Statement By The Secretary General Of The New Deal Movement
August 15, 2002
Statement By The Secretary General Of The New Deal Movement
Comrade J. Kerkula Foeday
On The Occasion Marking The Final Certification And Accreditation
New Democratic Alternative For Liberia Movement
( The New Deal Movement)
As A Full Fledged, Legal Political Party Within The Republic Of Liberia,
Headquarters Of The Elections Commission Of The Republic Of Liberia (Ecom)
JULY 23, 2002
17th Street, Sinkor
The Chairman of the Elections Commission (ECOM), Hon. Paul N. Guah; the Co-Chairman and other Commissioners of ECOM, Representatives of other political parties present; distinguished Executives, Stalwarts, and gallant partisans of The New DEAL Movement, fellow Compatriots, gallant men and women of the Fourth Estate present, Representatives of Civil Society, including the Human Rights Community, Students, Workers and Religious Leaders present, Comrades:
A new day has dawned in Liberia; The First Social Democratic Party in the History of the Republic of Liberia has been born, The First and only party of the 21st Century destined by history and ordained by God to champion the cause and direct the struggle for the final and complete emancipation of the down- trodden people of Liberia from the ills of the policy of constant national neglect and betrayal on the part of successive political parties and regimes, has challenged and defied all obstacles and has finally appeared on the national scene.
The New DEAL Movement, after a tedious, protracted and challenging period (of about three years) of party formation, has today finally acquired its full status as a full fledged, political party. We are grateful to God and the people of Liberia for standing by us as we struggled to reach this day.
On this historic occasion of Certification, Comrade Hawa M. Arku, a founding member, an Executive and a distinguished partisan, who fought shoulder to shoulder unsweavingly with other party stalwarts for the attainment of the legal status of our party, barely two weeks to the realization of this historic goal, died and is conspicuously absent amongst us. On this occasion of joy, we are saddened by the untimely death of Comrade Partisan Arku. We contend that comrade Arku’s death is evidently war-related and a direct consequence of the lack of improved, adequate basic social services for the people of Liberia - including medical facilities. Like comrade Arku, hundreds of fellow Liberians are dying on a daily basis throughout the Country because of the aforesaid reasons. The New DEAL Movement vows to fight this ugly situation in Liberia.
Meanwhile, we call on all New DEALERS, the family members, love ones and friends of Comrade Arku to take courage and not to mourn but be determined to fight for a better Liberia for our people. I now call on the audience to kindly rise and give a silent moment of tribute to the late Chair on Socio- Cultural Affairs of The New DEAL Movement.
Ladies and gentlemen, permit me to bore you a little with a brief history of the formation process of our beloved Party.
After more than a year of intense consultations between and amongst like-minded and
well-meaning Liberians both at home and abroad, who saw the need for a democratic alternative for Liberia, the organizers of this great Party agreed to form a new political formation and on June 5, 1999 this new formation was formally proclaimed at the Law Library on Ashmun Street in Monrovia. Six (6)months after that, as per the mandate contained in the proclamation statement, the
Movement convened its first founding congress at the close of the 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st Century respectively (precisely from December 30th 1999 to January 3rd, 2000) under the theme: “The Two Century Congress - A New Agenda for a New Liberia”.
The Two Century Congress, among other things, mandated the Organizing Committee to immediately proceed with the task of registering the New DEAL Movement as a full fledged, political entity to enable the Party participate in political activities with the aim of capturing state power and embark on the herculean task of the democratic reconstruction of the Liberian State and the entire socio-economic and political system which, having miserably failed the people of Liberia and subsequently disintegrated, now experiences lawlessness, international isolation and humiliation.
On March 20, 2000, the Organizing Committee of the Movement, after having submitted a formal application to ECOM (along with its constitution and by-laws as well as its Articles of Incorporation), received a Certificate of Authorization from ECOM, authorizing the Organizing Committee to move throughout the country to canvass for at least five hundred registered voters from at least six of the political sub-divisions of the Republic of Liberia as part of the requirement for registration.
One and half years after that, on September 3, 2001, the Movement submitted to ECOM for verification a list of over three thousand registered voters from the Counties of Montserrado, Margibi, Grand Bassa, Sinoe, Nimba and Grand Gedeh. The ECOM, accordingly, took more than six months to screen and verify the Partisan list of the Movement. However, on March 21, 2002, the Movement received formal authorization for the publication of the list.
