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Press Release
International Contact Group on the Mano River Basin, Region of West Africa

Date of release : 21-03-2005

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

The International Contact Group on the Mano River Basin (ICG-MRB) held its 8th Working Session in Stockholm, Sweden, 21 March 2005. Representatives of Ghana, France, Morocco, Nigeria, United Kingdom, United States of America, the European Union (the EU Presidency and the European Commission), the United Nations, African Union and the ECOWAS Secretariat attended. The meeting was co-chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Niger, Mme Aïchatou Mindaoudou, representing the Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Mr Hans Dahlgren, representing the Presidency of the EU.

Representatives of ECOWAS in Liberia briefed the group on the status of the implementation of the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement (ACPA) and recent meetings with Liberian stakeholders. The Contact Group was briefed by the United Nations on recent developments and challenges ahead in the implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1509 (2003).

The Contact Group reiterated its call on all Liberian parties to implement fully the ACPA. The Contact Group expressed concern at the recent developments in the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA) and called on all parties to refrain from any actions that may jeopardize the work of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) and to work jointly in the interest of the Liberian people. It welcomed and encouraged the mediation efforts by ECOWAS and the Contact Group to facilitate a solution that will ensure due process.

The Contact Group called on all Liberian parties to engage constructively in the preparations for elections to be held on the 11 October 2005 and underscored that the date of the elections cannot be postponed. In this regard, the Contact Group underlined the importance of ensuring the early return of Liberian refugees and the resettlement of internally displaced persons, and urged the UN specialized agencies and the International Community to redouble their efforts in support thereof.

The Contact Group expressed concern at the findings of recent reports and audits which have concluded that the Government is losing significant amounts of revenue due to lax management procedures and corruption. It called on the NTGL to ensure transparency in the management of funds and expenditures and to take prompt and effective action in cases of breaches and abuse. In this regard, the Contact Group expressed its support for the ECOWAS team of investigators and auditors charged with the task of investigating allegations of corruption within the NTGL and the NTLA. The report of the ECOWAS team will be submitted to ECOWAS and the Contact Group for further action, including judicial proceedings if warranted. The Contact Group is of the view that appropriate judges from the ECOWAS community should be immediately approached to supplement the efforts of the Liberian judiciary to deal with urgent cases of corruption and financial malfeasance.

The Contact Group underscored the need to make urgent progress on the Rehabilitation and Reintegration efforts, and noted with concern the significant shortfall in the funding of the RR programme. The Group underlined that the failure to complete the RR programme would jeopardize the implementation of the ACPA and the long-term stability of Liberia, and urged the international community to make available additional funding to RR efforts.

The Contact Group underlined the importance of the restructuring of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and welcomed the commitment by the United States in this regard.  The Contact Group stressed the importance of ensuring adequate funding for the demobilisation of the AFL and committed itself to taking the lead in these efforts.

The Contact Group welcomed the offer of further support for reintegration programmes and assistance to IDP’s announced by the United States, Sweden and the European Commission.

Members of the Contact Group recalled that Charles Taylor’s departure was a critical step in bringing about the current peace in Liberia and welcomed Nigeria’s contribution in this regard. Charles Taylor’s return would threaten Liberia’s stability. The Group expressed its strong support for the efforts to tackle the culture of impunity in the region.

The Contact Group reiterated its call on all States in the region to support fully the implementation of the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement, to prevent their territories from being used by armed elements to destabilise their neighbours, and to strengthen regional cooperation.

The Contact Group urged the Heads of State of the Mano River Union to intensify their cooperation on cross-border issues.

The Contact Group expressed grave concern at the continuing stalemate in the Ivorian Peace Process and urged the parties to the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire to commit themselves to the full implementation of the Linas-Marcoussis and Accra III Accords. In this regard, the Contact Group expressed its support for the AU mediation efforts of President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, and urged all parties to cooperate in good faith with these efforts so that credible elections will be held in October 2005. The Contact Group further expressed its strong support for the mandate of UNOCI and Licorne troops and their important role in the peace process. The Contact Group also expressed its concern at reports of recruitment by both the Government and rebels in Côte d’Ivoire of mercenaries from Liberia elsewhere. The Contact Group also condemned the use of violence in any form in the resolution of the Ivorian conflict.

The Contact Group expressed its support for the transitional process in Guinea-Bissau. In this regard, it expressed its endorsement of the holding of Presidential elections on 19 June and urged all Guinea-Bissau stakeholders to accept the extension by a month of the term of the President this would require. The Contact Group appealed to the International Community to continue its assistance to the electoral process and the consolidation of peace. The Group welcomed the support offered by the UN, the World Bank and the EU for rehabilitation and reintegration efforts as well as for security sector reform in Guinea-Bissau. 

The Contact Group underlined the importance of the resumption a national dialogue in Guinea, and welcomed the commitment expressed by the Government to this end.

The Contact Group underlined the need for democratic and economic reforms to be undertaken throughout the subregion for the long-term stability and development of the West Africa Region.

It was agreed that the Contact Group would remain seized of the matter through regular meetings.

This page was last modified on : 23-03-2005

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