Liberia’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Professor Al-Hassan Conteh, has made a brief presentation on the ‘Presidential Emergence Pattern in Liberia from War to Peace.’ The Liberian envoy, according to a dispatch from the Liberian Embassy in Abuja, made the presentation during the 2017 Annual Nelson Mandela International Roundtable on Political Development in Africa that was held recently in Abuja, Nigeria.
The event, organized by the Save Democracy Group Africa and The Nelson Mandela Foundation, focused on “Presidential Emergence Patterns, Political Conflicts and Peace Building Options” as this year’s theme. Amb. Conteh noted that the theme was a fitting tribute to Nelson Mandela, who was not only an international democracy icon, but also the pace setter of a single term limit as President of South Africa.
Conteh remarked that Liberia’s emergence from conflict to peace building, leading to a presidential re-emergence system, lasted for more than a decade after five different interim governments from 1990 to 2006. “The situation undulated from war to a situation of no-war-no-peace, and to post conflict democratic elections. Five interim governments evolved with differing presidential patterns between 1990 and 2006. Besides the Interim Government of National Unity, which had a President and Vice President, the subsequent Heads of State shared power with the warring factions,” he said.
The event was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, as well as current and past officials of the Nigerian Government. Amb. Conteh told the audience during the roundtable discussion that Liberia’s first post-conflict election that took place in 1997 was widely interpreted as a ‘vote for peace’; it was won by former President Charles G. Taylor. Conteh observed that most Liberians and key external mediators concluded that there would be no peace in Liberia without the election of Mr. Taylor: “And that perception, among other endogenous political factors, saw the emergence of Mr. Taylor as President of Liberia.”
Conteh said the subsequent failure of democracy and lack of sustainable peace-building caused the war to resume in 1999 and last until 2003, when Mr. Taylor was given asylum in Nigeria. He observed that thereafter, the processes that led to the re-emergence of Liberia’s presidential system was based on a process of conscious capacity development, with peace-building options based on an interest-based negotiated settlement that would in turn facilitate democracy.
The Liberian envoy said besides the legacy of peace and stability, the success of the Sirleaf administration will be measured in terms of the success of the third post conflict election this October that will see the emergence of her successor as President of Liberia.