Invite Qualified Liberians to Participate in Interim Government


By Winsley S. Nanka

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 15, 2003

Political parties, the belligerent forces and the interest groups at the peace conference must invite qualified Liberians to participate in the interim government that is being formed in Ghana. Now that Mr. Taylor has departed Liberia, Liberians have the daunting task of harnessing their resources for the creation of a sustainable political and economic environment. Restructuring a modern Liberian state would be difficult to achieve because the socio-economic infrastructures of Liberia have been incapacitated by decades of barbaric civil wars. In addition, Liberia does not currently have a significant exploitable commercial natural resource base that would generate sufficient revenue to meet the socio- economic development needs of Liberia. Therefore, Liberia would have to depend on bilateral and multilateral sources to meet its short-term and medium term reconstruction needs.

Bilateral and multilateral agencies would be reluctant to contribute toward the restructuring of Liberia if the interim political arrangement that emerges from Accra does not comprise qualified Liberians of integrity and honesty. Moreover, these Liberians must have the abilities to get the job done efficiently.

Even though there is goodwill on the part of the international community to help jumpstart Liberia, only qualified Liberians will sustain whatsoever progress the international community makes in Liberia. The first indication of whether Liberians are prepared to rebuild Liberia will be demonstrated by the quality of the interim government that emerges from Accra. So far, the indications do not seem to be promising.

First, eighteen political parties, several civic organizations and the belligerent forces have been in Accra for more than sixty days and have not agreed on the framework for peace in Liberia. More so, most of the candidates for the interim presidency do not appear to be the kinds of people to heal the wounds created by decades of civil war. The list of the interim candidates is crowded with individuals who have spent decades around the Liberian political environment. Most of these individuals have created hard core political supporters and hard core political opponents; consequently, they may not be suitable for the interim presidency at this crucial period in Liberia.

Second, most of the “leaders” of the political parties are not representing their parties because they fled into exile due to harrassment and intimidation by the Taylor regime. According to some of the exile politicians excluded from the peace conference, makeshift representatives were certified by the Liberian Elections Commission and are representing the parties at the conference. Most of these representatives according to sources at the conference have serious limitations that may impact the quality of the leadership that emerges.

Third, the delegates at the peace conference appear to have limited their search for the interim presidency to Liberians in Accra. The search for the interim president does not have to be that way. One does not have to be in Accra to be considered for the top spot. There are many qualified Liberians of impeccable reputations that could be considered. Several examples are Stephen Guseh, Elwood Dunn, Rev. Napoleon Devine-to name a few. These Liberians and others have demonstrated their objectivity and leadership capabilities over the years.

Liberian political leaders have to work very hard to attract qualified Liberians to participate in the governing of Liberia. One good way to start is for the political parties, and interest groups to post the various responsibilities that would be allocated to them at the Liberian internet media sites and invite qualified Liberians interested in the rebuilding of Liberia to submit applications for these positions. Nearly all the political parties, the belligerent forces and civic society groups at the peace conference have serious human resource limitations. They may not be able to find qualified people in their ranks to fill the various responsibilities that would be allocated to them. Qualified Liberians from a broad spectrum of Liberians could then be selected to work with the United Nations expert scheduled in Liberia to restructure the Liberian society. After the United Nations experts leave Liberia, the qualified Liberians would then continue to meet the social economic development needs of Liberia.

Participants at the Accra peace conference have the obligation to the Liberian people to select the most qualified and objective person to head the interim government. Accordingly, it is incumbent upon the delegates to organize debates among the interim presidential contenders. Each candidate must spell out his plans for the interim presidency, how he hopes to achieve his goals and how he plans to harness the resources of Liberia to help bring peace and security to the Liberian people.

If Liberians fail to establish a solid foundation for the rebuilding of Liberia, it would be difficult for the country to make progress. There may be peace and security in Liberia if qualified Liberians participate in the governing process. Also, the willingness of the international community to help Liberia may to a large extent depend on the quality of the political arrangement in Liberia.