Warring Parties Failed To Select Transitional Leaders


By Moses M. Zangar, Jr.
Accra. Ghana

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 20, 2003

Despite several hours of brainstorming over who heads Liberia’s transitional administration, contenders in the Liberian armed conflict on Monday failed to select the chairman and vice chairman of the National Transitional Government. Consequently, many Liberians, mostly refugees who had thronged the M-Plaza Hotel in anticipation of celebrating the new leadership, went home with disappointment and frowned faces.

The selection of a transitional arrangement is expected to culminate into the end of nearly three months of negotiations among Liberian stakeholders in Ghana as well as quelling decades of tribal feuds and the whirlwind of carnage and bloodletting in the country.

Already, representatives of the 18 political parties and civil society organizations have jointly nominated three names each for the positions of Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively. Unity Party’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Gyude Bryant of the Liberia Action Party and Cllr. Rudolph Sherman of the True Whig Party have been nominated by the political parties and civil society organizations for the chairmanship of the interim government. Wesley Momo Johnson of the United People’s Party, J. Hoodo Marriam of the National Democratic Party of Liberia and Free Democratic Party’s Saah Ciapha Gbollie are nominees for the position of vice chairman.

According to the comprehensive peace deal for Liberia, parties to the June 17 cease-fire agreement, the Government, LURD and MODEL should have, after due consideration and by consensus, selected one person each out of the two categories of nominees who should have been declared chairman and vice chairman of the transitional administration.

But the long hours of meeting among the belligerents on Monday did not produce the much-needed results. Instead, they have, according to sources, asked for “time” to deliberate on the nominees and make their selection for both offices.

Accordingly, the warring parties needed time to ex-ray the nominees and communicate with their fighters on the field to accept whoever is selected for either of the positions.

However, our sources said they were expected to have done their cross-examination of nominees for the two categories Wednesday night. The results of successful nominees for the positions are expected to be announced by the Mediator, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar at 6AM on Thursday.

Political analysts here are of the view that the process is unpredictable and that it is anybody’s guess as to who emerges as the chairman or vice chairman.

At the same time, protests filed by two candidates for position of Chairman, Alhaji G.V. Kromah of the All Liberian Coalition Party and former Vice President Harry F. Moniba of the Liberia National Union have reportedly been thrashed on grounds that they were not accredited delegates or observers.

Both men had wanted a re-run of the election, alleging that the election commission denied them the right to vote because they were not registered delegates and observers but at the same time allowed others in this category
to cast their ballots. The election commission has since denied the allegation, citing Article 25 of the comprehensive peace agreement that gives only accredited delegates and observers the right to vote.