Liberians in the Netherlands Call for Total Disarmament and Elections in Liberia
WHEREAS, The Liberian Association is the umbrella Organisation of all Liberians in the Netherlands, which represents the views and seeks the general welfare of approximately 3,000 Liberians residing in the Netherlands;
WHEREAS, the Leadership of the Liberian Association in the Netherlands (hereinafter referred to as LAH), in view of the current crisis facing Liberia, and the difficult time of Liberians living within the Netherlands;
WHEREAS, reviewing the status quo attaining in the Republic of Liberia, especially as it relates to creating an enabling environment for the safe return of Liberians within the Diaspora and in neighbouring countries as a result of the prolonged civil crisis, thereat;
WHEREAS, contingent upon substantiated reports of Human Rights Groups, Amnesty International, Refugee related Organisations within the Netherlands and International Organizations that the incumbent government, through a number of its security forces and the Armed Forces of Liberia is bent on terrorizing citizens and residents within the borders of the Country as pretext to sustaining itself in state power couple with attacks and advances of the Liberian United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) Rebel Forces;
WHEREAS, the fundamental rights of the person and of the Third Estate, as Enshrined in the Liberian Constitution, and granted under international conventions of which Liberia is a signatory, are denied for the most part within the borders of the Country,
WHEREAS; a significant percentage of the Liberian population, possibly in excess of 50%, still resides outside the Country and within the Netherlands, for fear of persecution and/or recrimination, as is evidenced by the apparent lack of personal security and an enabling environment for family and community sustenance;
WHEREAS, Presidential and General Elections for the determination of public Offices are scheduled for October 2003, when it is clear that conditions are not in place for the conduct thereof pursuant to the constitution of the country, [for example], “the lack of basic tenets”: national population census that will establish and/or demarcate electoral constituencies as a constitutional provision mandating the legislature to cause a census to be undertaken every ten years, the last of which was 1984, the establishment of an independent Election Commission; and voter registration, among others;
WHEREAS, having most of Liberia under armed attacks will inevitably deny the lawful participation of significant constituencies in the General Elections, thereby depriving Liberians of the right to exercising their franchise;
WHEREAS, with the present composition of the Elections Commission, members being partisans and/or sympathizers of the ruling National Patriotic Party, a fair disposition of electoral issues and conduct are not conceivable;
WHEREAS, given the dependency of the Judiciary on the Executive and the
Goodwill of the Office of the President, even though the Constitution demands its independence and separation of powers, justice may be denied or delayed to the detriment of citizens and residents alike; and,
NOW THEREFORE, the Leadership of the Liberian Association in the Netherlands, in consultation with a broad segment of the Humanitarian and Refugee Organisations within the Netherlands, and pursuant to corroborated findings on the prevailing status quo within the Republic of Liberia, has adopted this Resolution:
AND, IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED:
1. That until there is total disarmament, elections in Liberia will never be free and fair, therefore, the pending General Elections scheduled for October 2003 be postponed:
2. That the Netherlands Government re-visit their Foreign Policy toward Liberia and Liberians living within their borders; participate in promoting an end to the Liberia Civil War:
(a) That the rejection of Liberians in the Asylum Procedure, removal of Liberians from refugee facilitates and stopping of all benefits be reconsidered until there is peace in our country:
(b) That repatriation and resettlement of Liberians within the Netherlands (Diaspora) be set in motion timely enough to allow broad-based participation in any General Elections in Liberia:
(c) That educational/training, job opportunities, status/work permits in the form of a general protection be opened to Liberians in the Netherlands so as to make any future repatriation and resettlement easier and smooth, as they would be returning with skills and finances that would intern make it possible to begin a new life in Liberia:
(d) That help be given to the Liberian Association in the Netherlands in undertaking useful projects for their citizens in this country and in the near future, in Liberia for those returning, help leaders of the Association to participate in peace negotiation and promotion, facilitate their visits to other Liberian Organisations around Europe, America and Africa for talks:
3. Given that Article 80(c) of the Liberian Constitution grants, inter alias, the right of every Liberian citizen having attained the required age [Article 77(b) refers also] to be registered and vote in public elections only in the constituency where registered, either in person or by absentee ballot, it behooves the Government to ensure:
4. Pursuant to Article 39 of the Liberian Constitution, a population census should be conducted to ensure the re-demarcation of constituencies and enhance the process of voter registration. In the absence of a census, contrary to the constitutional provision of ten years, there could be neither legitimate representation from the two new counties created by the incumbent government, nor will balloting proceed in areas affected by the armed uprising.
5. Article 80(e) of the Liberian Constitution is emphatic, and furthers the Argument: Immediately following a national census and before the next Election, the Elections Commission shall reapportion the constituencies in accordance with the new population figures so that every constituency shall have as close to the same population as possible; provided, however, that a Constituency must be solely within a county. These Constitutional stipulations were not observed in the 1997 Presidential and General Elections, which brought one of the War-Lords Mr. Charles Taylor to power. Repeating it would mean a continuous instability in Liberia and the West African Region.
Towards accomplishing these stated mission goals, Liberians in the Netherlands, in consultation with other Liberian Organisations in Europe and the United States urge the incumbent Liberian Government, and appeal to the United States Government, as well as the United Nations, The European Union, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Mano River Union, to take the necessary steps in remedying the situation to facilitate an enabling environment for the conduct of free and fair elections in Liberia. Our concept of an enabling environment suggests that the provisions of the Liberian Constitution must be adhered to, with guarantees for peace and security given, instituted and implemented. This could well involve peacekeeping troops galvanized from the West African region or the international community for complete and unconditional disarmament of all arm factions (Government and LURD Rebels).
We believe that in the absence of such measures, a truly democratic transition will not be achieved. Now that the incumbent Liberian Government has ended its terms with failure to achieving peace and stability in the Liberia, an interim government should be given the opportunity to put in place the appropriate remedies within a given timeframe, thus deferring the elections from October 2003. A non-partisan Interim Government should be set up with the specific mandate for the conduct of General Elections in a timely manner pursuant to the Constitution.
We are of the opinion that in case the Liberian Government proceeds with the General Elections without effecting the enabling environment as described hereinabove, and enshrined in the Constitution, further international sanctions be taken against the regime.
In the interim, we urge the international humanitarian community, the Government and peoples of the Netherlands to continue their asylum coverage and humanitarian assistance to the Liberian people. And, that LAH and other Liberian Organisations in Europe adopt measures, in cooperation with national and international NGOs, to effectively monitor and coordinate humanitarian assistance to ensure Liberians live healthily and are accorded the basics for sustenance.
Done in the City of Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Chairman of the Executive Committee