New Government Takes Seat In Liberia

By J. Wesley Washington


The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted October 15, 2003

Chairman Gyude Bryant Vice Chairman Wesley Johnson
Another page in Liberia’s checkered 156 years history has been writing on October 14th with the induction of Charles Gyude Bryant and Wesley Momo Johnson as Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively of the in new National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL).

Messrs. Bryant and Johnson are took over from interim President Moses Z. Blah and recent inducted vice president John Gray who have been steering the affairs of state since the departure of former president Charles Ghankay Taylor on August 11, 2003.

This unusual political arrangement is the fourth of its kind in Liberia’s history aimed at bringing lasting peace to the country after several years of senseless fratricidal wars.

The first, though different from what is obtaining this time around, took place following the UN-sponsored conference in Geneva, Switzerland in July 1993 and later transferred to Cotonou, Benin, where the Cotonou Agreement evolved (followed by two other Cotonou Conferences) which produced a coalition transitional government that included a 5-member Council of State, a 35-member Legislative Assembly, a 5-member Supreme Court and a 7-member Elections Commission.
That arrangement culminated out of the Cotonou Agreement (Cotonou 1) was formally signed on July 25, 1993, by Dr. Amos Sawyer for the Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU), Mr. Enoch Dogolea, for the NPFL and Maj./Gen. Alhaji G. V. Kromah, for ULIMO. The three belligerent parties at the time.

On March 7, 1994 following changes made in the original selection of the 5-member Council of State at Cotonou II and the elections of a chairman at the Riverview Conference on February 28, 1994, the first 5-member Council of State was inducted. It included Cllr. David Kpomakpor, Chairman; Lt/Gen. Isaac Mussah, Dr. El Mohamed Sherif, Cllr. Philip A. Z. Banks, and Mr. Dexter B. tahyor as members.

Much was not achieved by the warring factions’ proxies on the first council of state. The Council of State was increased to six members when both Kromah and Taylor insisted that a tribal elder be placed on the state council.

On the second Council of State, Professor Wilton Sankawolo served as Chairman, while Charles Ghankay Taylor, Alhaji G. V. Kromah, Dr. George E. S. Boley, Oscar J. Quiah and Chief Tamba Tailor served as vice chairmans.

Again after the peace process hit the rocks as a result of the April 6, 1996 Monrovia fighting, an Abuja Agreement had to rescue the situation at which time the chairman, Prof. Sankawolo was replaced with Mrs. Ruth Sando Perry.

With the elections and subsequent inauguration of President Charles G. Taylor on August 2, 1997, it was hoped that at last peace had finally returned. Liberia had regained its status among the comity of nations.

Unfortunately, two years later, in 1999 Liberia was again plunged into another fratricidal war by a new warring faction, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) which was joined lately by anther rebel group the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL).

The three belligerent parties (GOL, LURD and MODEL) reached a consensus at the Accra Conference selecting Charles Gyude Bryant out of a total of 11 candidates for chairmanship. Wesley Johnson topped three short-listed candidates out of six persons vying for the position.

Following 75 days of hectic negotiations and arms twisting, the deliberations culminated in the formation of a two-year post-war transitional government.

Unlike the Cotonou and Abuja Agreements, this time around, according to Article XXV (i) OF THE Accra Peace Agreement, the NTGL is to be headed by a person to be called the Transitional Chairman... assisted by a Transitional Vice Chairman.

As enshrined in Article XXII(i) its mandate is among other things to ensure the scrupulous implementation of the peace agreement including (2a-d) which states: "IN addition to normal state functions, it will seek the implementation of the political and rehabilitation programs enunciated in the agreement; promote reconciliation of peace and stability to the countr4y and its people, as well as contribute to the preparation and conduct of an internationally supervised elections in October 2005, for the inauguration of an elected government for Liberia in January 2006.

Liberia’s transitional chairman, in his maiden statement following is selection told journalists in Accra that he brings to the job a "neutral reconciling and healing character".

He reminded Liberians that "too many tempers are inflamed and we need to cool them down. We need to cool Liberia down."

On how he sees himself as Chairman, Mr. Bryant said, "I don’t see myself as being a contentious person I don’t see myself as posing a threat," adding, "I have taken the job because I think our country needed a cooling off period..."

Chairman Bryant has a great challenge ahead of him as he steers the affairs of state. With the help of the international community, ECOWAS, Un and others, Liberia can once more gain her respect within the comity of nations.

Congratulations Chairman Bryant and Vice Chairman Johnson.
© 2003: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.