Government Of Inclusion - Legacy Of Failed Political Arrangements
Versus Broad Based Government

By: B.J. Samukai



The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
February 9, 2005

The proliferation of political parties, and presidential aspirants under the banner of emerging democratic rights, has generated concerns for narrowing the field of political contentions. These concerns reflect the anxiety for an overwhelming participation in elections 2005, but within a handful set of options to choose from. Suggestions to narrow these options have ranged from “alliances”, “mergers”, and “coalition” of political parties, to formation of ‘government of inclusion’ after elections. It follows that individual ambition may be compromised for the common good of either reducing number of political parties, or number of presidential aspirants, or agreeing to field single presidential candidate, or even agreeing to field agreeable candidates for an electoral slot.

A clear anticipation of benefits from any of the above range of options may be enticing enough to arrive at a consensus. Anticipation of benefits may be that in exchange for such political arrangement, prior commitments are made for lucrative allocations of ministerial positions, as well as other appointed portfolios, or even consensus on leadership in the Legislature. Herein lies the problem.

Initially, how does one relegate individual ambitions for the common good and who makes that determination? How does one compromise the consensus for electoral participation arising out of a party congress? Whose decision is it to narrow the electoral field and how does it conform to the party’s platform for governance and distribution of political appointments?

Notwithstanding the political circumstances, including peace agreements that have led to various types of transitional and interim governments in Liberia since 1990, the legacies of these have been governments that were accused of being corrupt, inept, inexperienced, diabolical warlords, lack of transparency and accountability, total disregard for the rule of law and principles of democratic good governance.

From the Banjul Conference emerged a government of national unity. Its composite and shortfalls are widely known. Then came the interim government under Chairman Kpormakpor (he remained in Monrovia when his fate was being decided by warlords and could not believe that he was being replaced). Thereafter, the regime of Sankarwolo reflected the lowest period of political ineptitude. A spineless display of “when things chakla” occurred with the April 6 bloody fiasco, clear evidence of the blunder of political inclusiveness and the moral decadence of an unprincipled group of politicians (Boley, Taylor and Alhaji Kromah). Later, the surprised emergence of Madam Perry rekindled some hope, but her actions were eclipsed by the composite of the Abuja political arrangement that brought her to power.

The results of elections 1997 and the emerging government of warlord Charles Taylor finally brought to focus the failed regime of a worthless group of corrupt, undemocratic, ineffective and selfish individuals without any respect for the rule of law and good governance, where the laws of the jungle became the rule of law. Taylor’s regime is a category in itself, of gangsters elected to manage the treasury, which they had already intended to loot, and how their scrambling led to the worst form of an elected government.

The emergence and performance of the Bryant-led transitional government in 2003, under the CPA, is the overriding compelling evidence of the failure of governments formed outside of popular mandate, but imposed through political arrangements of inclusiveness and coalition arrangements.

The overriding principle of the above mentioned political arrangements (except Taylor’s government) was to generate sufficient political inclusiveness as mitigating option against war, for a return to peace, security and semblance of civility. Jobs were divided among individuals and groups, without any firm commitment for adhering to basic principles of good governance, and rule of law. Transparency and Accountability were torpedoed to satisfy the rationale for inclusiveness as previously agreed. Corruption and greed were the order of the day, which sought to satisfy the basic principle for which they fought, to loot the coffers of government for their personal benefits.

Thus, government of inclusion, interim government, transitional government, government of national unity, felt under the spell of corruption, lack of transparency and good governance, disregard for the rule of law, leading to disappointment and disillusionment. Such political arrangement limits the option for decisiveness by competent leader.

Taking a cue from these legacies, it should therefore be a crucial part of the over all strategy for on-going discussions relating to elections 2005, delineation of consensus political arrangements for electoral positions, from that of an effective political machinery for governance, restoration of dignity, accountability and transparency in government through positions of appointment. Allocations of appointed portfolios after elections should not be constrained by prior consensus political arrangements that could limit the basis for merits, qualifications, experience, transparency and integrity.

Wherein the strategic implications of political consensus may require inclusiveness beyond electoral positions, it is imperative to establish benchmarks relating to good governance and accountability, which remains within the purview of the discretion of the convening legal authority to be if so violated. Political partnership for elections 2005 should not be a quid-pro-quo arrangement. Such partnership should not be confused with a broad-based government, which is not mortified by abuse or right of political inheritance.