Govt, Opposition Meeting Ends in Deadlock?

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Partial view of participants at the Government-Political Parties Consultative Forum

-Opposition can only work with an agenda, says LP Political Leader

The inability of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) to put forth a national development agenda since its ascendancy may have contributed significantly to stalled progress at a meeting meant to solicit inputs from major political actors on moving the country forward.

The meeting, held in Monrovia on Thursday, was aimed at advancing ideas that promote the spirit of national unity and political tolerance between opposition political parties and the Liberian government.

But the political leader of major opposition Liberty Party (LP), Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, said the conference, convened by President George Manneh Weah, did not yield the intended results because there was no agenda upon which deliberations were to be made. “We can only make contribution or input when there is an agenda, but the government does not have any,” she told reporters minutes after emerging from the meeting that was held behind closed doors.

The Senator said that when an agenda is crafted, the opposition can scrutinized such an agenda and make some contribution. “But there was no agenda presented, so hopefully we look forward to a national development instrument that this government would come out with, in which the opposition can make input to move our country forward,” she noted.

With nothing substantive available upon which deliberations could be made, Senator Karnga-Lawrence noted, means that the government is rather soliciting assistance from the opposition to do what it[government] is supposed to do in leading the country.

“With no agenda available at this meeting, what the government is doing, in other words, is asking the opposition community to help prepare an agenda that they could work with to move this country forward,” she said, adding: “But this is something that political parties, especially those that are in the tripartite arrangement, have to talk about in the leadership and executive committees’ meetings.”

ANC, LP and UP went to the meeting as a team and, according to the LP political leader, they have to do a lot of consultations. “We have to meet with our executive committee members to see how we can respond to this call.

“I think the best way to move forward is for the government to present an agenda to the opposition then we can now move forward to scrutinize and make recommendations where necessary, but we cannot be the ones doing their jobs. This is what they said they could do and for which they were overwhelmingly elected. So they must do it. We can only make input to what they will develop as opposition,” she said.

It can be recalled that Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah said during his oration marking the celebration of the nation’s 171st Independence Day, that the government “would, in the next several weeks, launch its national development agenda—the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development”.

At the time, he noted that all stakeholders were making their final input into the plan, which provides the roadmap for addressing Liberia’s long-term economic problems. This was after the initial time frame provided by the minister at a forum in the US had elapsed.

But in a new twist,  and in a very brief opening statement, President Weah said the meeting was called to listen to all political actors of this country and how they can help in the forward march of the country

“We have been in office for five months. We have been doing our best. Some may have been negative while some positive. So we have called you here to hear from you on how we all can move our country forward,” the President said.

In reaction to the President’s welcome statement, the head of the Unity Party delegation  and vice chairman for Inter-Party Affairs, Cole Bangalu,  noted that he does not see the meeting as one soliciting incorporation of the opposition into the  ruling party. “The opposition community remains the opposition; we will always support the development of this country. We remain where we are. We oppose when there is a need to oppose and we have been doing that constructively,” he declared.

We have been checkmating to ensure that the right thing is done so that this country can remain peaceful and move in the right direction.

There are a lot of issues that the opposition have been flagging ranging from the economy, rule of law, governance and security. “We have catalogued these things before under the collaborating parties which we put into a document that was presented to this administration.

Bangalu noted that the President has asked that that document be resubmitted to his office.  “So we are going to resubmit that document to the President,” he said.

ALP to Lead War Crimes Court Campaign

The night prior to the highly anticipated meeting, social media was inundated with calls for the opposition to highlight issues concerning the establishment of a war crimes court to bring perpetrators of atrocities to justice. Many posts and comments noted that the Thursday meeting would be a fiasco if it did not reach a consensus on the establishment of a war crimes court for Liberia.

The political leader of the All Liberia Party (ALP), Benoni Urey, may not have disappointed those war crimes court campaigners as he has pledged to lead a campaign to ensure that the court is established here.

Urey said he told the President that the court must be established so that those who are responsible for mayhem that took place across the country can answer for their actions.

