Liberian Peace Talks To Be Transferred To Monrovia?
Moses M. Zangar, Jr.
August 15, 2003
Intense discontentment is said to be brewing amongst delegates attending ongoing Liberian peace negotiations at the M-Plaza Hotel in the Ghanaian capital, Accra. Liberian stakeholders, mainly representatives of the 17 opposition political parties are diametrically opposed to reported plans by the ECOWAS Mediation Team to transfer the peace talks to Monrovia.
According to sources, the Team's decision to transfer the talks was made known at a meeting with delegates Wednesday evening. No "substantial reason" has been given for the latest stance. Accordingly, contenders to the armed conflict as well as representatives of political parties and civil society organizations are expected to sign a comprehensive peace deal on Saturday.
Details of whether or not elections for the transitional leadership would still be held in Accra or Monrovia are still scanty, but our sources quoted the facilitator as saying that the departure of delegates from Accra to Monrovia would commence this Sunday.
The reported plan comes barely few days after former Liberian President Charles Taylor
said in his farewell statement that any government formed outside of Liberia would be unconstitutional.
Although that has been no official reaction from the political parties as to the decision, but some delegates at the conference viewed the decision as "unhealthy" and a "ploy" orchestrated by what they term hidden hands to stall the ongoing peace process that is already at its concluding stage. Additionally, they alleged that the decision was prompted by Mr. Taylor's statement; something which they claimed is not in the interest of peace.
They argued that transferring the conference at this time would be a waste of resources, time and energy. Instead, the delegates said West African and Western Mediators should prioritize the conclusion of the talks in Accra since it has reached a final stage.
Many Liberians here have blamed the delay of the negotiations to undue breaks and the reluctance of both facilitator and conferees to end the process. The talks which have been going on for nearly three months now have produced a fragile and unheeded ceasefire agreement with intermittent military arrogance in Monrovia in which an estimated 2,000 people lost their lives while thousands others are dislocated.