Calls on the NTLA, Chairman Bryant to Immediately
Cooperate with the Ambassador’s Pronouncements
(A Press Statement by the Movement for Democratic Change in Liberia)
December 9, 2004
[Houston, Texas, December 7, 2004] The National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTLG), it seems, has come to a moment of truth – complete and impartial compliance with the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA), or a chase after its ambitions. Following a highly international and exhausting standoff in Ghana over the formation of a transitional government and a growing perception that the United States was playing a hands-off policy, or at best interested in outsourcing the job of ending Liberia’s factional violence to a United Nations Peace Keeping Force, the US now finds itself taking a more decisive policy stance on those entrusted with the transitional responsibilities and the country at large.
On Friday, December 3, the US Ambassador to Liberia, John Blaney, called on the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA) to stand down on its demand for a census amendment to the election bill before the Assembly can pass on the bill. In the same vein, the Ambassador extended similar warnings to Chairman Gyude Bryant, cautioning that Liberia stands to risk loosing much-needed US funding to facilitate the transition process if the Chairman gives his stamp to legislative demands.
As MDCL joins other organizations for the purpose of consulting on such issues as strengthening the institutions of governance in Liberia, and addressing the structural causes of nearly 15 years of civil unrest, the Movement wishes to declare its firm support for the weekend pronouncements attributed to Ambassador Blaney and the United Nations Special Committee on Liberia’s transitional process. We further call on the NTLA and Chairman Bryant to cooperate with the Ambassador’s pronouncements immediately. Liberia needs a substantial argument for real change, both cultural and institutional, to prepare the country for a return to the fold of the comity of nations, rather than a pre-election census condition. The Movement stands ready to avail itself of the opportunity to dialogue with anyone wishing to consider and confront the substantive arguments for real change in Liberia.
Taken as a whole, the events surrounding census before election 2005 have created a near-perfect storm, one that could cast Liberia into a slow drift toward irrelevance, international isolation or conversely hurl it into a debate of extra-CPA demands, which could lead to over-extension of the tenure of the NTGL and an inevitable return to violence.
Regrettably, we at MDCL see a different picture unfolding. There are those in the NTGL who are finding it difficult to work within the CPA framework. Instead of implementing what the NTGL is funded to achieve, there are those who want to contract themselves for responsibilities, which the CPA does not ask for. As much as the Liberian people would be interested in an updated census for developmental planning, the Movement is suspicious that census in the current state of the country is so crucial to the 10/05 elections that it cannot await post-elections Liberia. Moreover, a comprehensive repatriation of Liberians will inescapably out last the Liberian elections. The NTGL needs to stay course with its mandate of preparing Liberia for democratic rule. A transitional government is not mandated to take on regular government functions. The NTGL, however, is empowered to facilitate transition, which entails creating conditions of calm and stability in the country, building a cooperative working relationship among former warring factions, organizing elections and phasing itself out of office. All of this is measured in the accord not to exceed one year.
It is unfortunate that the NTGL will ask for what it does not have the resources and the luxury of time to achieve before the 10/05 elections. Proceeding with census before elections will risk loosing our most vital sponsors of the transition, United States and the international community.
In an international system that is unipolar, Liberia’s choices are limited and it obligates our leaders to take cognizance of this clear and present danger. Accordingly, the Movement wishes to call on the NTGL to take Ambassador Blaney’s admonition seriously, and act speedily to avoid luring the country into international isolation and making it an incubator for terrorist recruitment. The Movement for Democratic Change in Liberia declares its unflinching support for the US position underscored by Ambassador Blaney and echoed by the UN, and demands the immediate retraction of the conditions put forth by the NTLA. We will oppose any attempt to either delay or postpone the October 2005 elections by even a day.
Signed: Stanley J. W. Cooper
National Chairman, MDCL