Monrovia - Local leaders from Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Maryland counties in southeastern Liberia have pledged their unwavering support to efforts aimed at making their communities, clans, districts and counties free of small arms and light weapons.
The local leaders, including clan chiefs, youth and women leaders, town chiefs and local county authorities from the three (3) counties promised to lead the campaign in their respective communities about the importance of small arms and light weapons’ collection exercise. “This Small Arms Project is a good project. We will keep on encouraging our men (husbands), and children to bring any arm that they will see in the community. We continue to tell them that when we turn over these arms, our communities will be safe and we will be able to get development for our clan…” Ma-Alice Klament, women leader of Depeapo Clan, River Gee County said recently in Zwedru City, Grand Gedeh County, at a local stakeholders meeting. The day-long meeting was organized by the National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA) with funding from the European Union (EU) through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the ECOWAS-EU Small Arms Project and held in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County. Chief Alexander Williams, Clan Chief of Gedetarbo, Pleeebo District, Maryland County promised to take the message from the meeting to his people and encourage them to fully participate in the arms collection exercise in the country. “With arms in the community or clans, it will be difficult to have development in our respective places. We will talk to our people to report arms in their areas. If this is done, our communities will be free of arms….” Chief Williams said. Earlier during the discussions, the local stakeholders recommended among other things that LiNCSA provide protection or waiver to citizens who would report arms from their various communities. The local leaders said this stems from fears of being arrested or stigmatized by state security. They also urged LiNCSA to ensure the establishment of local offices which will boost interactions and afford the people an opportunity to constantly engage one another. In his remarks, Mr. James M. Fromayan, Chairman of the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA) told the local leaders that the Small Arms project has now reached a critical stage that requires the fullest participation of every citizen. Mr. Fromayan said following several months of awareness, discussions and different stages of meetings, engagements and dialogues with people across the country, the project has now reached the arms collection stage which is very important and crucial. He encouraged the citizens to support the process as the success of the arms collection exercise heavily depends on their support and involvement. Also, the Coordinator of the European Union (EU) – Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Small Arms and Light Weapons Project (ECOWAS-EU SALWP) said the full involvement of the people at all levels of the collection of small arms and light weapons is crucial. Mr. Lacina Barro said if the project, especially the arms collection phase is to be successful, the full participation of the people should not be overlooked. Funded by the EU and implemented by the UNDP, the meeting, under the ECOWAS-EU Small Arms Project, “Voluntary Arms Collection for Development”, was designed to dialogue with the local leaders on their respective roles and contributions in the successful implementation of arms collection phase of the project. Meanwhile, the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA) under the UNDP managed ECOWAS-EU Smll Arms Project, has held a 4-day validation of its 3-year strategic Plan in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County. The validation exercise brought together 12 Senior and middle level management Staff of the Commission to review and adopt LiNCSA’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for financial, human resource and related administrative management. According to LiNCSA’s Coordinator, Josiah Joekai Jr. the management tools are being put in place to meet the objectives of providing overall guidance to the work of LiNCSA. The Plan is intended to among other things; ensure compliance with existing GoL administrative regulations and international best practices; promote cooperation and coordination; increasing local and international partners’ confidence in the work of the Commission and create an enabling environment that will make the Commission more effective and efficient. On his part, the Chairman of LiNCSA James Fromayan said the validation was an important step towards tapping resources needed to enhance the Commission’s work, which would help position LiNCSA in a firm way to carry out its mandate.