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Liberia and EU delegates Discuss Consolidating Peace and Development

The Liberian Government and the European Union on June 8, 2017 held its fifth Political dialogue under the theme “Consolidating Peace and Economic Development” at the Cecil Dennis Auditorium of the Foreign Ministry. The meeting was Co-chair by Liberia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Madam Marjon Kamara and Ambassador Tina Intelmann/Head of EU delegation to Liberia. At the end of the deliberations, the parties issued a joint press release.

In their opening statements the Co-chairs both described their bilateral relationship as “close with shared achievements”. Both parties discussed a range of issues but with emphasis on the October Presidential and Legislative Elections, the electoral process, and peaceful transitions from the present to the next government by January 2018. The meeting also placed emphasis on the importance of sustaining development projects and reform initiatives through the administrative transition.

Discussion issues centered around political and security matters, Economic and Trade issues, human rights, and “the last mile plan”. Under Political and security matters the Government informed the EU on preparations for the holding of national elections in October and the smooth transfer of power in January 2018. To this the EU expressed confidence in NEC’s capacity and political parties’ commitment to peaceful elections come October and resolution of electoral disputes through mediation of the courts.

The European Union commended Liberia for its positive track record in upholding fundamental freedoms, and commitment to the abolition of the death penalty. The meeting also discussed the challenges associated with the growing number of pre-trail detention and the EU’s commitment toward helping Liberia address these challenges.

At the same time Liberia remains committed to decriminalization of any violation of freedom of expression, has drafted a bill titled the “Decriminalization of the violation of the Freedom of Expression bill” and submitted same to the Legislature for enactment. The EU however expressed concern over the delay in the passage of the Domestic Violence Bill.

On economic and trade issues a number of initiatives designed to improve, enhance and/or address business regulations and issues affecting trade as well as recommendations to tackle challenges are all being worked on by the government and relevant stakeholders and partners. Such efforts include, with the help of UNCTAD and World Bank, providing clarity on the constitution of the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC) and the formation of the Business Reform Committee to coordinate reforms to improve Liberia’s indicators for the World Bank index.

Liberia, since 2014, has undergone three years of recession and hopes to experience in 2017 a return to economic growth, though revenue collection remains below expectations reflecting unabated economic challenges. The National budget 2017/2018 places top most priority on the holding of the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for October 10, 2017 and election security.

The EU commended government’s actions/measures to cut down recurrent costs in its budget including cuts to allowances, travels and reductions in goods and services budgets, and underlined the need for all three branches of government to exercise restraint and leadership especially during this time of when ordinary people are experiencing challenges. In the midst of Liberia’s economic troubles, international donors and partners’ support have dwindled.    

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