“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”

A Press Statement Issued by CEDE, FIND, FORHD and Green Advocates On the ECOWAS Panel of Investigators to Liberia Bienvenue to ECOWAS Panel of Investigators

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
April 9, 2005


As dutiful citizens of the Republic of Liberia and as responsible and principled civil society organizations interested in setting the building blocks for durable peace, free fair and transparent elections and a robust democratic culture, we want to express our profound gratitude to the Economic Community of West Africa States for their intervention in our beloved country to investigate probable misapplication of state resources, specifically public funds. We are perplexed that some of our fellow citizens would like to represent the presence of the ECOWAS Panel of Investigators in our country as efforts to undermine the sovereignty of the Liberian nation. Unlike these citizens, we subscribe to the principle that sovereignty is resident in the popular will and manifestations of the people of Liberia. Therefore, any pretensions to invite the cloak of sovereignty by any Liberian or group of Liberians during this transitional period are not only engaged in a disservice to the nation and its people but are in a disdainful denial and are dangerously misreading the prevailing circumstances in our nation today.

Our circumstances in so far as the issue of sovereignty is concerned rests on the premise that the State is willing, ready and able to defend the territorial integrity of the nation, protect life and property, secure, uphold and defend the inalienable rights of all Liberians including the right to social services such as education, health and affordable access to safe drinking water and electricity as well as employment opportunities. Our reality today is very far from this. We have a transitional government whose claim to power is suspect at best and most certainly is not a result of any popular mandate. In addition, our national security is the responsibility of the United Nations and whatever form of humanity that has been visited upon our kinsfolk has been the result of humanitarian assistance.

Our reality also includes the fact that those entrusted with public authority in our country appear to be engaged in a multitude of efforts that has apparently resulted in the misapplication of public funds and by extension increase the hardships of the Liberian people. The increases in the prices of basic goods including food, building materials and petroleum products are telling in this regard. No doubt the behaviors and actions of public officials are embedded with negative implications for the peace process and are impregnated with immense possibilities of harmfully influencing the outcome of the October 2005 presidential and general elections.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement which constitutes the de jure framework for our existing governance gives the responsibility of oversight to the International Contact Group of Liberia (ICGL) to which ECOWAS belongs. It is therefore a responsible decision on the part of ECOWAS to send to Liberia the Panel of Investigators to examine probable financial malfeasance and/or non-feasance on the part of public functionaries. Liberians can only loudly applaud this decision and its leaders would do well to fully cooperate. What is more, we are in knowledge of the fact that the presence in the country of the ECOWAS Panel of Investigators is at the behest of the Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, Mr. Charles Gyude Bryant.

The nation has been racked by accusations of corruption among public officials. Currently the Liberian state is in both a political and constitutional crises. The National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA), supposedly our deliberative body, is marred in confusion and a number of its leadership has been accused of the misapplication of state resources. The Supreme Court has been invited to intervene and establish the constitutionality of the suspension of the Speaker and others in the leadership. Our national legislature has threatened members of the Judiciary with impeachment if it dares intervene. Our citizens remain clueless as to the checks and balances that should animate our republican form of government. But the continuous drudgery of the people is palpable, our peace process is well known to be on shaky ground given the fact that we may be about to squander, for the second time, international goodwill towards our country.

There is not enough money to attend to the important work of implementing the Reintegration and Resettlement portion of the DDRRP. Those who want to contribute to our recovery from war to peace are not at all pleased with the fiscal policies and management of our government. Amidst this self-inflicted crisis, the ECOWAS leadership decided to dispatch to our country a Panel of Investigators to establish what is wrong and propose possible corrective measures but a tiny few of our fellow citizens, who appear to be interested in maintaining the status quo of “business as usual”, are screaming above their breath and frothing at the mouth about sovereignty. What careless and callous citizens!

We therefore want to state our unequivocal endorsement of the decision of ECOWAS to send a team of independent investigators to establish the fact in the corruption scandal, which is undermining our efforts, to build sustain peace and is bedeviling the nation. We want to call on others civil society organizations, the citizens of this country, Liberians abroad, political parties, and Church leaders to join in our efforts and publicly declare their support for the wise and prudent decision of ECOWAS.

We want to applaud Chairman Bryant for inviting ECOWAS to undertake this investigation. Meanwhile, we would like to inform the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) that it is in the best interest of our beloved country that all and every public official fully cooperate with the ECOWAS Panel of Investigation. At the same time, we would like to inform those of our citizens who want to obstruct this process that they are aligning with the wrong forces of history. A well respected Liberian woman once said: “Our country has always done things the wrong way; it is about time that we start to do things the right way.” We must not hide under the guise of sovereignty to once again squander international good will towards our country and return to the status quo ante, which brought us war, destruction and endemic underdevelopment.

Released [on April 7, 2005] by:
Ezekiel Pajibo, Center for Democratic Empowerment (CEDE) +231 534 604
Sam Hare, Jr. Foundation for International Dignity (FIND) +231 510 058
Aloysius Toe, Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy (FOHRD) +231 515 158
Atty. Alfred Brownell, Green Advocates +231 560 313