April 20, 2005
Dear Senator Lugar:
As a pastor of a predominantly Liberian congregation in the United States and an advocate for Liberians living outside their country, I join tens of thousands of my fellow Liberians around the world, in calling for out of country voting for all Liberian citizens in Liberia’s historic post-war national elections scheduled to be held on Tuesday, October 11, 2005. I ask that you kindly assist Liberians in making a strong case to the United States Government, The Liberian Government, the United Nations, the African Union, and the entire international community, that giving all Liberians the opportunity to participate in Liberia’s October elections is an essential step in paving the way for a secured, prosperous and democratic Liberia.
At the height of the Liberian civil war President Bush made the historic assessment and call that the departure of Mr. Charles Taylor was a precondition for ending the civil war in Liberia. President Bush’s statement not only resulted in Mr. Taylor’s departure, but also created the climate for subsequent talks and the signing of a peace agreement among Liberia’s warring factions. Liberia has enjoyed relative peace and stability and is well on its way to developing a stable society where all of its people can live in peace and aspire to the height of their God-given abilities.
I believe Senator Lugar that the prospects for peace in Liberia will be enhanced greatly if Liberians living abroad are given an equal opportunity to vote for their future leaders as their fellow citizens living in country. Many of these Liberians, forced to flee their nation because of corrupt and inept leadership, have longed for the opportunity to contribute their quota for a better future. They have sacrificed their own financial well being to provide for family members in harms-way and thus contributed in sustaining their country’s economy during the fateful years of violent conflict. I know this from personal stories of members of my church and the Liberian community living in the United States.
Giving them a chance to vote for new leaders would be a fitting reward for their dedication to their fellow citizens, their love for their country and their great hope for democracy. Liberians in America have even committed themselves to paying a registration fee, if necessary, to ensure that they will be able to vote in their country’s elections.
What a beautiful picture it would be, Mr. Senator, to have Liberians queuing up in American cities and cities in Europe, Canada and Africa to peacefully and democratically choose their next leaders. This will contrast greatly with the not too long ago scenes of street fighting and throngs of Liberians fleeing as factional leaders sought to gain political power by sheer force and violence. We ask you, Mr. Senator, to provide the moral leadership and requisite assistance for the freedom loving Liberian people around the world to begin the process of healing and rebuilding a truly democratic Liberia, by voting in their country’s democratic national elections.
Within this vein, we ask that you kindly grant an audience to a delegation of Liberians and American citizens to present a prepared statement to you or a designated official of your committee, during a planned visit to Washington on Thursday, May 26, 2005, as part of a campaign to encourage Out of Country voting for all Liberians. Similar visits are being planned with officials at the White House, the State Department and with the Congressional Black Caucus.
We thank you, Mr. Senator, for the enormous support that the United States and the American people have provided the nation and people of Liberia during the difficult years of civil conflict and we can assure you that with your help that Liberia will again become a shining star in Africa and a proud democratic ally of the United States. For future references, I can be contacted at NAPOLEONLDIVINE@AOL.COM. 215-729-0214/215-884-1264/ or at 267-971-6561.
May God bless you, your family and your committee.
Rev. Napoleon L. Divine, Ed.D. Pastor/ Christ International Baptist Church
Coordinator/ The Liberia Campaign for Out of Country Voting for All Liberians