“Though we have not been critical of this government, we spoke from our hearts on some issues that we have concerns about,” he said.

“The court must be established here. And I avail myself to lead that campaign,” he said.

The ALP standard bearer said former President Charles Taylor should be freed from imprisonment if the court cannot be established here. “Let them free Taylor or carry everybody to jail. “We had a war and one person did not commit all of the atrocities in this country…a lot of people did. If only one person can face justice then where are the rest”? he questioned.

Continuing, Mr. Urey said: “I hope the President took my statement positively. But this is a decision that we all Liberians, and the entire country must make. If people should go with impunity or face justice.”

Asked about his impression about the meeting, Urey noted that the message from the President was about reconciliation and the need for the opposition to come on board. “This is about moving Liberia forward,” he indicated.

This, he said, is a good beginning on the part of the President. “As I mentioned to him, it would have been better if it had happened earlier, but it is better late than never. This is a good start and we must encourage it.”

The meeting, according to CDC stalwarts, is also considered as a reconciliatory effort by  President Georg Weah. It was graced by leaders of 26 political parties including the ruling CDC.

17 COMMENTS

  1. The President opened the meeting. Opposition political parties expressed their views, as was expected. Out of more than 20 opposition political parties, the spoke person of Liberty Party spoke to the press. She expressed her concern about the absence of an agenda during the meeting. So, what is in this report to indicate a “Deadlock”? I see none.

    • Benoni Urey, there will be no war crimes court for the near future. What Liberia should focus on now is national security, and an ANTI- CORRUPTION COURT Secondly, your justification for Taylor to be set free because he is the only one in jail while others are free is weak. For Taylor is not imprison for life for any crimes he may have committed in Liberia. Taylor is in jail for life for his war crimes he comitted in Sierra Leone.

  2. If moving Liberia forward is TRULY the main focus then helping to prepare an agenda shouldn’t matter. It matters only when there is the desire to claim the advances/improvements as your own (political party). Liberia is very far behind; opportunities for the aforementioned will exist for a while.

  3. It was a leap of faith to expect breakthrough between both sides on the first formal meeting after a contentious election which reached the Supreme Court. So Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence’s position that lack, perhaps, of a development “agenda” scuttled efficacy of the meeting, sounds like pure political posturing. Because the respected Bassa County Senator knows that any development agenda of government will be contained in policy proposal billS legislators would’ve opportunities to “scrutinize” and deliberate on.

    Needless to say – before and during the 2017 elections’ campaign – despite appeals from various media outlets including Daily Observer for comprehensive manifestos from all political parties, none, except Dr. Fahnbulleh’s LPP, submitted one. Instead, there was a frenzy for an exclusive presidential debate showcasing public speaking abilities; to which he, a noted orator, was tellingly barred.

    Literally, the elephant in the room for some was jobs; and since that didn’t come up, the meeting was a disappointment. Anyway, that it even took place is a hopeful sign. Probably, the issue of jobs towards achieving some semblance of a government of national unity would be in the sought-for “agenda” next time. Meanwhile, the suffering Country-Congo majority want government and oppostion parties in the Legislature to ensure political stability, and provide equality of oppotunities for all.

  4. Did Mr. Urey miss the point concerning why President Charles Taylor is serving time in Jail? Last time I checked he was imprison for crime he was said to have committed next door; therefore, I see no connection/bearings on a War Crime Court establishment/setup in Liberia. apple and pears.

  5. Sylvester Moses, you have become very insightful with matters regarding the operation of the CDC led government. Are you a member of cdc? where you at the meeting and did the issue of job mentioned by members of the opposition or you are just being disingenuous.

  6. Klon

    A citizen need not be member of a political party to participate in the national conversation of his or her postwar fragile and fractious country; especially, someone with long time association with national security. It suggests that I would try to acquaint myself with what our media outlets publish or broadcast. And the below is an excerpt from Frontpage Africa’s version of President Weah’s meeting with Opposition parties.

