US Advances Framework For Peace In Liberia

-LURD, MODEL Hope Dashed

By Moses M. Zangar, Jr.
Accra, Ghana

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

July 17, 2003

Representatives of the United States at the ongoing Liberian peace talks in Ghana have advanced a document appearing to be a roadmap for a political settlement of the long-running fratricidal civil conflict in the country. Moreover, the proposal comes barely a day to the expiration of the deadline required by the June 17 truce which among other things, called for the formation of an interim administration to replace President Charles Taylor and his government.

The US, in a proposal issued Wednesday (July 16), call “National Transitional Government of Liberia(NTGL).”

The primary responsibility of the government would be to ensure the scrupulous implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement including the provisions of the cease-fire agreement, promotion of reconciliation to engender the restoration of peace and stability to the country and its people.

Additionally, the NTGL will enunciate political programs in the peace agreement and participate in the preparation and conduct of internationally organized and supervised elections not later than October 2004 for the inauguration of an elected government on January 4, 2005.

The transitional administration is expected to be sworn in and assume its duties on August 2 this year.

In accordance with its mandate, It is expected to act in conformity with the Liberian Constitution and its president and cabinet, with officeholders would be approved by parties to the peace conference in Ghana. The structure of the NTGL will be in line with the Constitution of Liberia – the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government.

Moreover, the document prohibits the chairmen of the two rebel groups – LURD and MODEL from becoming president, vice president and cabinet members in the transitional arrangement. However, they are eligible to contest future elections in accordance with the Constitution of Liberia.

The US wants the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other international institutions assign recognized international experts to direct and monitor the functions of the government after it is seated.

The statement makes specific mention of the ministries of Justice, Defense, Finance and Economic Development, Foreign Affairs, Public Works, Agriculture, Education and Health as well as the Bureau of Maritime Affairs as government functionaries to be monitored and directed.

On the issue of elections in Liberia, the US proposal calls for an internationally organized and supervised election no later than October 2004.

The statement has bee greeted with mixed reactions. Some Liberians here in Accra welcome the position of the US delegation to the talks and hope that parties will accept the terms of the proposed framework while others referred to it as "providing too much limitations."

The head of Liberian government to the talks, Lewis Brown, held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to react to the US position statement.

Mr. Brown described the US' proposal for peace in Liberia as useful and constructive. He said it suggests a better framework for peace in Liberia.

"We are prepared to work with the framework..., except for some minor changes that will suit the Constitution of Liberia”.
Mr. Brown did not however mention the minor changes that are needed to be made but said the government will be making its comments to the facilitators.

Mediators at the talks are expected to present to delegates the US proposal, which could serve as the basis for fashioning a comprehensive peace agreement for Liberia.

Analysts say the latest position of the US delegation to the talks suggests the delay by Liberian parties to reach a document intended to end four years of a rebel war.

They said the prohibition of the belligerents from occupying key positions in the government limits their ambitions to ascend to state power and could avert and discourage further attempts to increase the number of factions for political gains.