Statement by Opposition
Political Parties of Liberia On the Upsurge of Military Hostilities
(Press Statement Issued on July 30, 2003 in Accra, Ghana)
August 1, 2003
Today marks the 58th day since the commencement of the Accra Peace Conference on Liberia and the 43rd since the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement among the belligerents, to which we were witnesses. Over this period of time, the opposition political parties have, in good faith, cooperated with other stakeholders, particularly the warring parties, in an effort to bring genuine and lasting peace to our motherland, Liberia. In the same vein, we have also worked assiduously with the Mediator and his corps of facilitators. In spite of the atrocities the warring parties have committed against our people, we sat with them to discuss the future of our country. This is indicative of our tolerance and ardent desire for peace. These efforts notably produced a draft Comprehensive Peace Agreement that raised the hopes of all Liberians for peace.
Despite the achievements of the Ceasefire Agreement and the draft Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the belligerents have once again chosen to recommence fighting, against the will of the Liberian people and the repeated advice of the international community. The current fighting in Monrovia and Buchanan has created a catastrophic humanitarian situation that is unparalleled in the history of almost two decades of our civil crises.
These renewed military hostilities would have been averted had the long awaited interposition force been deployed to separate the belligerent forces. Despite (i) the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Liberia; (ii) the availability of ECOWAS troops to move into Liberia; (iii) the positioning of US forces off the shores of Liberia to support the deployment of these troops; (iv) the reported initial financial assistance of US$10 million by the United States; and (v) the repeated calls of the Secretary General of the United Nations to have the troops quickly move into Liberia; we are saddened that all of the concerns, calls, pronouncements and decisions have regrettably not culminated in the wanted positive action of having the interposition troops on the ground in Liberia. Under the circumstances, the political parties and people of Liberia strongly believe that the undue delay in the deployment of the troops represents a lack of political will on the part of the international community, particularly the United States of America, to do what is necessary to resolve the Liberian crisis.
While the efforts of the international community are yet to reach fruition, we note with profound indignation the pattern of intrigue, deception and double-standards that has been employed by the belligerents, particularly LURD and MODEL, since the signing of the ceasefire agreement on 17th June, 2003. As a demonstration of their insensitivity to the plight of the war-weary people of Liberia, they have repeatedly violated the June 17th ceasefire agreement, causing the death of hundreds of women, children and other innocent civilians. The callous action of the belligerents to indiscriminately rain missiles on densely populated refuge centers, residential areas, churches and displaced centers is barbaric and totally unacceptable. This irresponsible behavior questions their motivation for the war they are prosecuting as well as their capacity to meaningfully contribute to national healing and governance. Indeed their actions make them suitable candidates for accountability before a war crimes tribunal.
As political parties, we will not countenance the shelling of innocent, unarmed civilians, whatever the reason. Having critically analyzed the situation in Liberia, the opposition political parties of Liberia are adopting the following measures with immediate effect.
1. The seventeen opposition political parties cautiously welcome the unilateral
declaration of a ceasefire by LURD. The parties take cognizance, however,
of the fact that the war is still raging in Bassa between MODEL and the Government
of Liberia, and
between LURD and the Government in Gbarnga. In view of the foregoing, the political parties are adopting the position that they will discontinue any and all negotiations with the belligerents should they not allow the ECOWAS force free passage to conduct their peacekeeping mission in Liberia.
2. We call on the international community, particularly ECOWAS, the United States, France and Britain, to bring pressure to bear on Guinea and Ivory Coast to halt their diplomatic, political and military support to LURD and MODEL.
3. We also call on all ECOWAS countries, particularly Guinea and Ivory Coast,
to expel all elements of the political and military leadership of LURD and
MODEL residing in the comfort, luxury and security of their countries and
send them back to Liberia so that they can experience, first hand, the massive
suffering they are imposing on the Liberian people.
4. We also call on the United States and European Union to place a travel ban on, and freeze the assets of, the political and military leaders of MODEL and LURD residing in the United States and Europe.
6. We call on ECOWAS, the AU, the EU, the International Contact Group on Liberia and the United Nations’ Security Council to begin to develop and put into place the mechanism for a War Crimes Tribunal for Liberia for crimes being committed against humanity so as to put in check the culture of impunity that has arisen in our country.
6. We call on the United States, once again, to step up to the plate and provide leadership in the deployment of a peacekeeping force in Liberia. As a start, ECOWAS is calling for United States logistical and material support for a rapid deployment of its force stationed in neighboring Sierra Leone. We strongly urge the United States to heed to this call. Liberia’s relationship with the United States has deep historical roots, stretching back more than 150 years. Liberia was a strong ally during the Cold War, allowing its territory to serve as host to significant American security assets. Liberia has been a faithful friend. That friendship is now crying out for reciprocity.
Once again, we remind LURD and MODEL that territorial conquest at this time is an effort in futility, as no amount of intimidation or blackmailing through the acquisition of territory will ever serve as a basis for the determination of the future political leadership of Liberia. The best way forward in the resolution of the crisis in our country is through dialogue and negotiations as provided for by the Accra peace talks and not by force of arms.
Over and above, we wish to assure the mediator, Gen. Abubakar, and his corps of facilitators, of our unwavering commitment to the search for just and lasting peace in our country and the sub-region through dialogue and negotiations. Ours is an action intended to give meaning and support to the peace process instead of continuing business as usual with those whose apparent objective is to wreck the Accra talks, exhaust the patience of the international community, take power through the force of arms and, subsequently, install a military junta over the corpses of the Liberian people.
Finally, while we appreciate the efforts of the international community, particularly ECOWAS, EU and the United States, we call on them to expeditiously deploy the interposition force in Liberia in order to stop the carnage and create space for the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance.
Issued by the Secretariat of Opposition Political Parties
1. ALL LIBERIAN COALITION PARTY:
2. FREE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF LIBERIA:
3. LABOR PARTY OF LIBERIA:
4. LIBERIA ACTION PARTY
5. LIBERIA EQUAL RIGHTS PARTY:
6. LIBERIA NATIONAL UNION
7. LIBERIAN PEOPLE’S PARTY
8. LIBERIAN UNIFICATION PARTY:
9. NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF LIBERIA:
10. NATIONAL REFORMATION PARTY:
11. NEW DEAL MOVEMENT:
12. PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF LIBERIA:
13. PROGRESSIVE PEOPLE’S PARTY:
14. REFORMATION ALLIANCE PARTY:
15. TRUE WHIG PARTY
16. UNITED PEOPLE’S PARTY:
17. UNITY PARTY: