The Changes That Must Take Place

By Jeremiah Jefferson Kringar Harris

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

April 22, 2004

As the aftermath of a devastating civil war that shattered, with a vengeance, all semblances of organized civil society in Africa's oldest Republic, a conference was held in Accra, Ghana. The end results of this historic event were a ceasefire and an Accord or Agreement signed by the Warring Factions, Political Parties, and other prominent Interest groups. Moreover, the most significantly inherent and regrettable aspects of the Accra Conference are the multiplicity of problems emanating therefrom, which have become nagging agents of retardation to the effective implementation of the Accra Accords.

As in Banjul, prior to the Interim Presidency of Amos C. Sawyer, the Political Carpetbaggers, in their lust for a sip of the sweet nectar from the honeycomb of power, descended en mass on Accra to advance their self-seeking agendas, to the detriment of the Liberian people. In actuality, like the participants in the notorious Banjul charade, they achieved nothing concrete other than the election of an Interim Leader.

According to the terms of the arrangement negotiated in Accra, each Warring Faction, Political Party, and Interest Group was given responsibility for specific Ministries and other Agencies of government with the relevant authority to appoint the 2 top Officials therein. This, of course, has led to problems which anyone experienced in the art of statecraft would had foreseen during the process of drafting.

However, although the Accord is strangely silent on many subjects pertaining to the ultimate authority in the Executive Branch of the Transitional Government, it does spell out that the Chairman is the Head of State and Government, and ultimately the Leader of the Nation.

As Head of State and Government, the Interim Chairman, is, without a modicum of doubt the Leader of the Nation. As such, he must provide the leadership that the people of Liberia need in these difficult times. The Chairman has the moral authority to ensure that the government speaks with one voice, for if the period of transition is to successfully evolve into a period of participatory democracy, there can be no personal Fiefdoms in the government. No Minister or Head of any Agency of the Executive Branch has the authority to assume the role of a government within a government. This reeks of illegitimacy is not sustainable by any clause or phrase in the Accord, even given the elasticity of that document.

At this juncture, my major concern is will the Interim Government achieve the purpose for which it was designed, and that is an orderly transition to democratic rule possible? It is no cardinal sin to revisit the recent past of government run amok, in the absence of an orderly system of organized goals. This quest could elude our nation and instead lead to absolute pandemonium and dissolution of our nation as a body politic. What a gruesome thought. The over burdened people of our nation do not deserve this as they have already exceeded limits of suffering that any nation can endure.

When Gyude Bryant assumed the mantle of leadership of the Government, it was a complete shambles and hopes for a redemption of the situation seemed more an imagination than a reality. However, I dare say that he has done a remarkable job of restoring to the nation a sense of hope for the future. As a consequence of the aforementioned, the trek towards democratic rule seems to be on track.

Significantly though, if the steady progress must continue unimpeded, I propose the following:
1. That the Chairman continues to work closely with the U. N. Representative Jacques Klein and U. N. Peace Keeping Authority.
2. That the Chairman emphatically asserts his authority and not allow any Minister of Head of any Agency of Government to make decisions by arbitration on major matters of policy, without the consent and approval of the Interim Cabinet.
3. That the Chair man carefully monitors and reviews the appropriations of all government funds, whether for humanitarian reasons, relevant government operational purposes, including the purchase of vehicles. This particular aspect has lately produce a lot of bad publicity for the
Government. Developments as such, tend to detract from the objectives of the Government and do not augur well for the support from the public, which is crucial to the success of the Government.
4. That the Chairman carefully weighs the quality of advice he gets from his close advisors before accepting their recommendations. I speak particularly of Harry Greaves, Jr.
5. That, in cooperation with the U. N. Peace Keeping Authority, a close
tab be kept on all returning War Lords, particularly Prince Johnson and Sekou Conneh.
6. That the Chairman would encourage the minimization of the number of candidacies by advocating the formation of coalitions between candidates/parties with similar agendas and ideologies that could coexist. This would benefit the nation and the electoral process by giving our people a clearer choice.

All things being equal, given the dedication and determination of Chairman Bryant to ensure the success of the Interim Government in the achievement of its objectives, I believe that the country is thus far headed in the right direction. We shall keep our fingers crossed.