Ouagadougou Conference Calls for an end to the War in Liberia
Posted July 15, 2002
Leaders from 10 Liberian political parties and 14 civic organizations, joined by leaders of the rebel movement, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), concluded a 4-day conference of the Liberian Leadership Forum with a commitment to rally the Liberian people around a plan to bring an end to the violent conflict in their country. Known as the Ouagadougou Declaration, the plan calls for an immediate ceasefire between the forces of the government of President Charles Taylor and LURD; the deployment of an international security stabilization force to take charge of security throughout the country and to monitor the ceasefire; the disarmament and demobilization of government and rebel troops; restructuring and retraining Liberia’s military and its paramilitary forces; establishing a mechanism to manage peace-building and the democratic process; and holding elections that are free and fair according to international standards.
To implement the Ouagadougou Declaration, conference delegates formalized the Liberian Leadership Forum as a vehicle for consultation and collaboration among political parties and civil society groups in and out of Liberia by appointing the Working Group that organized the conference to serve as the Forum’s Coordinating Committee, with responsibility for managing its day-to-day affairs.
The conference called for the creation of an international Contact Group to comprise Nigeria, Senegal, Burkina Faso, the United States, France and the United Kingdom and appealed for the cooperation and support of the Liberian government, the Mano River Union, ECOWAS, the African Union and the European Union. It is envisaged that the Contact Group will take the lead in mobilizing the support of the international community for the peace plan.
Receiving conference delegates at his presidential palace, Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore expressed his government’s commitment to working with the Liberian people for the restoration of peace and democracy in their country. He accepted the request of the conference for Burkina Faso to serve on the proposed Contact Group with an undertaking to help encourage all-round support for the implementation of the Ouagadougou Declaration.
Noting the absence of the National Patriotic Party, he informed the delegates that he had sent a personal emissary to Monrovia to prevail upon President Taylor to send a representative to the conference, but that his request had not been heeded.
The conference was formally opened on July 8, 2002 by Minister of State Salif Diallo on behalf of President Compaore, who was in Durban attending the inaugural summit of the African Union. It was chaired by Dr. Amos Sawyer, former President of the Interim Government of National Unity (1990-1994), and included observers from Ouagadougou’s diplomatic community. Addresses were delivered by Col. M.D. Dikio, special representative of the ECOWAS Executive Secretary, and Mr. Jeffrey Krilla, Africa program director of the International Republican Institute of the United States of America.
The conference benefited immensely from previous initiatives by many Liberian and non-Liberian entities in the search for ways to end the armed conflict and usher in good governance and enduring peace in the country. Key among the Liberian initiatives were those carried out by the Inter Religious Council of Liberia, the Mano River Union Women Peace Network, the leadership meeting of March 14-15 held in Abuja (Nigeria), the Civil Society Movement, and the June 28-29 Bethesda (USA) conference. It was also noted, with satisfaction that for the first time LURD was meeting with Liberian political and civic leaders in a public forum. The absence of the ruling party was seen as a regrettable missed opportunity for the government to engage LURD in the advancement of peace.
Responding to what they consider as urgent demands from the Liberian people for greater unity among political parties, the leaders of political parties attending the conference pledged to encourage their parties to form mergers, alliances and/or coalitions.
The hosting of the conference was made possible through the generous support of the Burkinabe government and the Soros Foundation.
Conference participants and observers are listed below for easy reference.
All Liberian Coalition Party
Free Democratic Party
Liberia Action Party
Liberia Unification Party
Liberian National Union
Liberian People's Party
New Deal Movement
Reformation Alliance Party
United People's Party
Civil Society Organizations:
Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas, USA
Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia, Monrovia
Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Monrovia
Center for Democratic Empowerment, Abidjan
Civil Society Movement of Liberia, Monrovia
Exiled Student Leaders Group, Ghana
Inter Religious Council, Monrovia
Liberian Democracy Resource Center, Monrovia
Liberian Consultative Group, USA
Liberian National Bar Association, Monrovia
Movement for Democratic Change in Liberia, USA
National Human Rights Center, Monrovia
Press Union of Liberia, Monrovia
Rural Women of Liberia, Accra
Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD)
Economic Community of West African States
International Republican Institute
Diplomatic Missions near Ouagadougou
Radio Veritas, Monrovia
Inquirer Newspaper, Monrovia
Released by the Coordinating Committee of the Liberian Leadership Forum.
Conmany B. Wesseh
The Coordinating Committee - Liberian Leadership Forum
06 BP 397, Abidjan 06 Tel: (225) 22 411 421 Fax: (225) 22 449 887