A Joint Position Statement Issued by Representatives of Political Parties
Statement of the Liberian political parties position arising from the recently held conference sponsored by the Movement for Democratic Change in Liberia in collaboration with the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas and the Ralph Bunche Center for International Affairs in College Park, Maryland on Friday, February 28, 2003.
We, the leaders and representatives of Liberian People's Party (LPP), Committee for the Merger of Political Parties (CMPP), Liberia Unification Party (LUP), Unity Party (UP), True Whig Party (TWP) and New Deal Alternative for Liberia Movement (NEW DEAL), having assembled and deliberated at a forum organized by the Movement for Democratic Change in Liberia (MDCL) in collaboration with the Association of Liberian Journalists in Americas (ALJA) and the Ralph Bunche Center for International Affairs at Howard University; cognizant of our role as the primary stakeholders in the political process in Liberia and the fulfillment of our moral obligation to strengthen democracy in Liberia; hereby present our respective positions on the following issues germane to the elections expected to be held in Liberia in October, 2003 to create an enabling environment to ensure that the elections are free and fair without any intimidation and harassment of candidates and electorates:
Ten-Year Clause: We, the representatives of the Liberia's People Party (LPP), Committee for the Merger of Political Parties (CMPP), (which represents six political parties, including Progressive People's Party, All-Liberian Coalition Party, Free Democratic Party, Reformation Alliance Party, People's Democratic Party of Liberia and Liberia National Union), Unity Party (UP), and the Liberia Unification Party (LUP), realizing that Liberian Judiciary will be unfair in the dispensing of justice and to efficiently interpret the Constitution and administer the rule of law without the influence of the Executive Branch of Government headed by President Charles Taylor; and in view of the impact of the inability of the Judiciary to legally resolve disagreements among political parties over the Constitutional issue of the Ten-Year Clause, resolved that the Provision of the Constitution regarding the Ten-year Clause be repealed or suspended before the elections to create an opportunity for every candidate to contest the elections and the decision to select our political leaders be the sole prerogative of the Liberian people without the ten-year residency requirement. The representatives of the True Whig Party (TWP) and the New Deal Movement, considering that the Ten Year Clause is a constitutional provision and should be adhered to by every political and civic institutions, resolved that the decision to uphold the provision of ten-year clause as a requirement for candidates to contest the elections should be decided by the Judiciary, if the political parties disagree.
STABILIZATION FORCE: The representatives of the Committee of the Merger of Political Parties (CMPP), Liberia’s People Parties (LPP), Unity Party (UP), Liberia Unification Party (LUP) and New Deal Movement, considering that the prevailing security conditions in Liberia with the armed aggression between the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and the Government of Liberia will prevent equal access to various regions of the country to contesting political parties and create a state of fear among the electorates, resolved that an international Stabilization Force be allowed in Liberia to create a conducive security environment for the conduct of elections without the intimidation and harassment of candidates and voters. The representatives of the True Whig Party, while in agreement with the other political parties for an intervention force to allay the fears of some people by supervising security during the elections, however, proposed that a contingent of military officers either from the United States or Great Britain be dispatched to Liberia to upgrade a force of 2,000 men, comprising primarily of Liberians to be trained by the foreign troops. The Twp believes that what we need is a capacity building exercise and not an intervention force.
CENSUS: The representatives of the Committee for the Merger of Political Parties (CMPP), Liberia's People Parties (LPP), Unity Party (UP), Liberia Unification Party (LUP) and the New Deal Movement, realizing that the conduct of census is a constitutional provision requires to determine the demarcation of constituencies for sub- political representation in the Legislature and the exact number of electorates, resolved that census should be conducted before the elections, but CMPP noted that if the environment is not conducive for such exercise, the provision of the constitution, covering the conduct of census should be repealed or suspended in accordance with the provision of the Constitution of Liberia. Whereas, the representatives of the True Whig Party (TWP), while flexible in its position on this matter, insists that this is not a constitutional provision that cannot be clarified by the Elections Commissions (ECOM) of Liberia.
COMPOSITION OF ELECTIONS COMMISSION: We, the representatives of the Committee for the Merger of Political Parties (CMPP), Liberia's People's Party (LPP), Unity Party (UP), Liberia Unification Party (LUP), and New Deal Movement, considering that members of the present Elections Commission in Liberia are card-carrying members of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) of Liberia and due to the lack of trust by opposition parties in the ability of the ECOM to perform its role without bias and favoritism towards the ruling party (NPP), unequivocally resolved that the present Elections Commission in Liberia be recomposed to include other credible Liberians selected from a shortlist of individuals suggested by various political parties in order to ensure the independence of the ECOM. The TWP representative notes that the Elections Commission has already being increased to seven members. This is a concession to the opposition parties and seem should be accepted in order to move the political process forward.
ALLIANCE OR MERGER: We, the representatives of the Committee for the Merger of Political Parties (CMPP), Liberia's People Party (LPP), Unity Party (UP), Liberia Unification Party (LUP), New Deal Movement and True Whig Party (TWP), while we agreed that the purpose of our existence is to seek public office through political means, we however respect and accept our diverse opinions on the issue of merger and alliance, considering that our political orientations are inherent in our respective philosophies and values. The TWP and Unity Party proposed that political parties should encourage merger based on the similarities of ideas, while the CMPP supports merger but does not support the concept of a single candidate to challenge the incumbent President, Charles Taylor. The Liberia's People Party notes that its is willing to engage credible parties in the discussion of merger, while the NEW DEAL is oppose to merger with other parties because the party's philosophy and values differ fundamentally from other existing political parties. However, the NEW DEAL supports the creation of civic coalition, comprising political parties and civic groups (i.e. the Liberia Leadership Forum and the Liberia Leadership Conference) to galvanize their resources and ensure that the results of the elections reflect the ultimate decision of the Liberian people.
The Conference Secretariat