Washington DC - The US Senate this week passed a resolution reaffirming the United States-Liberia partnership and calling for free, fair, and peaceful elections in the October presidential elections.
At the same time, the Senate resolved to condemn any external interference in the election, including any communication or action by former armed faction leader and convicted warlord Charles Taylor to influence the elections from prison.
The Senate’s concern about Taylor’s interference with Liberia’s election arose of comments from his ex-wife, Jewel Howard Taylor, who is also the vice standard bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change, that she would bring Taylor’s agenda back on the table if CDC is elected to political power.
The National Patriotic Party (NPP) a political party formed by the ex-president but now headed by his ex-wife formed a coalition with the Congress for Democratic Change of soccer legend George Weah and the Liberia’s People Democratic Party (LPDP) of ousted Speaker J. Alex Tyler.
In an interview while campaigning in Saclepea, Nimba County recently, Senator Taylor, though intimating that her ex-husband is not involved in Liberian politics, said her agenda is to put the agenda set by former President Taylor back on the table.
“Former President Taylor is not involved in Liberian politics, but I believe the NPP he created is a grass root party that made promises to its citizens since 1997. Because of what happened in our government and the abrupt closure and arrest of President Taylor, we were not able to fulfill those promises; but the NPP is now strong and so we want to call upon all the NPP stalwarts across the length and breadth of Liberia to come on board and help us win these elections, we’ll put that agenda back on the table,” she said.
Several confidants of former President Taylor hold key positions with the new CDC.
There have also been several media reports that Senator Weah has been hold telephone conversations with ex-president Taylor.
The US-Liberia Partnership Resolution
The resolution encourages President Donald Trump to appoint an Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs to bolster diplomatic engagement with the Government of Liberia, electoral stakeholders, and civil society and robustly engage with other sub-Saharan African countries.
It called on the United States Government and international partners, especially election-focused nongovernmental organizations, to continue to support successful elections and Liberia’s anticipated historic democratic post-electoral transition of executive power.
According to the resolution, the Senate will uphold its commitment to maintaining and fostering the enduring relationship between the people and the Governments of the United States and Liberia as it commended President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for efforts to consolidate post-conflict peacebuilding and democratic gains while promoting social and economic development, and fostering ties with the international community.
The Senate also paid homage to the Liberian president’s work in the advancement of international gender equality and urged the government and people of Liberia and all of the country’s political parties to hold free, fair, credible, and peaceful elections in October 2017 and in the future.
The Resolution noted: “Whereas the United States and Liberia share broad and deep bilateral ties over the course of a nearly 200-year relationship; Whereas the United States established diplomatic relations with Liberia in 1864; Whereas it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of Liberians died in the country’s two interconnected civil wars from 1989 to 2003 and many more fled as refugees; Whereas today the United States is home to an estimated 80,000 people of Liberian ancestry in vibrant communities across the country, many of whom sought refuge from the violence during the civil wars.”
Recalling a deep and abiding interest in Liberia’s democratic stability and post-conflict development, the Senate resolution noted that United States has assisted Liberia since the end of its second civil war in 2003 with major support to post-conflict recovery and a subsequent sustained transition toward broad-based economic growth and improved access to high- quality education, health system strengthening, enhanced socioeconomic welfare for the people of Liberia.
The resolution acknowledged the professionalization of the country’s military and civilian security forces and efforts made to foster the capacities, accountability, and transparency of government institutions, and the consolidation of participatory democracy.
The US Senate resolved that in keeping with the objectives set out in the Ganta and Farmington River Declarations to promote and ensure peaceful conduct among candidates, their supporters, and Liberian citizens generally, Liberia will ensure that there is robust civic education and electoral campaign outreach to often politically marginalized groups, including women, urban youth, and rural communities that would raise awareness of and express zero tolerance for violence against women, gender discrimination, or social bias of any nature in the electoral process.
The Senate resolved to support efforts by the Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development to assist in election preparations and called on Liberian citizens to fully participate in the general elections and to pursue legal avenues 19 to resolve any disputes over the results and encourages Liberian civil society organizations to intensify civic and voter education, particularly among women, youth, and rural communities, and in local languages.