Position Statement on Security, Reconciliation and Peace in Liberia
March 26, 2002
Editor's Note: Liberian politicians recently gathered in Abuja, Nigeria, under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States and the Nigerian government to discuss peace and reconciliation for Liberia. Though some of the major protagonists (Charles and LURD) were absent, a statement was issued at the end of the conference. The statement, which the Taylor delegation at the conference opted not to sign, is published below:
ON SECURITY, RECONCILIATION AND PEACE IN LIBERIA
PRESENTED TO THE AUTHORITY OF ECOWAS AND THE GOVERNMENT
OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
MARCH 15, 2002
We, the undersigned, members of Liberian political parties, civil society organizations, and opinion leaders, shocked by the political social and economic disintegration of our native land, came to Abuja, Nigeria at the invitation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to collectively address the critical issues needed to save Liberia and restore honor and dignity to our country. We met March 14-15, 2002, under the auspices of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, General Olusegun Obasanjo, with the support of the Chairman of ECOWAS, President Abdoulaye Wade. We note with sadness that this is another one of numerous meetings, reconciliation talks, consultative sessions and multilateral dialogue since the commencement of the armed conflict [in] Liberia, with its attendant destabilization impact on the West African sub-region. At each one of these meetings we tried to find solutions to our common problems, only to see our aspirations dashed as commitments for peace were made and callously broken. We must not go down that path again.
We note, with appreciation, the efforts of the international community, particularly ECOWAS and the host government, their willingness to continue to provide us with a forum to resolve our differences. At this time, we have identified the following as actions necessary to promote genuine peace and reconciliation in Liberia.
A sound security system in any country serves as a basis for proper human interaction. Unfortunately, the current environment in Liberia is characterized by lawlessness, which has been growing in intensity over recent years. We have harassment of the populace, often times affecting political leaders, journalists, human rights activists and students who have had to flee the country out of fear for their life. Looting and armed banditry are committed by both government and dissident forces. This general state of insecurity is further exacerbated by a policy of impunity.
There is a raging situation of armed hostilities in various parts of the country between forces of the government of President Charles Taylor and an armed group named and styled Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). This climate has led to the uprooting of thousands of Liberians, including pro-democracy leaders, seeking refuge in foreign countries. This must stop.
Security for all is therefore fundamental to the restoration of peace in Liberia, for the resettlement of the internally displaced, for the repatriation of refugees and return of Liberians from exile, for the beginning of a process of reconciliation, and for promoting economic reconstruction. The critical path to security requires the following:
There is a need for the elections commission to be reconstituted in such a manner as to make it balanced and impartial. The commission should consist of seven members, three of whom shall be appointed by the President and four by the registered political parties. The mandate for the commission should include voter registration, including how to deal with displaced people; voter education; demarcation of electoral constituencies; balloting and counting procedures; procedures for announcing elections results; the role of international observers and monitors; and rules for access to the media.
We recognize that reconciliation is a process, not an event. In the context of Liberia, it involves first and foremost removing the climate of fear and mistrust by addressing the security issue. It further entrails creating an environment that permits every Liberian full, unhampered participation in the political process as a peaceful alternative to armed struggle by addressing issues that make for credible elections. Reconciliation should provide a mechanism for a full accounting of what has gone wrong in Liberian society, with the government demonstrating its readiness to put a halt to the climate of impunity by punishing wrongdoing. It will also require reform of the Judiciary ensure its independence.
We deeply regret that President Charles Taylor and the leadership of LURD have not found it fit to attend this very important Liberian leadership forum. We therefore appeal to the ECOWAS Authority, particularly Presidents Obasanjo and Wade, to kindly reconvene another meeting and prevail upon President Taylor and the LURD leadership to be in attendance, using this statement as the basis for such a meeting. It is suggested that the proposed meeting be held as soon as possible, taking into account the present situation whereby unarmed civilians are experiencing a severe humanitarian crisis, characterized by death and destruction, and continued mass displacement of the populace and flight of our citizens into neighboring countries once again.
1. Mary N. Brownell [Founding Executive, Liberian Women Initiative]
2. Charles W. Brumskine [Former President-Protempore of the Liberian Senate - NPP]
3. Josephus K. Garley [Founding Member, All Liberia Coalition Party - ALCOP]
4. Fayah J. Sahr Gbollie [Standard Bearer, Free Democratic Party]
5. Harry A. Greaves [Member, Liberia Action Party]
6. Peter A. Johnson [Former Ambassador and Member, Liberia Action Party]
7. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf [Standard Bearer, Unity Party]
8. Mohammed L. Kamara [Founding Member, ALCOP]
9. Joseph Kekula [Founding Member, ALCOP]
10. James G. Kiazolu [President, Press Union of Liberia]
11. Nohn Rebecca Kidau [Chairman of the Movement for Democratic Change in Liberia]
12. J. Fonati Koffa [Lawyer]
13. Alhaji G. V. Kromah [Ex- Member, Collective Presidency; Standard Bearer, ALCOP]
14. Theresa Leigh Sherman [Executive, Mano River Union Women Network]
15. Leslie N. Cole [Ex- Chairman, Union of Liberia Associations in the Americas - ULAA]
16. James Rogers [Executive of ULAA]
17. Harry F. Moniba [Former Vice President of the Republic of Liberia]
18. J. Varney Okai [Youth Wing Executive, ALCOP]
19. Eugene Peabody [Liberian Business Executive]
20. Ruth Sando Perry [Former Chairman, Collective Presidency of Liberia]
21. Urias Pour [Liberian Opinion Leader]
22. Amos C. Sawyer [Former President of Interim Government of National Unity]
23. Rudolph Sherman [Standard Bearer of the True Whig Party]
24. J. Laveli Supuwoood [Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court]
25. Togba-Nah Tipoteh [Standard Bearer of the Liberia People’s Party; Ex-Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs]
26. Katherine Kpoto Wayas [Liberian Business Executive]
27. Dusty Wolokollie [Liberian Opinion Leader]
28. J. Alphonso S. Nimene [Liberian Student Opinion Leader in Exile]
29. Ruth Yvonne Wreh [Official, ULAA; President, Liberian Association, Maryland, USA]
Sheik Kafumba F. Konneh [Inter-Religious Council of Liberia]
Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Walker [Inter-Religious Council of Liberia]
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