The conference brought together over 350 participants drawn from government, political parties, youth groups, women, development partners, civil society organizations, and institutions of higher learning, who were all engaged in different discussions aimed at revitalizing the economy.
Accordingly, among the recommendations presented to President Weah at the end of the forum on Friday, September 6, 2019 by Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh, head of the Secretariat of NED, was the establishment of the court, as one of the means that will bring economic relief to the country.
The stakeholders maintained that the implementation of the proposals should be tied to cabinet’s performance contracts with ministers, deputies, and assistants to sign and the President should immediately inform them about their marching orders.
The stakeholders reminded the Liberian leader that the establishment of this court is in line with the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations.
Reading the document, Dr. McIntosh also called on the President to strengthen his capacity to monitor the implementation and outcome of the just ended dialogue.
“We note, the many economic challenges and are deeply concerned about the hardship brought upon our people as a result of these challenges.We are also deeply concerned about the possible negative impact these challenges could have on the viability of the nation’s state and of the survival of our people,” Dr. McIntosh read the document.”
“We, [members at this conference], reach the general consensus that urgent and strategy program be undertaken by all stakeholders, all arms of government, private sector actors, non-governmental organizations, development partners, individual citizens, and our communities, all stakeholders and these actions should be taken within the next three years, effective from now,” he asserted.
Dr. McIntosh, a former Minister of the then Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs under the regime of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in the Unity Party (UP) led government, stated that the conversations were focused basically on four interrelated areas, namely; the mobilization and management of public finance; promotion of investment and growing private sector business; tracking of existing high unemployment rate amongst the youthful population and the shortage of appropriate skills, and sustaining the peace and bring about genuine reconciliation.
In order for these recommendations to be implemented, Dr. McIntosh, who is also a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, said this requires a high degree of commitment, political will, self-confidence, and sacrifices amongst the Liberian people.
Receiving the document, President Weah thanked the NED Secretariat and conference attendees for their work and vowed his commitment to immediately act upon those recommendations.
He said in a bid to implement these recommendations, he will set up a cabinet committee within the “next few days.”
“Your efforts and contributions will not go in vain. I will do all in my power to ensure that the people of Liberia reap positive benefits from these deliberations,” stated President Weah.
“I want to assure you that my government will take these proposals into urgent and careful consideration. Our focus will be on implementation, although the timing will be a matter for synchronization and harmonization with existing programs and policies,” he noted.
“Additionally, I wish to propose that the National Economic Dialogue take place on an annual basis, in order to conduct an annual review of the progress that has been made on implementation of the road map presented here today, as well as to analyze each year’s current economic situation so that the necessary adjustments, revisions, and amendments can be made to programs and policies,” he among other things, added.
Since the inception of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)-led administration, the establishment of a war and economic crime court has been the most contentious debate, perhaps due to its (CDC) stance for the court, when it was still an opposition political party.
It could be recalled that while in opposition, the CDC was one of the lead campaigners for the establishment of the court with the party Chairman MulbahMorlu and several others, most especially the youth, parading in street corners of Monrovia with casket in demand of justice for those who died as a result of the brunt of the 14-year civil war.
In its persistent calls, the party urged the former ruling Unity Party (UP) to lead the prosecution of warlords who participated in the 14-year bloody civil war by establishing a war crime court.
But since taking over the mantle of authority nearly two years now, the party now thinks establishing such a court would be detrimental to the country’s fragile peace.
Speaking sometimes in last year at a week-long delocalized meeting of the ECOWAS parliament' Joint Committee on Communication and Information Technology, Education, Science and Technology, Labor, Employment, Youth, Sports and Culture, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is also a stalwart of the CDC, Bhofal Chambers, said protocol that brought an end to the 14-year war in the country must be cherished and respected.
“Truth telling and the dispensation of justice will play critical role in sustaining lasting peace here,” added Speaker Chambers.
In line with Dr. Chambers and in a rather summersaulting tone, the Chairman of the ruling CDC, MulbahK. Morlu, said it was not the right time for such moves by enforcing the TRC’s recommendations to establisha war crimes court.
Mr. Morlu’s comments were then in response to an earlier call by the United Nations Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, who visited Liberia in late March of last year.
Morlu: “We campaigned for the unhindered implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations to be implemented. We were traded from one prison to another in the presence of international institutions and they never spoke.”
“My greatest challenge came when a Deputy UNSG called for the need for the implementation of the TRC report. I respect her but I remember in 2006 when we paraded with casket for the implementation of the TRC we were denied,” he stated.
“Why are we calling for the implementation of the TRC report when UNMIL is leaving?” “We had the opportunity to implement that report when UNMIL was helping to provide security. Our security is in its struggling stage,” he added.
Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs, Eugene L. Fahngon, while speaking at a Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) press briefing, also said though the government under the administration of President George Weah, would consider the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's recommendation, such was not a top priority for the government yet.
"We are not ignoring the calls for a war crimes court; it's just that we want to focus on the things that matter most to the Liberian people right now and one of the things is the TRC except that it is not at the top of the list right now," stated Fahngon.
He pointed out that it would do no good for Liberians when a war crimes court is established while bulk of Liberians do not have jobs and access to basic services and amenities.
"The government position is very clear, at no point in time that this government said to anyone that we will not encourage a war crimes court, or we will encourage a war crimes court," he said.
President Weah himself has been consistently mute on the establishment of the War Crime Court.
Calls for the establishment of a war and economic crime court have been spearheaded by a pressure group under the banner of Citizens of the Republic of Liberia, who, have on most occasions, stormed the Capitol Building-seat of the Liberian Legislature, to present their petition to the National Legislature.
The campaign has also been strongly backed by the Human Rights Commissioner of the United Nations and Human Rights Watch (HRW).