Parties Recommend Amendments in Draft Peace Agreement -- Factions on board, elections in 2005

By: Wellington Geevon-Smith
Accra, Ghana

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 5, 2003

Negotiating parties at the ongoing Peace Conference on Liberia in Accra, Ghana have made several recommendations to amend the ‘Draft Peace Agreement’ put forward by ECOWAS mediators. The mediators are holding consultation with individual parties for a consensus before a final document can be drawn and signed.

Article XXIV, Section2 of the draft document says “No leader of any of the warring parties i.e. the GOL, the LURD, and the MODEL, shall be the President or Vice President of the NTGL.” This provision of the mediators’ draft agreement was endorsed by ECOWAS Heads of State and Government at their recent summit held in Ghana.

Following careful review of the draft and intensive negotiations amongst the parties, it has been recommended that the political parties take the Presidency while the position of Vice President for the transitional government goes to the warring parties.

Also the negotiating parties recommend that the positions of Speaker and Deputy Speaker be occupied by representatives of the warring parties. This recommendation somehow clarifies Article XXIII, Section 5(b) of the draft, which states that “The positions of Speaker and Deputy Speaker shall be allocated to PARTIES to this Agreement through a process of negotiation.”

They further recommended that the membership of the transitional legislature be augmented from 50 as proposed by the draft document to 61. Also the mediators’ draft proposed that representation as the assembly shall include Government of Liberia, LURD, MODEL, Political Parties, Civil Society Technocrats and Counties. But the negotiating parties argue that what constitutes ‘Technocrats’ in the current Liberian political reality was not clear and they recommend that ‘Technocrats’ be dropped.

On the duration of the interim government, Article XXI of the draft says the mandate of the interim government shall expire on the third Monday of January 2005. The intent of this provision was to carry the country to election by October 2004.

But the parties said the problems facing Liberia is not the matter of election. They believe there are a lot of work to be done including resuscitating the entire system of governance in Liberia, repatriation and resettlement of refugees and internally displaced people, security, free movement, voters’ registration and elections. The negotiating parties recommend that the duration of the interim government be two years. If the recommendation is accepted, general and presidential elections would be held in October 2005.

Meanwhile, expectations are high at the conference center in Accra that the Peace Agreement, following consensus, would be signed in a couple of days.