UN Envoy honours Ghanaian peacekeepers, urges Liberians to emulate Ghana’s electoral record
Buchanan, Liberia - The head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Ms. Ellen Margrethe Løj has hailed Ghana’s impressive democratic credentials propelled by transparent and peaceful elections, and called on Liberians to display similar democratic traits during their presidential and parliamentary elections later this year. “I urge all Liberians to redouble their efforts to ensure that the elections are free, fair and conflict-free,” she stated at a colourful ceremony in the Liberian port city of Buchanan during which she decorated 700 Ghanaian soldiers with the United Nations Peacekeeping Medal for their dedicated service to UNMIL.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) said that considering the upcoming elections, “2011 is the year for Liberia, and for all Liberians to demonstrate to themselves, and indeed the international community, that their commitment to sustainable peace and development is steadfast and irreversible.”
Ms. Løj reminded Liberians of the closely fought presidential poll in Ghana in 2008. “I recall visiting Ghana in January 2009, when the results of the presidential election were announced. The race was tight; the environment was extremely tense; but the results were accepted, and everything was, and remained peaceful. A young Ghanaian woman said to me with a proud smile, ’In Africa, this can only happen in Ghana.’ I urge all Liberians to ensure that come October 2011, this young Ghanaian woman is proven wrong; and that you will proudly be able to say, ‘In Africa, this can also happen in Liberia’,” the SRSG said.
Commenting on the situation in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire culminating in the influx of more than 120,000 refugees into Liberia, she said while the international community and Government of Liberia were working together to bring relief to the refugees, “we should also be vigilant and do our utmost to ensure that the hard won peace in Liberia is not threatened by this unfortunate situation.”
Turning to the Ghanaian peacekeepers, Ms. Løj commended their contribution to UNMIL’s primary mandate of maintaining a stable and peaceful environment in Liberia and creating the space for the much desired economic development to move the country forward. She praised the outreach activities of the Ghanaian peacekeepers in the local communities, saying “by doing this, you are not only winning the hearts and minds of Liberians; you are assisting them to create the foundation for a better future.”
The SRSG applauded Ghana’s commitment and support to women’s participation in peacekeeping, noting that of the 700-strong Ghanaian contingent, 55 are women deployed side by side with their male colleagues to perform front line duties. She hoped this would inspire Liberian women and girls to pursue a future in their national security agencies.
Dignitaries present at the ceremony included DSRSG for Rule of Law, Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu; Ghana’s Ambassador in Liberia, Mr. Kenneth Asare Bosompem; Acting UNMIL Force Commander, Brigadier-General John Kwasie; Director of Mission Support, Hubert Price; Military Chief of Staff, Brigadier-General Obadiah Tahau Ethan; Sector A Commander, Brigadier-General Salihu Zaway Uba; Sector B Commander, Brigadier General Hossain Mozammel and Deputy UNPOL Commissioner, John Nielsen. Also present were Major-General Kweai Yankson, head of Ghanaian delegation to the ceremony; and Ghanaian Contingent Commander, Colonel Kwame Oppong-Otchere, as well as Grand Bassa County officials.