H.E Madam Medina A. Wesseh, Secretary General of MRU
Honorable Dee Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia and Keynote Speaker
The Guinean Ambassador accredited to the Republic of Liberia
Madam Kate O’Donnell, Chargé d’affaires of the Irish Embassy near Monrovia
The Deputy Defense Minister and the Chief of Staff, the Republic of Sierra Leone
The Defense Minister and Chief of Staff of the Republic of Guinea
Senator Conmany B. Wesseh,
Representative Jimmy Smith
Other Officials of Governments of the MRU Region
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
I am honored to welcome you all here today at the Boulevard Palace Hotel, Monrovia, Liberia, at the MRU’s Sub-Regional meeting of Ministers of Defense and Chiefs of Defense Staff. I am particularly honored because this meeting provides yet another opportunity to meet old and new professional colleagues, some of whom I have worked with very closely both in my current capacity as Minister of Defense, and then when I served Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of ECOWAS.
This day is also important because it gives us, leaders of the security sectors of our individual MRU countries the opportunity to reflect on the security challenges of the Mano River Union Region and identify workable solutions to improve or mitigate the situation.
The Mano River Union was established in 1973 as a tool for regional cooperation amongst member states including Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and later, the Republic of Guinea. Overtime, the goals of the MRU have evolved from fostering economic growth, social progress, and cultural advancement through collaboration amongst member states in confronting critical security challenges affecting member countries. Over the years, MRU member countries have experienced violent political instabilities, deadly pandemic outbreaks (Ebola Virus and the current COVID-19 pandemic). All of these have impacted the sub-region negatively, thereby stalling the progress and some of the gains the region should have achieved.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, as you may be aware, today’s meeting is part of the outcomes from the January 2021 meeting held in Dakar, Senegal between MRU and UNOWAS in which a consensus was reached for collaboration amongst member states under the authorities of the Ministers of Defense of member states to organize a sub-regional meeting of Ministers of Defense and Chiefs of Defense staff and other relevant security agencies to foster cooperation in addressing the prevailing security threats in the region, considering the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
As we deliberate and brainstorm in finding solutions to the security threats to our region, we must realize that the revised 15th Protocol on peace, security and Defense, cross-border security strategy and operational plan on peace and security of MRU have not been evaluated to address current security realities in the sub-region. Also, the issues of terrorism, maritime security, human security and other security related matters caused by the impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic must properly be scrutinized.
We must also be cognizant of the fact that the Joint Security Committee (JSC), the security architecture of the MRU has been unable to meet for some time to shed light and experiences on the current security realities in the sub-region.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, this meeting gives us the opportunity to carefully examine the pressing security concerns of MRU region. In this light, we must seize on every opportunity that addresses critical security concerns to enhance cross-border cooperation within the MRU region and ensure common approach in addressing the issue of terrorism and other growing security threats facing MRU countries.
Thank you and welcome to Liberia, your home away from home!