Fellow Compatriots, in the face of the threat of war, fear, intimidation, and the general state of inassessability of the entire Country due to bad roads and the lack of effective communication, we, with matchless determination and commitment to a cause we so dearly believe in, quietly but very effectively unleashed The Movement on the rural masses. Of course, we must admit that the process was challenging, difficult, pain-pricking and in many instances frustrating; equally so, the process was filled with rich experiences. In some instances, our detractors, some of whom had direct access to and influence over state security, used scare tactics to intimidate our cadets. In other instances, local authorities seized our membership forms, resources and other Party documents and even incarcerated Party Cadets. As I speak to you now, one of our Partisans from Maryland County, the Chairman on Committee on Education and Research, Comrade Andrew Gbloteah Colley, has been called and is being interrogated on a frivolous charged of “illegal mobilization”. We condemn this act of harassment and intimidation of peaceful citizens by security forces. The Party will take appropriate action to ensure the safety of its Partisans not only in Maryland County but the entire country at large.
Similarly, still on the unwholesome experiences encountered by us during the registration process, on numerous other occasions, opportunists and state related agents, masquerading as supporters of our ideals, infiltrated our ranks and squandered party funds intended for work. Some of these harsh experiences led to temporary setbacks and delays.
Some instances of the aforesaid include the following; for example, on March 17, 2000, the Headquarters of our party was attacked at night by men in state security uniforms, who forcibly removed the signboard of the Party. Furthermore, in early April 2000, following the Founding Congress of the Movement, authorities of the state sent two emissaries to meet with the founding Chairman of our party with a message that the NPP-led Government was “watching The New DEAL Movement with many eyes”. That meeting was held at the then Connie Restaurant opposite the YMCA Headquarters on Broad Street. On another occasion, on May 6, 2001, a consignment of T-shirts bearing the Party official emblem and flag, brought into the Country legally by Party Officials, was seized by state security agents at the Roberts International Airport and subsequently turned over to the National Security Agency (NSA). Moreover, on several occasions, certain NPP Officials in Government concocted stories and branded us as “dissident collaborators”. One of the latest harassment incidents was the illegal arrest and subsequent detention of Comrade Nigba Wiaplah, the Vice Chairman for National Affairs and Acting National Chairman of the New DEAL Movement. Comrade Wiapleh was arrested on March 27, 2002, a day after the publication of the Partisan list of the Movement, striped of his personal effects and thrown behind bars of the Liberia National Police Headquarters, where he was detained without any charge.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in face of these acts of intimidation, clamp down and provocation, we persevered, remained undaunted and resolute. We meanwhile challenged the system peacefully within the confines of the law and did not allow the Party to be prematurely drawn into violence and confrontation.
Distinguished compatriots, in the process of registering our Party as a legal entity, we even had our share of struggle with ECOM. Initially, on the proclamation of the Movement in June 1999, ECOM rushed to call us a “bogus party”. In January 2001, ECOM attempted to revoke our Certificate of Authorization in the wake of the Movement’s stance on recommendations by the United Nations Panel of Experts, for the imposition of Sanction on the Taylor regime.
Notwithstanding all attempts to blackmail our party and bully the Movement into submission, we made our position known and felt on many critical issues of National Concerns. For example:
1. The Ongoing War in Liberia. We initially and have always condemned the ongoing war, which started in Lofa and has now engulfed a larger part of the Country. We blamed the two belligerent forces (the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy-LURD and the Government of Liberia) for the ongoing hostilities in Liberia and the attendant suffering of the Liberian people. We maintain our position that the failure of the NPP-led Government to strictly adhere to the Abuja Accord ( which laid the basis on which the NPP-led Government came to power) has created the pretext that the LURD now exploits to make war. In spite of whatever maybe LURD’s political grievances, historically, as an institution, LURD has no records of having politically and legally engaged the NPP-led government, the denial of which could provide justification for subsequent action. Additionally, by its current military campaign, LURD has created conditions for the militarization of the Country, placed a logjam in the democratization process, and increased the impoverishment of the Liberian people. Furthermore, the ongoing war is now being used as an excuse for the failure of the NPP-led government to deliver on its promises and provide basic social services to the Liberian people.
2. The question of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of Sierra Leone. We were the first as a political party to have called on the Liberian Government to sever all links with the RUF and declare them persona non grata, as it was contradictory to see a government that boasted of being democratically elected, to be seen doing business with a dissident group violently fighting to overthrow another democratically elected government in a sisterly Country. That position was established in May 2000. Moreover, we were the first and only Party in Liberia to have condemned the taking of five hundred United Nations Peacekeepers in Sierra Leone as hostages by the RUF. We maintained at the time that hostage taking was an act of terrorism and that the release of the U.N. Peacekeepers on the influence of Mr. Taylor did not warrant any praise; instead, we maintained that the act of hostage taking be condemned in its entirety.
