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Donors Urge Liberia's Govt To Fight Corruption

Donors at UN Meeting Urge Liberia's Government To Fight Corruption

New York, May 10 2005 6:00PM

Donors wrapping up a conference today in Denmark urged Liberia's transitional government to fight corruption and put in place better financial management systems, steps they said would enhance the credibility of the authorities in the West African country during the lead up to general elections this fall.

The two-day meeting in Copenhagen, co-organized by the United Nations and the World Bank, brought together representatives of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, donor countries, international financial institutions, UN agencies, regional organizations and civil society organizations to review Liberia's changing needs and priorities after its 14-year civil war.

Participants emphasized that worries about graft and other issues threatened to derail progress thus far. "Persistent concerns about the preparations for the upcoming elections, reintegration strategy, funding shortfalls, and, widespread allegations of corruption and malfeasance have slanted discussions somewhat in the last weeks," Poul Grosen, Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Nordic Office in Copenhagen, said, noting that momentum around Liberia's transition had been shaken recently.

According to Mats Karlsson, World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, effective economic governance is the key constraint to sustain peace and development. "We should not end up saying in six months from now that it was just a show of words in Copenhagen. Immediate action to address core economic government functions is imperative to follow this meeting," he said.

Participants agreed that fostering sustainable livelihoods, responding to the development needs of communities and building infrastructure should also be priorities in Liberia, where the unemployment rate hovers at about 85 per cent.

"The elections are the good part of the Liberian story. The difficult part of the story is the need to restructure the Liberian army and provide schooling, clinics, roads and basic services enabling both internally displaced people and ex-combatants to return to their rural counties," said Christian Herbert, Liberia's Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs.

"The risk of inaction to address these needs will place the whole peace process in jeopardy," he said.

ENDS

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