Posted July 22, 2002
Statement of National Resolve
An assembly of Liberian citizens and representatives of Liberian organizations and institutions in the United States of America and in Liberia, joined by American friends of Liberia, converged at the Liberian National Conference (LNC) held June 21- 22, 2002 at the University of the District of Columbia. The theme of the Conference was “Democracy in Liberia: Prospects for Free and Fair Elections”. The LNC was sponsored by the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) and the Liberian Democracy Initiative (LDI).
At the Opening session, UDC President Timothy Jenkins and Vice President Sharon King welcomed participants and made statements in solidarity with Liberian national causes. ULAA Board Chairman Ranney Jackson and LDI Board Chairman Elliott Wreh-Wilson presented statements of purpose. “Our national leaders over the years failed to build a safe and secure democratic and developed nation simply because the tangible strengths of nation-building- national unification, equal social and economic opportunities for all Liberians, sustainable development, and a culture of democracy and human rights never took the center stage in our national life”, said Mydea Reeves-Karpeh, ULAA National President. Tim Dweh Siklo, LDI Executive Director said, “This conference is unique because it illustrates to friends of Liberia in the international community that Liberians have the capacity to put Liberia and the Liberian people first, and thereby relegating individual and group differences to the past”
The LNC attracted about 90 participants, including politicians, democracy and human activists, scholars, community leaders, and representatives of international agencies and Liberian civil society. The Conference benefited from the Expert Opinions of the International Community- David Peterson of the National Endowment for Democracy, Tom Bayer of International Foundation for Election Systems, and John Predergast of the International Crisis Group. Views from Liberia (Civil Society Organizations) were presented by Etweda Cooper of the Liberian Women Initiative, Benedict Sannoh of the Center for Law & human rights, and K. Hasting Payonnoh of the Movement for Democracy and Elections in Liberia. A statement from the Liberian Business Association was submitted. The Conference heard the Views of Liberian Political Parties, as represented by Alhaji Kromah of the All Liberia Coalition Party, J. Mamade Woah-Tee of the Liberian Unification Party and John Josiah of the Liberian People’s Party. Charles Brumskine, Joseph Korto and William Wade articulated their Views as current Liberian Presidential Hopefuls. The platform of The Marcus Dahn 2003 Campaign was submitted. Views from Liberian Organizations in the USA were heard from the Liberian Freedom Alliance, Non-Partisan Collaborative Group, Sinoe County Association, Liberian Community Association of Massachusetts, Liberian Association of Maryland, Liberian Community Association of Greater Pittsburgh, and the Liberian Community Association of Washington, D.C. Metro Area. Several Liberians submitted papers on national issues.
The Conference convened four national issues workshops-Terms and Conditions for Free and Fair Elections, Defining A New Leadership for Liberia, Prospects for Economic Recovery, and Reconciliation, Social Justice and Humanitarian Assistance. Some of the major Recommendations and Resolutions reached at the Liberian National Conference are as follows:
On Country Conditions, Free and Fair Elections and the Electoral Process:
On Defining a New Leadership for Liberia: The participants vetted the problems of past and present Liberian national leadership. They reviewed constitutional and other legal requirements for the presidency and other high government positions. And, within the context of societal expectations and national visions, they call for open scrutiny of records of past performance, personal character and credibility, and a high level of public trust and confidence in persons aspiring for national and local public offices. Potential leaders must be democratic minded and accountable, exhibit a true sense of nationalism and patriotism, and meet high moral standards and ethical values.
On the Prospects for Economic Recovery, the participants called for economic reform entailing merit-based professional civil service, better fiscal and budgetary policies, public spending controls, government accountability and transparency, trade liberalization, tax policy overhaul, new investment incentives, micro-lending and credit, and Liberian private sector support, among others. They further called for a practical program of economic recovery, which will revitalize basic services and public infrastructures, protect the environment and manage our natural resources for future generations, reduce mass poverty and sustain development, attract domestic and foreign investors, and accommodate democratic and human rights conditionalities for international development assistance, private foreign investment, and debt relief and conversion. Incremental steps must provide feasible ways and means for daily living and a better quality of life for all Liberians. Job training, employment, income-producing small-scale enterprises, and civil work projects were cited as the path to national reconstruction. Corruption, monopolistic practices, nepotism, and patronage were noted as stifling economic recovery, growth and development. The participants further decried our country’s long history of unequal distribution of national goods and services and the unequal access to social and economic opportunities.
On Reconciliation, Social Justice, and Humanitarian Assistance: The participants urged a plan of action that unites Liberian citizens around national issues, national needs, and national opportunities, as well as foster national healing, ethnic harmony and religious tolerance. They urged the institution of rule of law, the building of democratic institutions, and institutional capacity building for conflict prevention, resolution and management. The participants further lamented the current deplorable conditions of Liberians, particularly refugees and internally displaced persons-the vast majority of who are mired in abject poverty, live in constant fear and terror, and dying of hunger, diseases, and bullets.
The stated mission of the Liberian National Conference is to help lay the foundation for transparent elections, constitutional rule, human rights protection, and accountable government in Liberia. In this respect, the LNC resolved to attain its goals and objectives as follows:
The LNC will coordinate the implementation of a program of action (resolutions and recommendations) through the sponsoring organizations and a network of Liberian civic organizations here and at home, including participating groups such as the Movement for Democracy and Elections in Liberia, Liberian Women Initiative, and the Center for Law and Human Rights.
The LNC Secretariat has prepared a Post-Conference Statement of National Resolve for news coverage in the national and international media; the Main Resolutions and Recommendations of the Liberian National Conference for presentation to the international community (governments, institutions and organizations); and the Proceedings of the Liberian National Conference, for distribution to Liberian national entities, including the Government, civil society organizations in Liberia, Liberian community associations and national advocacy groups in the United States of America and other parts of the world, individual Conference participants, and other interested parties.
The Liberian National Conference was convened following four other recent national confabs in the United States: The Liberian Forum- A Strategic Forum on Sustaining Democracy and Development in Liberia (Baltimore-May 12-1998), National Conference on Liberia’s Past, Present, and Future (Baltimore-April 1, 2000), and the National Conference on Democracy in Liberia (Newark-April 28, 2001)-all sponsored by the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA); as well as the Symposium on the “ Degradation of the Environment and the Destruction of the Liberian Reforest” (Washington, DC-September 28, 2001) sponsored by the Liberian Democracy Initiative (LDI).
Mydea Reeves-Karpeh, ULAA National President, 410-532-9134, email@example.com
Tim Dweh Siklo, LDI Executive Director, 202-298-9461, firstname.lastname@example.org
Al Gbi Toe, Sr., LNC Secretariat, 973-639-1478, email@example.com