Executive Mansion, Monrovia
A Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Mano River Union (MRU) opened Thursday morning in Monrovia, with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaking of the need to ensure that peace and stability prevails in the sub-region.
This, the Liberian leader said, requires harmonized strategies and regular interactions among security agencies of the sub-region, to ensure that boundaries remain safe and free from any subversive activities.
The President also spoke of the need to address capacity constraints, especially in the public sector.
She said, is a matter of urgency, given the demands and consequences of globalization and technological advancement. The President told the opening session of the one day Summit that a regional capacity building project approved by the African Capacity Building Foundation several years ago needs to be brought to fruition as quickly as possible.
The Liberian leader, who currently chairs the Mano River Union, called on the Union to find innovative ways to create viable jobs for the region’s ever growing youthful population. “Making our economies functional and productive would assist us in meeting this challenge,” the President told the Summit.
On the looming global food crisis, the President spoke of a meeting of Agriculture Ministers of the sub-region in Monrovia, at which time the Ministers discussed a set of policies, strategies and operational plans to tackle the challenge, with a focus on rice production.
“We are called upon to take a closer look at their report and embark upon a plan of action to address this emerging challenge. Let us focus on results oriented strategies – on outputs, on effective responses to the new global imperatives,” the Liberian leader recommended.
The Chief Executive also spoke of the need to bridge the long standing language barrier among member countries of the Union, by ensuring that English and French are incorporated in the curriculum of school systems at all levels.
President Sirleaf said: “I strongly believe that sub-regional cooperation is the best strategy to provide the required adequate response to these challenges and we see the Mano River Union as a viable framework for the consolidation of peace, security and development.
The expressed desire of our sisterly state of Cote d’Ivoire to join our ranks in securing our sub-region and lifting our peoples out of poverty is therefore a healthy and welcome move. Besides expanding our markets, we shall together secure our borders from being used to wage conflicts on one another. Its accession to the Union today is indeed historic.”
The opening session, which was also addressed by the President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma; the Prime Minister of Guinea, Lansana Kouyate; and a Special Envoy of Ivorian President, Laurent Gbagbo, has now gone into closed session.
A Communiqué is expected to be issued at the end of the Summit, to be followed later Thursday afternoon with a state luncheon, tendered in honor of visiting dignitaries by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.