America Blows The Burgle! -Dictates the Passage
Of Electoral Bill
-Fear Grips Lawmakers
By: Lewis K. Glay & D. Emmanuel Mondaye
American Ambassador John W. Blaney bluntly made the assertion recently
during a press conference held at his Mamba Point office in Monrovia when
he deliberated on numerous national issues regarding the peace process.
The US envoy said they are watching those who are seeking to undermine the elections timetable, or the peace process. He noted that the United States Government reserves the option to take appropriate actions by proposing to the United Nations, additions of names of individuals to both the UN travel and asset freeze lists.
“Anyone selfishly blocking the peace process will likely find themselves one or both lists, and could be subject to US laws and policies,” Amb. Blaney stressed. He reminded Liberians not to allow the greedy few to deny them their franchise to vote for a democratically elected government that will pave the way for a brighter future.
Amb. Blaney noted that as far as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was concerned, the Reform Electoral System does not call for the National Transitional Legislative Assembly’s (NTLA) approval; as such, the United States Government does not think that the NTLA’s involvement in the process is essential.
He called on the NTLA to stop dithering on the elections bill because precious time, which is needed to prepare the elections, was slipping away. According to him, it is no time to play politics or worry about staying in office, rater it is now time to meet international standards in line with the CPA to secure a better future for the Liberian people.
Commenting further on the economic sovereignty and good governance, Amb. Blaney said the “Get Grab and Go” syndrome and the culture of impunity in Liberia must end so as to attract needed investment that will create many new jobs for the Liberian people.
He observed that despite efforts by the NTGL, there was still a lack of accountability and transparency in many sectors including ministries and public corporations.
He urged the NTGL to strengthen its efforts at reducing the level of corruption and mismanagement and also called on stakeholders to support anti corruption efforts.
According to Amb. Blaney, corruption undermines donor confidence and investment,
noting that “Liberia will fall off the international map again and
squander all this goodwill if it does not move further on fighting corrupt
However, the US Envoy said there has been progress on the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA). He named the end of the Disarmament and Demobilization component of the DDRR Program, as well as the disbandment of all warring factions as significant step in the peace process.
He then reassured America’s commitment to ensuring that peace return to Liberia. It can be recalled that the Electoral Reform Bill, which was submitted to the NTLA in August by the National Elections Commission (NEC) for passage into law has sparked off controversy between the Legislature and the Executive Branches of government.
The hitch up over the bill has come against the backdrop of the NTLA’s insistence to maintain Article 80(d) of the Liberian Constitution, which calls for the conduct of census before elections, something that is practically impossible for the scheduled October 2005 general and presidential elections.
What seems to be a conflict of interest so far is the allocation of seats (64) for the House of Representatives, which in the past had been based on twenty thousand eligible voters producing a representative from each constituency.
During one of the plenary deliberations, NTLA Speaker George Dweh said during a meeting with Amb. Jacques Klein, the NTLA was threatened with sanction should it renege on passing the Electoral Reform Bill.
Meanwhile, fear has reportedly gripped members of the NTLA following recent
threat by the United States Ambassador John Blaney that the United Nations
will include members of that august body on the sanctions list.
Already, several of the lawmakers who previously opposed to part of the amended portion of the Electoral Reform Bill have reportedly bowed down due to pressure.
They said most of the people who had earlier supported the Assembly in rejecting the bill have changed their minds on grounds that some Liberians are ungrateful and quick to change minds on issues of crucial national concerns in face of pressure.
But, there were still some lawmakers who noted that no matter how much pressure the UN mounts on them, their decision regarding the draft Electoral Bill will not change.
Assemblymen George Koukou, Prince Toe and others said that accepting this bill in its entirety will mean that people whom they represent at the NTLA will not have much representation in 2005 general and presidential elections.
House Speaker George Dweh in sharp reaction to the threat from the US Ambassador has made it clear that he remains resolute and will under no condition reconsider decision to accept the controversial bill.