July 8, 2005
His Excellency Charles Gyude Bryant
Chairman, National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL)
Monrovia , Liberia .
We have the pleasure to extend our greetings to you and to inform you that we, Concerned Liberians in the Diaspora, in consultation with Liberians residing in the homeland, having read the Liberia Economic Governance Action Plan, view the Plan, as structured, with serious misgivings and have therefore determined to communicate our views to you and to request that the National Transitional Government of Liberia not execute the Plan in its current form. We note and take very seriously the concerns expressed in the Plan that after more than eighteen months of intensive technical and policy advice and financial support Liberia is still plagued with dysfunctional institutions, fiscal mismanagement, perpetual systemic and endemic corruption, the absence of public accountability, and a lack of political will to implement measures geared toward enhancing the effectiveness of policy recommendations.
We are disappointed that at a time in our history when the future of our country depends on the forthrightness of our government, the government would undertake or omit to undertake activities that have plunged our country into even deeper uncertainties. We are particularly disturbed and saddened that the current government under your leadership finds itself engulfed in a web of allegations of corruption and mismanagement, and that the government seems to show a deliberate disregard for accountability and transparency in its deeds and activities. It is also a matter of concern to us that financial support and technical and policy advice by the international community have not caused the Transitional Government to address the ills that have infested the Liberian society, especially in the public sector. We condemn in the harshest of terms the corruption that has afflicted your administration.
However, while we are deeply appreciative of the efforts of the international community, we believe that specific components of the proposed Economic Plan, if implemented, would have adverse consequences for our country and its people. This is the basis of our recent call for modifications of the Plan to include the full participation of competent Liberians with professional integrity, who have the capacity to develop mechanisms for rooting the plan in the cultural norms and values of the nation, while also serving as instruments for assuring knowledge transfer to Liberians in order to bring about sustainable change. We are concerned, for example, that the Plan calls indirectly for an effective surrender of Liberia ’s sovereignty and the virtual placing of the nation in a state of trusteeship, given the definition of the terminology. We believe that there is grave need to address and bring to a complete halt the widespread corrupt activities of the Liberian government and that measures should be taken, which ensure adherence to the basic principles of good governance, accountability, transparency and equal access to justice—all of which seem to be lacking under the present administrative arrangements within the Transitional Government. The solution to these problems, notwithstanding, is not to place Liberia ’s political leadership in the hands of foreign teams. We believe that there are alternative intervention measures that can be adopted with the same ultimate results that the Plan professes to seek to achieve.
Moreover, we are of the opinion that neither you nor the transitional legislative assembly has the constitutional or statutory authority to surrender the sovereignty of Liberia to a so-called team of foreign experts, and if such actions were to be pursued by you or any other government authority in Liberia , that could result in grave legal consequences for such authority. We therefore advice that the Plan be remodeled so that the best interest of the Liberian people are served.
The Plan also calls for endorsement of the measures proposed therein by Executive Order or legislative enactment, some of which measures are in clear contravention of the Liberian constitution. The proposal, for example, that foreign personnel serve as judges of or preside over Liberian courts directly contravenes the Liberian Constitution and shows a complete disregard for the rule of law. Under the Liberian Constitution and statutory laws, only Liberian citizens can serve as judges of Liberian courts. Notwithstanding, it is our opinion that the Liberian Judiciary needs full reforming. The process of selecting judges needs to be rigidly altered, salary adjustments need to be undertaken so that judges are paid appropriately as would foreigners serving in such capacity if that were possible under Liberian law; and a serious effort must be made to recruit competent Liberian judges and rid the courts of the currently suspected corrupt judges. We believe the issue of corruption in Liberia, especially within the Judiciary and Executive Branches, could be resolved with the establishment of a Corruption Commission with ultimate powers to investigate and prosecute persons suspected of corruption, both in the public and private sectors, and the authority to impose severe penalties, including imprisonment of up to forty or fifty years and the confiscation of the property; of persons found guilty of such acts. A code of conduct for public officials should also be enacted as part of a national anti-corruption effort, from which not even the President of the nation should be immune.
In addition, the Economic Plan’s effective exclusion of Liberians from the development and reconstruction process of their country strictly on the basis of their nationality is discriminatory and must be rejected. We propose instead that Liberians must be given first consideration and equal access and opportunity to compete for positions offered in the current process. Furthermore, a proper selection process should include determination of the competence of applicants of Liberian descent, even if consideration were to be given to foreigners in certain instances. Moreover, Liberia should retain the right to vet all potential applicants (Liberians and non-Liberians) in order to make determinations as to their competence, especially where they would be paid from Liberian resources. We also believe that in the instance that the Economic Plan is implemented, it must set out a mechanism for the complete transfer of knowledge, skill, and technology within a specified period of time so that Liberians have the opportunity to control every sector of the nation’s governance frame exclusive of foreign intervention.
The foregoing are only a few of the concerns we have regarding the Plan. Another Committee of the Concerned Group of Liberians in the Diaspora is currently analyzing the draft Economic Plan for areas of possible modification or remodeling, and we will be communicating our findings to you in due course, with the view of and as a basis for seeking a remodeling of the Plan.
FOR THE LETTER COMMITTEE OF CONCERNED LIBERIANS IN THE DIASPORA
Counselor Philips Z. Banks
Chairman of the Committee & Legal Advisor to Concerned Group of Liberians
Former Minister of Justice, RL & Legal Advisor to Drafters of the 1986 Liberian Constitution
Emmanuel Dolo, PhD
Member of the Committee
Coordinator of the Office of Equity and Integration, South Washington School System, Minnesota
Nat G. Gbessagee
Member of the Committee
Former Director of Public Affairs, Ministry of Information, RL & Secretary General of LIHEDE
Syrulwa Somah, PhD
Ex-Officio Member of the Committee
Associate Professor, North Carolina A&T State University & Executive Director of LIHEDE