The Mano River Union (MRU) Ministerial Council yesterday convened a two-day Extraordinary Meeting on Peace and Security in Monrovia as a result of the troubling civil crisis in one of its member state, Ivory Coast.
The forum is among others discussing the crisis in Ivory Coast aimed at taking steps that could lead to peace in the member country that has been engulfed by crisis since November 28.
The Peace and Security meeting is aimed at saving the MRU Basin from eminent crisis with the focus of the meeting taking into consideration the importance of peace in the Basin, reminiscing the recent past.
Speaking during the opening session, Liberia’s Planning Minister Amara Konneh, Chair of MRU Ministerial Council, decried the situation in Ivory Coast, “one of our member states.”
He said the Union was very concerned about the escalating crisis and the Chair of the Union, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had requested the Council to discuss the security and humanitarian consequences.
He described the crisis as a threat to peace and stability in the region and feared that it will soon endanger trade, commerce, agriculture production and revenue generation for countries in the basin.
Mr. Konneh said peace remain fragile in the basin. Guinea, with its newly elected government is moving ahead slowly, Sierra Leone is making progress with its democracy, while Liberia is preparing for elections in October.
Minister Konneh warned that if the situation in Ivory Coast is not handled now, with the level of porous borders in the MRU basin, the crisis to spill over with a devastating effect on the rest of the region.
“We have come to Monrovia [this meeting] because one of us is in danger,” Minister Konneh stated, adding that all member state need to work to find an amicable solution to the Ivorian imbroglio.
Host country Liberia and other MRU member countries are seriously troubled by the crisis in La Cote d’Ivoire and going to take steps to consolidate the fragile peace and security in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and save the MRU Basin from further political, economic, and social decadence.
UN Secretary General Special Representative Ellen Magarethe Loj said the Ivorian crisis seriously threatens Liberia’s fragile stability and comes at a critical period when Liberia the her international partners are gearing up for the country’s second postwar elections later this year.
She said the UN was seriously monitoring the situation and has been working with relevant agencies to respond to the humanitarian crisis posed by the influx of some 30,000 refugees into Liberia.
Liberian security forces and those of the UN, she s aid, have been deployed to beef up monitoring and patrols at the borders with Ivory Coast. “No doubt the situation is challenging on the ground,” Madam Loj noted, calling for quick and serious international interventions to address the humanitarian crisis caused by influx of refugees in Liberia.
MRU Secretary General Elhadj Chierno Diallo, too, described the Ivorian crisis as being critical to the basin and called for a concerted effort on finding solution.
He indicated that whatever affects one country affects the others in the region, and hoped for a better discussion at the two-day conference.
Delegates are from three of the MRU countries: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone except troubled Ivory Coast.
Ivory Coast has been engulfed by serious internal deadlock since a November 28 2010 presidential run-off election conducted between incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and opposition leader Alassane Ouattara.
Both Gbagbo and Quattara have claimed the presidency after the elect0ral commission declared the later winner, but the constitutional court overturned the results in favor of Gbagbo.
The two men were separately inaugurated as President and the impasse has left the country with two governments, each with its own group of cabinet ministers, appointed simultaneously.
The current political standoff between Gbagbo and Quattara has placed La Cote d’Ivoire at the brink of a full scale civil war.
The United Nations, ECOWAS, EU, AU, and other multilateral institutions as well as the governments of France, USA, and other western countries are all backing the results released by the Electoral Commission which announced Quattara as the winner of the election; and are calling on Gbagbo to relinquish state power.
He has vehemently refused to step down, prompting ECOWAS to threaten military force to end the crisis after several failed diplomatic intervention.
At least 200, people are reported dead so far. About 30,000 Ivorian refugees have fled into Liberia for safety and humanitarian crisis is said to be on an unprecedented rise.