    “Giving a rundown of the discussion, the Unity Party Mohammed Ali told FrontPageAfrica that the tripartite expressed concern over the appointments to government. According to them, there’s a cause for concern that majority of the appointments in government are people from the southeastern region, while Lofa County is the less considered. Some of us though they say we are tribalists, but we put to the President quite bluntly that appointments he has made, the majority of them have southeastern link – its southeastern bias. We recommended that the appointments should be regionally balanced,” he said.

    Perhaps, Klon, had you taken the time to read FPA’s perspective on the reportedly “Deadlocked” meeting, you wouldn’t have asked whether I was at the meeting to know what transpired there. In answering your question: I didn’t need to. But do everyone a favor; next time attempt a bit of home work before trying to be flippant, or whatever your purpose purpose is.

  7. The UN Recommendations should had be listed as item to discuss in the meeting.

    War crimes court is a must because there will be no lasting peace in the absence of JUSTICE.

    War and Economic vampires should not be roaming the country with impunity at the detriment of the MASSES. WARLORDS must RECONCILE with the LAWS of the Land.

    Time to end IMPUNITY-CORRUPTION in Liberia for real development.
    #Endimpunity

  8. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, designed, organized, financed, and executed the war just to selfishly become President of Liberia to steal. Weah must implement the TRC Report to bring those who brought war to Liberia that killed 250,000 Liberians and sent millions into exile to justice. Weah cannot allow himself to be seen as one protecting the perpetrators of war crimes still roaming the streets of Monrovia as is been done by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf(the Planner and Financier), Prince Johnson(the Libyan trained,Cuban trained, Guerilla,) Alhaji Kromah, Seku Damatee, George Borley, and others. The International Community is prepared to put sanctions on Liberia should Weah renege in implementing the TRC Report. The ball is in Weah’s Court. He will either have to play or refuse to play and bear the consequences. Our people who were killed by the acts of these villains will not die in vain. We call on the United Nations to put pressure on President Weah to bring these Liberian War criminals to justice or face Economic

    • While it is your right to call for a world crime court in liberia, we present generation want that narrative to change to compelling developments for your nation in every respect. War crime court called far is deliberate attempts on the part of power greed insividuals who fully supported and work with Ellen during her administration. The war crime court establishment in liberia is a recipe for chaos. It has no substance for the majorty, therefore challenge the government for balance issues that could benefit our present generation based on the available finance and resources.

  9. Reference a war crimes court, though a law enforcement advocate, I must demur for political stability in a postwar poor country. Some forget that our UN-sponsored peace settlement was “negotiated” on the promise and premise that warring factions must transform into political parties; so, instead of violence, votes would be the vehicle to gaining political power. That bargain stands, and despite my beloved mother died from a detonated artillery mortar shell fired few days earlier by rebels, I see no reason why we should renege on that “promise”.

    Standford University’s political science Professor James D. Fearson, an expert on political violence particularly interstate, civil, and ethnic conflict, noted that “just 16 percent of civil wars and insurgencies end through a negotiated peace settlement”. Fortunately, ours did and still holding while the UN and US have been unable to convince the Tabilan for an end to almost two decades of civil war killing American soldiers in Afghanistan.

    Liberians calling for a war crimes court aren’t wrong, but impractical. The Weah government should hug tightly the “realtive” peace the country is enjoying, and work towards transitioning it to lasting peace by eradicating pervasive poverty – greatest threat to national security – through implementation of the Pro-Poor policy agenda. South Africa’s perpetrators of violence during the Apartheid era were held ‘accountable’ through deliberations in palvava huts, not in courts. For heaven’s sake, folks, let’s forgo emotionalism and embrace pragmatism in the cause of our suffering Country-Congo vast majority.

    • If many have honest hears to hear, they could give you them to forget about this agenda of war crime court in Liberia. When they present their case for one to be established in liberia, we will put out our case to the world also that we don’t need one in liberia. Thanks for your well balance response Moses.

  10. War crimes court is a must, prosecution of past and present corrupt officials is a must, and on the economy; I recommend that the gold sector be nationalised and use it as our reserve to back our local currency.

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