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UN will stand by Liberia as it consolidates peace

UN will stand by Liberia as it consolidates peace, Annan pledges in Monrovia

Speaking to lawmakers today in Liberia, where the United Nations helped usher forward a successful transition from war to peace, Secretary-General Kofi Annan pledged that the world body will continue supporting the country as it seeks to consolidate stability.

Addressing a joint session of the country's legislature, Mr. Annan hailed progress achieved so far but pointed to the many challenges ahead. “You need to reintegrate your war-affected populations and restructure your security services,” he said. “You need to reform public services and strengthen the judicial sector.” The Government must also consolidate its authority throughout the country, restore economic growth and gain the confidence of donors, he added.

The Secretary-General pledged the UN's full support in this process. “The United Nations will work with you as you seek to ensure gainful employment, especially for young people, and access to basic services, health and education,” he said. “The United Nations will work with you as you seek to protect your hard-won security in a sub-region that has yet to move out of the shadow of conflict.”

The UN would also help Liberia to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including halting the spread of HIV/AIDS. “I look to Liberia to show the same leadership in fighting AIDS as it has demonstrated in achieving peace.”

Acknowledging that “Change will not happen overnight,” the Secretary-General called for serious efforts on the part of Liberians and their Government.

“And as for the international community, it is imperative that it stay with Liberia in the long term,” he added.

The Secretary-General re-emphasized the need for all concerned to help Liberia, which suffered a brutal, 14-year civil war, at a press encounter with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who was inaugurated in January. “We will continue to support your efforts to rebuild this wonderful nation,” he said. “I think the Government, which has been in office for a relatively short time, is doing extremely well.”

Voicing satisfaction with cooperation so far, he added: “I think the international community has a great deal of confidence and goodwill towards this Government.”

Later, the Secretary-General spoke at the inauguration of the headquarters of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), paying tribute to all those who contributed to peace in Liberia, including the many who did not live to see the dream realized. “We grieve for the thousands of Liberians who died, most of them innocent civilians,” he said. “And let us honour the memory of those who gave their lives in the pursuit of peace.”

Above all, he said, “it is the people of Liberia who deserve the credit for where we are today. It is their courage, their perseverance, their resilience that brought us here. It is for them we must stay the course with Liberia for the long term.”

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