Blue Print For Stability In Liberia
(LURD's Blueprint for Liberia)
October 4, 2002
We present here our blueprint for a democratically stable Liberia. We are committed to the full and unconditional implementation of these proposals regarding structures of governance, and the radical re-organisation of security and other key components of the government. We believe these structures would take the country towards cessation of hostilities, democratisation and reconciliation, stability and reconstruction and development. It is our firm belief that, considering the current state of affairs of our country, this is the way forward.
December 24, 1989, Mr. Charles Taylor launched his bloody civil war. By 1997, that war, at the hands of Mr. Taylor’s NPFL in particular and other warring factions, had taken the lives of some 200,000 persons at home and forced some 750,000 others into refugee camps in neighbouring countries. The level of state disintegration that Mr. Taylor sparked continues as more and more flee his terror.
SPECIAL Elections & Taylor’s Assumption of Absolute Power
On July 19, 1997, Liberians went into an ugly electoral process under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), pursuant to the peace accord signed in Abuja, Nigeria. This was an electoral process in which the Liberian population, having been brought to their knees by Mr. Taylor’s blackmails by deaths and destruction, with a significant portion of the population remaining in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, had no voice and power to have ensured its free and fairness. Of a population of at least 2.5 million with some 200,000 already killed, only 750,00 were registered to vote. In fact candidates who were outside the spheres of warring groupings had no equal access to the fields as the country was largely controlled by Mr. Taylor’s forces and the remaining fractions were divided among the rest of the warring parties.
The elections however, were intended to have produced a government that would guarantee the safety and security of the parties in particular and the Liberian people in general. This was in effect, a political settlement that was intended to put an end to seven years of a bloody civil war.
It was believed then, that confidence, a necessary element of national reconciliation and lasting peace, would have to be nurtured, beginning with the intents of the parties in good faith to make peace. Evidence in this case may be found in the fact that the first post-war government which is now headed by Mr. Taylor, was mandated to restructure the Army, Police and the various security agencies with a view to reflect neutrality. That is, none of the parties to the agreement was to maintain dominance over the army or any of the security agencies.
Section H, Article 9 count 4 of the AKOSOMBO AGREEMENT which forms a substantive basis of the Abuja Accord bestowed this trust upon the government thus: ‘Internal security arrangements including police, customs and immigration will be put in place immediately. Planning for restructuring and training of the AFL (Armed Forces of Liberia) will be the responsibility of the LNTG, with assistance from ECOWAS, United Nations and friendly governments.’ From the plain meaning of this .. provision of the agreement, it is clear that the government was placed in a position of public trust.
In this scheme, ECOWAS, the United Nations and friendly governments as referred to therein were merely given supervisory roles. Since the government is manifestly the statement of the general will of the governed, the sound exercise of this trust was reasonably and fairly expected to lay (sic) the foundation upon which future confidence building exercises would rest. In effect, this was the test to determine whether the hopes and expectations of the Liberian people as raised during the entire peace process would be justified. In other words, the warring parties to the agreement, the Liberian people and the facilitators expected the men who voluntarily affixed their signatures to these sacred documents to be men of honour. Nothing less could have been reasonably expected under the circumstances.
Taylor Assumes Absolute Power
Following the aforesaid elections, Mr .Charles Taylor was declared president. The legislature, which in our form of government, has a significant power to ensure checks and balances in government was also placed under his control. Mr. Charles Taylor had assumed absolute power. Interestingly, Mr. Taylor, contrary to the spirit of the very accord that resulted to the elections thus declaring him Mr. Taylor president, began to interpret those same elections results as a surrender of a threatened, powerless population to the armed might of its conqueror. And for sure, Mr. Taylor began to perceive himself as that conqueror.
Hence, the ECOWAS Peace Plan, which called for the full implementation of the ABUJA Accord that mandated among other things:
1. The restructuring of the military and security institutions of Liberia to reflect ethnic and geographical balance;
2. Designing of a framework for social and economic recovery;
3. Repartriation and resettlement of all refugees and internally displaced people; and
4. Conducting a program of Reconciliation;
was dumped into the garbage bin of history. What came in place of it was an agenda to intensify the looting of Liberia’s resources and to divide them amongst the conquering gang, with anyone daring to speak against it being punished by either death or, if lucky by imprisonment or being chased out of the country . Examples are the murders of Mr. Samuel Dokie, Madam Nowa Flomo, some 300 Krahns killed on Camp Johnson Road on September 18, 1998. Others are the imprisonment of opposition politicians, and journalists.
This dictatorial decree is popularly coined in the Liberian street jargon as DON’T TOUCH THE PAPPY’S PEPPER BUSH.
To crown his arrogance, and insensitivity, Mr. Taylor out turned his NPFL into the national army and other security agencies. This worsened the security situation in the country and broke down every little remaining trust the citizens and residents had in national the security network, and about Taylor’s seriousness for good governance.
