Liberian Peace Confab Faces Impediment

By Moses M. Zangar, Jr. In Akosombo, Ghana

By Moses M. Zangar, Jr.
Akosombo, Ghana

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

June 11, 2003

International stakeholders and facilitators of the Liberian peace summit have pointed to the resumption of hostilities, especially in Monrovia as a key factor impeding the peace negotiations.

The facilitators had earlier named the delay by the rebel Movement for Democracy in Liberia(MODEL) to attend the meeting as another factor impeding the resumption of the talks. The military wing of MODEL arrived at weekend to attend the conference. But the talks could not begin due to the absence of MODEL’s political wing which was said to have been enroute from the U.S. Edward Slangar, Gen. Boi Bleaju Boi and Col. Christopher Deebie, among others are expected to form part of the delegation.

Consequently, the conference has failed to resume since its formal opening on June 4. The talks are due to be held among Liberian stakeholders in the Conference Hall of the Volta Hotel in Akosombo, about 104 kilometers from the Ghanain capital, Accra.

However, two of the critical parties to the armed conflict, the rebels Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and the Government are in Akosombo for the talks.

The LURD delegation is headed by former National Port Authority (NPA) Manager Kabina Ja’neh, one time Health Minister and former Councilman Vamba Kanneh as well as former lawmaker George Dweh, renowned Liberian lawyer, Lavali Supuwood, Charles Bennie, among others. On the other hand, Lewis Brown, NPP’s Chairman Cyril Allen, Secretary General John Whitfield, Senator Mohammed Dukuly, former Justice Minister Eddington Vamah and others are representing the Liberian Government.

Opposition politicians Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, Abraham Mitchell, Dr. Marcus Dahn, Dr. Togba Nah-Tipoteh are also in attendance.

Former Nigerian Head of State and Facilitator and Mediator on the Liberian peace talks, Gen. Abdusalami Alhaji Abubakar, the European Union’s Representative to Liberia, Geoffery Rudd and Ghana’s Foreign Minister Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in separate remarks Friday expressed regrets over the renewed fighting in Monrovia. They called on the forces involved to immediately halt the fighting and remain in their respective positions.

Gen. Abdusalami Alhaji Abubakar warned the armed groups to stop any further aggression. He described the renewed fighting as being “quite disturbing” for the peace talks, noting that the reported new military offensive is unhealthy for the peace process and also unhealthy to such groups.

The former Nigerian Head of State said the question of a cease-fire must be addressed with “unselfish honesty” to avoid turning Liberia into what he called “an endless killing field and colony of miserable displaced persons in camps, who live on handouts of charity like beggars.”

Though the process of attaining peace is complex, he said, Liberian stakeholders must approach the issues with open minds for the sake of the suffering people of Liberia. “You should not be slaves to preconceived positions or remain inflexible. Where necessary, painful sacrifices and concessions should be made to save Liberia,” he urged.

For his part, the European Union’s Representative Geoffery Rudd spoke of an escalating and intensified fighting in Monrovia with attending humanitarian consequences.

Mr. Rudd, quoting sources in Monrovia said the fighting has led to the dislocation of thousands of IDPs who are fleeing into Monrovia from its outsketch.

At same time, Ghana’s Foreign Minister Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has promised his Government’s commitment to the peace process.

Obviously, Mr. Akufo-Addo said a cease-fire negotiation requires the presence of all parties to the conflict. “It doesn’t make much sense to continue the talks when one of the parties is absent and the fighting is escalating and intensifying.

He emphasized that the talks would not resume unless the war stops and MODEL is present at the summit. These two conditions, he hoped would have been met as soon as possible.

However, the talks are rescheduled to resume on today, Wednesday, June 11.