Political Parties Split Over Taylor's Indictment

By Moses M. Zangar, Jr.
Akosombo, Ghana

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

June 12, 2003

Intense controversy is said to be brewing amongst Liberia's 18 political parties attending the ongoing peace negotiations aimed at putting to an the spiral of violence that has engulfed the country. The division comes amidst efforts by peace mediators to secure a cease-fire and quell the carnage that continues to ravaged the country.

The indictment of President Charles Taylor as a war criminal by the UN backed War Crimes Tribunal in Seirra Leone is the issue of contention that has result into a division among political parties at the talks.

Moreover, there is a split among the parties over whether or not they should appeal to the Tribunal through the United Nations Security Council to withdraw the criminal indictment against the Liberian leader in a bid to expedite President Taylor's decision to step aside.

Few of the political parties hold the view that dropping the charges against him would help form the basis for resolving the Liberian civil melee.

The All Liberian Coalition Party( ALCOP), the "grand old" True Whig Party(TWP), Taylor's National Patriotic Party(NPP) and the National Democratic Party of Liberia(NDPL), among few others are the parties opting for the withdrawal of the criminal indictment against President Taylor by the Court.

Conversely, more than nine of the political parties have stood diametrically opposed to the view that the Court withdraws its indictment against the Liberian Chief Executive. They contended that the issue was more legal in nature and beyond the jurisdiction of the political parties.

The Liberia Unification Party (LUP), Unity Party(UP), the United People's People(UPP), the National Reformation Party (NRP), the New DEAL Movement, Free Democratic Party of Liberia (FDPL), Liberia Action Party(LAP), the Liberia National Union (LINU)and the Progressive Party (PPP) are parties that have differed with others over the issue of appealing for a withdrawal of the charges against President Charles Taylor.

According to sources, the parties failed to reach a decision Tuesday, mainly over what is now seem as a controversial issue.

However, despite their disparity, they agreed over a number of issues including securing an immediate cessation of hostilities and requesting humanitarian assistance from the international community to help ease what is now considered as a growing humanitarian catastrophe in the country owing to renewed military aggression between the Government and the LURD rebels in the capital, Monrovia.

The humanitarian crises coupled with a significant lost of lives and possessions occasioned by continuous fighting are extend to which Liberia has been embroiled in a conflict of cataclysmic proportions.

Also, the political parties unanimously agreed upon the issue of forming a transitional arrangement to be determined by the peace talks in Akosombo.

Already, anonymous leaflets have begun flying around the conference hall. According to the leaflets, the 18 political parties have reached a consensus to appeal to the UN Security Council to withdraw the criminal indictment against President Taylor.

But parties at variant with this decision, especially as contained in the leaflets, have described the information as a "distortion" and an act concocted by the ruling National Patriotic Party and its "surrogate" parties to confuse the Liberian people. "The NPP is capable of doing that," one opposition member intimated.

But delegates of the NPP have Denied any involvement in the act.

Both groups have issued contrary statements, condemning the indictment of Mr. Taylor while the other has called on him to expedite his earlier decision to step aside in the interest of the Liberian people.

Mr. Charles Taylor has already been indicted by the War Crimes Tribunal in Sierra Leone for his alleged complicity in that country's decade-long civil war. A claim he had consistently denied.

Meanwhile, the mediators and representatives of the Government and dissident factions are currently meeting in the Conference Hall of the Volta Hotel, working out the details of signing a formal cease-fire in Akosombo today or Friday.