LDI's Statement Submitted to the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted May 19, 2002

The Liberian Democracy Initiative
Statement For The Record
The African Subcommittee Of The US House Of Representatives International Relations Committee On The Occasion Of The Subcommittee's Hearing On Sierra Leone
May 16, 2002

On the eve of the historic elections in Sierra Leone, it is truly fitting for the Liberian Democracy Initiative (LDI) to join this honorable body in examining the "Elections in Sierra Leone: A Step Towards Regional Stability." Reports indicate that the polls were by far the most orderly and peaceful in Sierra Leone since the country gained independence from Britain in 1961.

Although Sierra Leone provides an element of hope for democracy in the West African Sub-Region, yet governmental instability will exist especially when government such as the current Liberian Government continues to disrupt its neighbors' political systems and sovereignty. At this critical time of much needed peace and stability in Sierra Leone, neighboring Liberia is going through serious fighting and turmoil around Monrovia.

All of Africa is impressed with the tremendous progress made by the people of Sierra Leone in achieving an end to strings of barbaric massacre of their people by dissidents bent on destroying the fabrics of democracy in West Africa. It comes as no surprise to members of the United States Congress and other members of the international community, that the people of Sierra Leone would have one day join other nations in moving their country towards democracy. This undertaken effort is truly monumental.

The Liberian people have consistently paid a supreme price to experience a day of true democracy and its principles in action in the country instead of a pseudo-democratic format that has undermined the integrity of the country and her people. The people of Liberia like the people of Sierra Leone have a common interest in peace, stability, and respect for human dignity.

However, democracy and lasting peace is only possible in the West African Sub-Region when Charles Taylor, president of Liberia is actively contained as well as pressurized to institute practical and verifiable democratic measures aimed at holding the elections in 2003 and respecting human rights of the Liberian people as well as his neighbors. Taylor ascended to power in 1997 when elections were held after the senseless killings of over 200,000 Liberians. Voters were intimidated to vote Charles Taylor or risk yet another civil war.

The whole world continues to witness how Liberians are suffering from inhumane and oppressive acts by the Taylor administration. In the face of renewed brutality and cruelty, LDI has no alternative but to call for the resignation of Mr. Taylor as president of the Republic of Liberia. He is incompetent and has misled the Liberian people by failing to uphold the Liberian Constitution as well as to protect the basic fundamental rights of the Liberian people. Mr. Taylor has failed our people and clearly demonstrated that he is increasingly intolerant of criticism and cannot preside over a constitutional democratic government, people and a country like Liberia.

As Liberians prepare for the general and presidential elections in 2003, we are calling on peace-loving and pro-democratic nations not to stand aside and allow a tyrant like Charles Taylor to once more continue to rule the people of Liberia with iron hands as he has done during the last five years.

LDI will leave no stone unturned in monitoring and working for democratic principles and practices in Liberia. We continue to sponsor and undertake projects for democratic changes in the country. In the interest of democracy, peace, and human dignity, LDI is co-sponsoring a Pro-Democracy Conference on Liberia at the University of the District of Columbia this June to facilitate an understanding amongst pro-democracy advocates, civic society, opposition political parties and others that the bigger picture of interest is the Republic of Liberia, and the protection of the rights of her people.

Accordingly, LDI calls on the United States Government and Congress -- as a true champion and partner of democracy in the New World -- to assist us in actively undertaking endeavors to ensure democracy and lasting peace in Liberia. Therefore, we resolve that the U.S. Government:

1. Insist on press freedom in Liberia as well as the freeing of all journalists and political detainees currently jailed on bogus charges by the Taylor administration.

2. Pressurize the Taylor regime to allow foreign journalists and United Nations inspectors full and unimpeded access to monitor the release of journalists, politicians, child soldiers and others presently detained in Liberia.

3. Exerts pressure on Mr. Taylor either to put in place practical and verifiable democratic measures before elections in 2003 or for him to resign.

4. Provides logistical, technical and financial assistance to opposition political parties and pro-democracy groups like LDI.

5. Requests the United Nations sanctions on Liberian rubber and timber as well as create an independent auditing of the maritime funds.

6. Freezes the bank accounts of Mr. Taylor, his senior government officials, and his family members and friends who are engaged in his commercial dealings.

7. Increases humanitarian aid to the Liberian people. For the U.S. Government and the international community to continue to find creative ways and means to provide assistance and support for the Liberian people and democratic institutions through the work of local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Liberia.

About LDI: The Liberian Democracy Initiative (LDI) is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan and professional organization dedicated to advancing the interests of Liberia. Information about LDI and its programs can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.tldi.org.

Respectfully submitted,

The Liberian Democracy Initiative

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