In spite of popular public demands for reconciliation and implementation of the ABUJA Accord to allow a responsible transition to programs of nation building, Mr. Taylor resolved to embark on a larger scheme of banditry this time, by expanding his sphere of control in the entire Mano River Basin comprising Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. He intensified the destructions of lives and properties in Sierra Leone, with amputations of the civilian population and massive looting of diamond fields being the prominent features of his presence there. Mr. Taylor entered Guinea and killed and destroyed as many people and villages as possible. Instead of resurrecting the socio-economic infrastructures of Liberia which he had earlier destroyed, the continuous looting of Liberia’s resources, making wars in Sierra Leone and Guinea and drug trafficking became his priorities;
Clearly, it soon became known to those who still had some hope, that thefts and plunders were the reasons for turning the NPFL into the National Army and other security agencies. And, when that happened, the wave of uniform armed robberies, murders and rapes that engulfed the capital city threatened everyone outside the NPFL , creating a security chaos in the country.
Considering the state of affairs of our country Liberia, as described above, we in the Liberians United for Reconciliation & Democracy, LURD, being made up of all of the segments of the Liberian society irrespective of ethnic, political, religious or social backgrounds, hereby declare our national objectives as follows
- To create the necessary conditions to enable Liberians to reconcile their differences, democratise their country, thereby restore peace and stability;
- To promote and maintain regional and international peace and security;
- To uphold respect international and constitutional laws
Realising these objectives, we believe will enhance the reconstruction and development of our country; realising these objectives, we firmly believe, considering the role of Mr. Charles Taylor in the Mano River Basin in particular and West Africa in general, will restore lasting peace and stability in the entire region.
PRAGMATIC PLAN OF ACTION
The following, therefore, is a descriptive outline of our plan of action for Liberia:
Cessation of Hostilities & Convening Of National Conference For Formation Of Interim Government
Upon Mr. Taylor’s removal from power, LURD will immediately call upon Liberians, including all segments of the Liberian society, to convene a National Conference at which a caretaker government that will present all Liberians will be formed. All civic organizations including the Inter-Religious Council, political parties, the masses of the Liberian people -- the ordinary citizens who are the most affected of the war will surely be represented and have a voice in the decision making process at this conference.
International supervision or involvement - the UN, the AU, ECOWAS - in such a National Conference to ensure compliance to standards of democracy, will be necessary. LURD will appeal to the US and EU specifically to play major roles in this process.
This government will be called:
INTERIM GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL RECONCILIATION & RECONSTRUCTION
The government will have a life span of two years for certain.
Duties Of The Interim Government
The primary responsibility of the interim government is specifically geared towards, but not limited to, achieving the following administrative goals:
a. Establishing good relations with Liberia’s neighbours and the international community.
b. Repatriation and Resettlement of Liberian Refugees.
c. Resettlement and aiding of all internally displaced Liberians.
d. Restoration of electricity in the nation’s capital and the laying of a ground work for nationwide electrification after election.
e. Restoration of telecommunications in the nation’s capital and the design of a plan for a nationwide telecommunications network for next regime.
f. Restoration of water, and sewage management in the nation’s capital and laying plan for a nationwide clean water supply system after election.
g. Improvement of streets in the nation’s capital and laying plan for a nationwide highway system for the next government.
h. Convening a national constitutional conference, eight months upon the assumption of office by the Interim Government, to review and deliberate upon the Constitution of Liberia, and other national policies issues such as:
- Whether we should maintain or minimise the current powers of the Liberian President as a guard against usurpation.
- Whether we should maintain the centralized form of government or create a decentralized government to put in place more checks and balances against dictatorship.
- Whether we should elect superintendents once known as governors or still have them appointed by the president.
- Whether revenue should be shared between the political sub-divisions and the central government and if so, at what percentage and how should the collection be done?
- Whether each political sub-division should control its own police force or should we maintain the National Police Force.
- Whether Justices of the Supreme Court, judges and magistrates should be elected by the people to give the Judicial Branch of Government the independence it needs to administer transparent justice or should the president continue to appoint judicial officials.
i. Re-establishing public education and public health systems in the Nation’s Capital and developing a plan for public education and public health care systems nationwide for implementation after election.
j. Establishing a Public Commission of experts, opinion leaders and businessmen from all sectors of the country with the authority to set up a performance timetable and to review the performance of the Interim Government on a quarterly basis. The Interim Head of State should appoint such Commission.
Six months into the interim period, the United Nations shall be requested to conduct national elections at the end of the two-year period. The Head of State and Vice Head of State of the Interim Government shall not be eligible to run for public office. Other high officials of the Interim Government shall resign six months prior to national elections if they wish to canvass for public office
Nature, Terms of Reference & Selection Of Interim Government
The INTERIM GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL RECONCILIATION & RECONSTRUCTION WILL be of the original form of governance with which Liberians are familiar as follows
Head of State and Vice Head of State
Departments and other administrative agencies and publicCorporations.
The United Nations should be asked to oversee National security as well as re-structuring and training the National Army and the paramilitary forces, during the Interim period. The US government shall be asked to do the actual training of the National Army and paramilitary forces.
Selection: Interim President & Vice President
The Interim President & Vice President shall be selected at the national conference referred to earlier above.
Bi-camera legislative body
House of Senate and House of Representatives
Selection: The Interim Legislative Body
The Interim Legislative members (Senators & Representatives) shall be selected by the people of the various political sub-divisions.
The Courts and their administrative organs
Selection: Judicial Officials, Members of Cabinet and other officials shall be appointed by the Interim President upon the advice and consent of the Interim Legislature.
All selections and appointments of officials in government should be done within thirty(30) days upon assumption of office by the Interim President.