Will LURD, Opposition and Taylor Meet In Bamako Today?

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

March 10, 2003

There are no indications that the meeting slated to be held today in Bamako, the capital of Mali, will take place. Some government sources say that the Taylor regime is it not ready for the meeting, while others within the Liberian opposition see the reactivation of exit visa is a major handicap to their desire to attend the meeting. It can be re-called that Charles Brumskine, LUP's presidential candidate for the 2003 elections, could not have the exit visa stamped in his passport because he is carries an official Liberian passport (legislator in his case). His other passport, a (discontinued)1995 Liberian passport could not pass the scrutiny of the Taylor "Justice Ministry". But Cllr. Brumskine is not alone - some of the Liberian opposition figures are said to be official passport holders.

Change of heart on the part of Taylor? Mr. Taylor initially stated that the Liberian political opposition would be excluded from the Bamako meeting - a statement that prompted a response from Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (one of the politicians who are interested in the Liberian presidency). In an interview with this paper, Mrs. Sirleaf recently said: "I did read that if the ruling party and the dissidents came together, the opposition parties would be excluded. I just took that for a big joke. I don't know what he meant by "excluded."

Well, they (the opposition) are included. Inviting political parties to the Bamako meeting, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Secretary General of ECOWAS, recently wrote to registered Liberian political parties:

"I have been directed by His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana and Chairman of ECOWAS to invite you to send two representatives of your political party to Bamako, Mali for peace talks on Liberia due to start on Monday, March 10, 2003.

"ECOWAS has designated His Excellency Amadou Toumani Touré, President of the Republic of Mali as mediator. This decision was endorsed by the International Contact Group on Liberia (ICGL) at its meeting in New York at the United Nations Headquarters on Friday, February 28, 2003.

"The prolonged crisis in your dear country continues to create not only grave humanitarian difficulties for the people, but also poses a threat to the peace and stability of our entire sub-region.

"It is for this reason that ECOWAS, with the support of the ICGL, wishes to embark on this current initiative to bring durable peace to Liberia.

"ECOWAS will sponsor two participants from your political party by paying for their travel, accommodation and feeding costs during the period of the talks.

"We count on your participation in the talks."

Observers opine that if the opposition’s statement issued at the conference on Liberia sponsored by the Movement for Democratic Change in Liberia (MDCL) is an indication for what to expect from the opposition at the Bamako meeting, then the meeting is just a waste of time.