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Peace in Liberia

Peace in Liberia
By: Jenkins Divo Macedo

Liberia was involved in one of the bloodiest civil wars in Africa, which lasted from 1989 to 2003 and after relatively few years of peace the conflict erupted at the end of 2005 with the forceful dethronement of President Charles G. Taylor who is being accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and violation of international humanitarian laws for his role in the conflicts of neighboring Sierra Leone, which left  the country totally destroyed. As a result of the Liberian civil war, the country has being divided on lines between tribalism or ethnicity on one front and religion on the other (Christians and Muslims). The former which developed back in the early 1980s was one of the primary causes for the war and the later which developed in 2005 contributed to the dethronement of Taylor with support from the International Community and neighboring countries of Guinea and the Ivory Coast.

Nevertheless, with the election of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the first female President of an African state and Liberia specifically, the country has been relatively peaceful, but yet still divided along ethnic and religious lines. The current peace status of Liberia is basically influenced and made possible through the presence of about 50,000 thousands United Nations Peace Keeping Troops. However, there are still potential fears among Liberians locally, nationally and internationally that conflict may at anytime resurrect in the absence of these UN Peace Keepers, because the evidence of hatred, tribalism or ethnicity and religious intolerance, which were the major contributing factors of the war still do exist.

As a student of international development and social change at Clark University, I personally have taken an interest to create social change in Liberia through community-base action projects that are geared towards economic empowerment, social justice, sustainable agricultural productivity, community engagement, reconstruction and rehabilitation of houses and roads as well as creating cultural exchanges between conflicted communities in an effort to engage these communities in peace and reconciliation processes by sharing their stories, identifying common interests as oppose to taking positions, brainstorming about other potential options in solving their own problems, and coming up with a best alternative to negotiation in an event that their conflicts cannot be resolved, but which best address the interests and not the positions of each party. It was towards this effect that I established a nonprofit organization in Liberia call Sustainable Agricultural Program for Liberia (SAP-Liberia), which aims at achieving the above stated goals in creating substantial and sustainable peace, social change and transformation through community engagements and action-oriented sustainable development projects. At the moment, SAP-Liberia operates in three counties in the Southeastern of Liberia (Grand Gedeh, Maryland and Nimba counties) where the conflicts started between the Gio, Manu and Americo-Liberian on one hand and the Krahn, Grebo, and Mandingo on the other hand. The former being supported by the United States, the International Community, and Ivory Coast and the later supported by the government of Liberia under deceased President Samuel K. Doe, Guinea, Sierra Leone and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) peace monitoring force.


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