Press Releases

    18 September 2002


    NEW YORK, 17 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Inaugural Meeting of the International Contact Group on Liberia, delivered today by Mr. Tuliameni Kalomoh, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs:

    I wish to convey my warm greetings to all of you, who have gathered for this important meeting.

    The establishment of a Contact Group with a special focus on Liberia is very timely. It shows the growing commitment of the international community to develop a coherent approach to the challenges affecting Liberia, bearing in mind the interconnection between the three countries of the Mano River Union. That commitment was made clear at the workshop that the Security Council organized on the situation in the subregion on 18 July.

    I am also pleased to note that the membership of the Group reflects the convergence of views between the international community and regional stakeholders on the need for effective cooperation to promote lasting peace and stability, especially in Liberia.

    Significant progress has been achieved in Sierra Leone, which has contributed to the general stability of the subregion.

    We must do all we can to preserve and consolidate this progress, and expand our efforts to foster peace and stability in the rest of the subregion. We must encourage those who work to promote peaceful change in the subregion, including civil society groups, and take a firm stand against those who hamper the attainment of this objective. And we must encourage all efforts made inside Liberia to prepare fertile soil in which peace, democracy, good governance and stability can take root.

    Mr. Abou Moussa, my new Representative for Liberia will be the United Nations voice and focal point on the ground, and will be working with the Government of Liberia and with you to facilitate the achievement of the Group’s mandate.

    I trust the Contact Group will also pay special attention to the untold suffering inflicted on the population by the protracted instability in Liberia. Every effort should be made to mobilize resources to support the work of humanitarian organizations.

    My Special Representative for West Africa, Mr. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, will be closely monitoring developments in the Mano River basin. He will visit the countries of the Mano River Union (MRU) shortly to explore ways in which the United Nations can support efforts by MRU and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders to promote sustainable peace and stability.

    I also urge you to work closely with other members of the international community, in particular the Security Council and its ad-hoc Working Group on Africa.

    Let me in closing commend once again the tireless efforts of His Majesty King Mohamed VI of Morocco to promote constructive dialogue among the leaders of the MRU countries. It is my fervent hope that the work of the Contact Group will build on the momentum generated by the Rabat process and will complement it. I should also like to pay tribute to ECOWAS and its Executive Secretary, Dr. Mohamed Chambas, and to the international partners, for their success in developing a new political strategy to address the situation in Liberia. Be assured that the United Nations supports this timely initiative.

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