3. National Reconciliation. We, in the spirit of genuine national reconciliation, were the first political force on the ground to have initiated the call for the unconditional release of all political prisoners in Liberia, including the thirteen (13) political convicts imprisoned after the September 18, 1998 Camp Johnson Road incident in Monrovia. Similarly, we called for the restructuring of the National Reconciliation Commission, most especially to be composed by persons of non-factional and non-partisan loyalty. That position was also made on August 17, 2000.
Ladies and gentlemen, today as we receive our status as a full fledged Party, we maintain that genuine peace will only return to Liberia and free, fair and transparent democratic elections be possible with the attainment of the following:
1. The immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities by both the Government of Liberia and the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD);
The cessation of hostilities by the two belligerent parties should be followed by dialogue among all stakeholders in the national leadership crisis of Liberia, including the National Patriotic Party (NPP)- led Government and the LURD, all political party representatives, and civil society organizations in and out of the Country. Against this background, the New DEAL Movement welcomes the outcomes of both the Washington and Ouagadougou conferences respectively.
Specifically, the New DEAL supports the call for the creation and immediate intervention of an international stabilization force in Liberia for the purpose of disarming all armed groups in Liberia without any exception, providing security for all Liberians, and creating a secured environment for the holding of free, fair and transparent democratic elections in Liberia.
2. The resettlement of all internally displaced Liberians. The current hostilities in Liberia have uprooted and dislocated the citizens of Liberia, particularly those of the counties of Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Bong, Lofa and Gbapolou. If free, fair and democratic elections are to be held in keeping with the Constitution of Liberia, there must be a resettlement of our people who are fleeing from war, to their respective Counties.
3. Unconditional lifting of the current State of Emergency and ban on public gathering. We call for the unconditional lifting of the current state of emergency and ban placed on public gatherings by political parties imposed by the regime. These undemocratic measures of the NPP-led Government are machination intended to give the NPP-led government an added leverage over opposing political forces for the impending 2003 General Presidential and legislative elections. The holding of the pending July Reconciliation Conference by the Government of Liberia in face of the current state of emergency and the ban placed on public gatherings by political parties, not only questions the sincerity of the Government for genuine reconciliation, but makes the entire undertaking contradictory and laughable.
The New DEAL Movement takes cognizance of and support received by the Party in the process leading to the attainment of a full-fledged political party status and wishes to extend a note of gratitude to the following communities:
C The print and electronic media, specifically The News Newspaper, The Inquirer, The Analyst Newspaper, as well as DC-101 and Radio Veritas;
C The entire Human Rights Community; and the
C Civil Society, including the student and worker movements and the religious community.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, The New DEAL Movement is committed to working with all genuine democratic forces in and out of Liberia for the resolution of the Liberian crisis, as evident by our party’s participation in and support of the recent Washington and Ouagadougou Conferences held by both exiled Liberians as well as those inside the country. Moreover, as a political entity and an antithesis of the past, moving into the future, we shall serve as a bridge between the positive attributes of the past and present. In this regard, we shall work with all forward-looking and well-meaning democratic forces and principle-minded Liberians, including the elderly and the young, women and children, the disabled, the rural and urban masses.
Meanwhile, we recognize the plight of our young people as ex-combatants, who have been used as cannon fodders by political manipulators in their unquenchable greed for material wealth at the expense of the nation and its children. We call on our unfortunate brothers and sisters currently in arms to take cognizance of the fact that their future does not lie in war, but in education, education and education.
We like to assure the people of Liberia that the New DEAL is here to make a difference. We should emphasize here that we who make up this new social democratic order in Liberia are determined never to betray our common patrimony; we vow to give the best of ourselves to our people and nation until final victory.
Finally, we like to thank the ECOM for all the institutional cooperation, leading to the final registration of the New DEAL Movement as a full-fledged political party.
We also like to salute all the gallant men and women at home and in the diaspora, particularly our committed partisans of the USA and Ghana Chapters, as well as all our Party Chapters, branches and cells throughout the Country, including those in displaced centers, who stood firmly and tirelessly to ensure the final registration of our dear Party. In my capacity, as Secretary General of The New DEAL Movement, I now seize this opportunity to officially announce and present to you your Party, the Liberian people party, the party of the masses, the party that will stand to defend all Liberians, irrespective of class, sex, tribe, religion, and region. I challenge you to take it and unleash it on the nation.
LONG LIVE THE NEW DEAL MOVEMENT, LONG LIVE THE PEOPLE OF LIBERIA, LIBERIA FIRST, GOD BLESS, NOTHING LESS LIBERIA FIRST!
I THANK YOU!