters questions.
‘German Ambassador to Liberia H.E. Dr. Jakob Haselhuber said the lesson for Liberians in the run-up to the elections is that all parties should renounce violence.
He stated that peace is not just the absence of violence, but it’s something that has to be worked for and fought for.
He recalled a violent clash that occurred near the United States Embassy on July 26, 2022, when protesting students of the University of Liberia met another youth group.
“So, these acts of violence must be prevented,” said Amb. Haselhuber. He cautioned against risking a lot and going back to the dark times. He recommended peace as an absolute objective that must prevail in Liberia.
The French Ambassador H.E. Michael Roux, said if you want an example of peace within a nation, he thinks Liberia should be a good example. He noted that after years of conflict, the country has embraced peace.
ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia, H.E. Josephine Nkrumah, explained that Africa has had its fair share of wars, but the important thing is moving forward beyond that.
She said following their past conflicts, the way France and Germany forged ahead can also happen among Africans.
But the ECOWAS Envoy said this can be achieved “if we have a mindset … that allows us to appreciate each other’s difference, each other’s diversity, each other’s unique experience, each other’s unique culture, language, way of eating, way of dressing.”
With the presence of the youth at the dialogue, Amb. Nkrumah said she would like to urge everyone to appreciate their diversity and begin to think constructively that Africa is one continent, “we are one people, and we possess so much in terms of human resources and natural resources.”
She believes that if Africans can appreciate these things, Africa indeed is the future.
The President of the University of Liberia, Prof. Dr. Julius J.S. Nelson, Jr., welcomed all invited guests, members of the diplomatic community, and international partners to the University.
Dr. Nelson said the University was privileged to have served as the platform for the dialogue hosted by the French and German Embassies in Liberia to consolidate peace, security, and development.
“Because we believe that the focus of these dialogues on peace, unity, and security, reconciliation, development [are] also in the best interest of the University of Liberia, and the People of the Republic of Liberia,” said Dr. Nelson.
Giving a background of the dialogue, Prof. T. Debey Synde, Director of the Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation, explained that international partners who work and live in Liberia have expressed their concern, encouragement, and motivation to help Liberians walk a strong and peaceful journey to 2023 elections.
He said the dialogue started sometime last year through a series of engagements with members of the diplomatic corps and international partners.