Amidst Public Outcry, Massive Protests, Liberian Parliament Ratifies Firestone Agreement for Additional 36 Years


By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
April 6, 2005


Despite massive public out cry coupled with protest from civil society organizations, trade unions, democratic institutions and ordinary Liberians against the extension and ratification of a new agreement for Firestone Rubber Plantation Company, the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA) went ahead to ratify the agreement for additional 36 more years.

The Chairman of the Transitional Government of Liberia, Charles Gyude Bryant and the Management of the Firestone Plantation recently signed the thirty-six year agreement. The signing of the Firestone agreement by the transitional head of state prompted public outcry and reactions, calling on the parliament not to ratify the Agreement.

But to surprise of the public, the Plenary - the highest decision body of the Liberian parliament - on April 5 met at the William Richard Tolbert Joint chamber on Capitol Hill and ratified the agreement.

According to information gathered by The Perspective, 32 lawmakers voted in favor, while one against and another member abstained. The Plenary before passing the Bill argued that it gathered all the necessary public inputs on the pros and cons of the Agreement.

During the session presided over by the Acting Speaker, George Koukou, NTLA chairmen of Agriculture, Forestry and fisheries were called upon to give their inputs on the agreement. The standing committees are chaired by Sando Johnson of Bomi county and Thomas Nimely of Grand Kru county. Both men were staunch supporters of the regime of the Charles Taylor regime and are all members of the National Patriotic Party (NPP).

The two gentlemen told their colleagues that the 36 year Agreement calls for better living condition of the staffers, improved living standard, construction of hospitals, schools, good wages and incentives and developmental programs in the area but people doubts that firestone will honor such agreement.

There have also been reports of arms twisting at every level of government to get the agreement ratified. Some observers do not hesitate to imply that the suspension of the George Dweh leadership had something to do with the controversies surrounding the signing and ratification of this agreement. Many critics said that such far-reaching agreement should be left to an elected government to decide.