Presidential Hopeful Assesses Peace Talks

Moses M. Zangar, Jr.
Accra, Ghana

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

June 17, 2003

Despite "enormous efforts" by West African mediators to secure a peace agreement aimed at quashing continuous violence in Liberia, a presidential hopeful has described the ongoing Akosombo peace negotiations as a one that is gradually becoming a "big fiasco."

Dr. Marcus Dahn of the United People's Party (UPP) said that he was disappointed by the snail pace at which the conference was going - apparently owing to its poor organization.

The UPP's presidential aspirant further considered the Akosombo peace talks as a place for pomp or pageantry and another avenue for the exuberance of cosmetic statements.

In an exclusive interview Friday, Dr. Marcus Dahn alleged, ..."I can also see the undue financial influence of Mr. Charles Taylor in the conference."

He cited what he called the "Wednesday's (June 4) fiasco" during which he alleged that President Taylor was "let go" to return to Monrovia coupled with the "unequal representation" of delegates at the talks as reasons to support his claims.

Dr. Dahn further claimed that the Government has more representatives than all of the other groups attending the peace conference. This "unequal representation," he maintained, is one of the factors responsible for the poor achievement at the negotiations thus far.

Moreover, the UPP stalwart alleged that the facilitators and mediators had predetermined the outcome of the conference.

The current peace talks among Liberian stakeholders are being brokered by the 15 ECOWAS nations with the support of the International Contact Group on Liberia (ICG-L).

At the same time, the presidential aspirant averred that the conference has not proven anything successful and that the mediators have been "out-maneuvered" by the Liberian Chief Executive, as evidenced by what he termed President Taylor's continuous inconsistency and anti-peace statements.

Contrary to Mr. Dahn's views, other conferees have spoken of the talks as a window of opportunities to interact face to face with the belligerents, know their reasons as well as giving them a true picture relative to the plight of the Liberian people.

One of the delegates said any attempt to discredit the efforts of the mediators is a preamble of "ingratitude" and a clever reposition to undermine the attainment of peace to the country.

Commenting on the growing controversial issue of whether or not the conference appeals to the UN-backed War Crimes Court to drop its charges against the president as a way of fostering the Liberian peace process, Dr. Marcus Dahn stands opposed to this view, noting that the political parties or the conference were not the ones that indicted him, and as such, he should face the charges and exonerate himself.

He expressed his support for the indictment and thrashed the views that were beclouding the current peace process.