Monrovia – Several concerned Liberians on November 13, 2017 after a successful meeting established a special peace panel to brainstorm and find solutions regarding the current political crisis in Liberia.
The panel consists of eight groups including the Traditional Council of Liberia, Liberia Crusader for Peace, National Imam Council of Liberia, the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET) and several others Civil society Organizations in the Country.
The meeting was organized by the opposition political party, Movement for Progressive Change (MPC).
Members of the special peace panel are charged with the responsibility to hold peace talks with contending parties including the Unity Party, Liberty Party, Alternative National Congress (ANC), All Liberian Party (ALP) and other parties that are also aggrieved to find a way forward in ending the political crisis.
The panel is being headed by the Liberia Crusaders for Peace and Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia - WONGOSOL followed by the Imam Council of Liberia, Traditional chiefs and Elders Council of Liberia amongst others.
Speaking during the opening of the consultative meeting, Ali Krayee, head of the National Imam Council of Liberia, said they are prepared to work with any institution that would want to harmonize the political impasse between the opposition Liberty Party and the NEC.
“We are willing to form part of any collaboration that will see this amicably reestablish the process of having election."
"You and the people of Liberia have the support of the council,” he said.
Also speaking at the meeting, WIPNET Program Coordinator for Advocacy in Liberia, Bernice Freeman called on all Liberians to respect the rule of law.
She said her group will not get involved in any negotiation talks that will encourage disrespect to the rule of law.
“We are not getting involved in calling on Brumskine to leave the court, the rule of law should be respected by all Liberians, what we can do is to join and talk peace, that is, to talk to all of the parties to please accept whatever results come from NEC or the courts,” she noted.
Madam Freeman said peace cannot be maintained without the support of all the political parties that are part of the process.
“You can make your political speeches, but don’t play with our peace. We have suffered for the peace for so long and we have to maintain it for our children’s future,” she said.
The proxy for Liberia’s Culture Ambassador Juli Endee, James Enders praised the MPC for the initiative and promised his boss support to the process.
“We from the Crusaders of Peace Headed by Madam Juli Endee is proud to be a part of such meeting that will bring peace to our land, we are will to work with any group that will preach message,” he noted.
The Acting Chairperson of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) Bartholomew Colley said the commission is in full support of the idea brought forth by the MPC political leader.
“We are in support of this and we call on all other political parties and all Liberians to join in the process in talking the peace of Liberia,” he said.
MPC’s Political leader Simeon Freeman speaking earlier said resolving the current political crisis is everybody’s business.
Freeman called on the National Imam Council of Liberia, political parties, civil society organizations and Liberia Council of Churches to intervene in the ongoing saga between the Liberty Party and the National Elections Commission for a smooth transition comes January 2018.
Mr. Freeman made the call yesterday at the Special Consultative Meeting with women groups, Independent National Human Rights Commission (INHRC), Traditional Council of Liberia, Crusaders for Peace, National Imam Council of Liberia, representatives of political parties, civil society organizations, among others.
According to Mr. Freeman, the intervention of the inter-religious council, civil society organizations, peaceful institutions and political parties would help to resolve the current political saga and move the country forward as well as protect Liberia’s peace.
Mr. Freeman said the meeting was intended to form a group or union that would engage various parties involved in withholding of the run-off election.
“Instead of waiting for the outcomes of these processes, it’s important for us to encourage them to come together so that we talk with the contending parties and find the ways around the core issues raised, because the outcome of this process might be more troubling for us, especially rerun, which Liberia does not have money for,” he said.
Currently, he said, there are 56 election cases at the NEC and would probably increase looking at the situations relative to the just ended elections, which would take Liberia or NEC longer time to adjudicate before going to election this year or probably next year.
He said if it becomes clearer that probability of holding election is withheld, other parties might do things that would hurt the entire process, noting that intervention remains cardinal to peaceful transition and sustenance of Liberia’s peace.
Mr. Freeman said there is an escalation of commodity prices, which has put businesses at different positions across the country, noting that it will gradually affect the locals and importers in terms of importing new products or produce.
As a result, he said, “Business people will continue to swell prices in the absence of new commodities on the market."
"The people will suffer and it would have different impact on the country and would not be controlled at certain point.”
“The heads of the group or union will now engage the NEC and the Liberty Party to encourage them to put Liberia first and rest some of the issues and uplift some as well for everybody."
"There is a fear, because the halt of the election would create another problem for Liberia as President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will have to leave power on January 3, 2018,” he said.
He said the Constitution of Liberia is incomplete, because it does not spell out who will take power if the President, vice president and speaker tenure expired as it’s expected to take place in the wake of the political saga.
“I want to appreciate National Elections Commission, the action of Liberty Party on the legal course taken, and the actions of the Supreme Court and the Coalition for Democratic Change for being peaceful,” he said.