Liberia's Nobel Peace Laureate holds peace jamboree
MONROVIA — Liberian Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee on Wednesday held a peace jamboree as part of her efforts to reunite the nation after disputed polls earlier this month marred by violence.
Some 500 people including her fellow Nobel Peace Prize winner President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and members of the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) attended the gathering in the capital.
"This is a rallying call for unity, this day is a rallying call for us to come together as one people and say no to division, no to political manipulation, no to ethnicity, no to tribalism, no to sectionalism, no to every negative thing that will divide us as a people," Gbowee said.
The women's activist was tasked by Sirleaf to lead a peace initiative after the bitter presidential election.
The CDC boycotted a run-off election on November 8 after candidate Winston Tubman lost a first round of voting, claiming the process was rigged, despite it being given a clean bill of health from observers.
On the eve of the election an opposition rally turned violent and police fired live bullets, killing two people. Turnout the next day was a measly 38 percent.
Tubman refused to recognise the results, but contradictory statements from the party's leadership -- which this week led them to fire their chairman and other top officials -- show divisions on how to proceed.
"I want to use this occasion to climax and say that the mighty Congress for Democratic Change in the month of January will initiate a national caravan of peace, security," said CDC secretary general Acarius Gray, representing his party.
Gbowee told AFP earlier this month she would be be moving back home to Liberia to tackle the challenge of reconciliation in a country traumatised by back-to-back conflicts between 1989 and 2003 in which some 250,000 were killed.
"You can't fight 14 years of civil war and have six years of democracy and think all is well," said Gbowee, who led women in prayer, and later in a sex strike, as part of efforts to end the war.
Sirleaf said: "The process of transformation is never easy because it means that you have to reshape and renew and that is the process we have been going through for the past ten years."
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