14 December 2012

Liberia: NDC Cries Vision Discrimination

Officials of the opposition National Democratic Coalition (NDC) say they are aware of the intrigues allegedly being employed by the government to ostracize them from the National Visioning Strategy of Liberia.

In a statement released yesterday but dated Wednesday Dec 12 shortly after ..... NDC officials warned that any process that "is characterized by intrigues, exclusive, and discriminatory politics cannot adequately reflect the aspirations of the broad mass of the people."

The release seeks clarifications from the government "and all of its organizing structures (including the Governance Commission) responsible for crafting the National Vision 2030 Strategy of Liberia as to why the NDC has been excluded from this vital national exercise, which is geared at national renewal and the overall process of post-war reconstruction and development of the country."

In the release, the NDC leaders said, "We are seeking clarifications from the Government of Liberia because since the formal launch of the National Visioning Program the national leadership of the NDC has never been invited to participate in any and all programs and proceedings of the Visioning National Agenda but other political parties have been invited to participate in this national endeavor."

Citing an example, they said they maintained that they were never invited to the three-day National Visioning deliberations that took place in Gbarnga, Bong County, from Dec 10 to 12, 2012. They claimed that other major national stakeholders, including "all other political parties" were invited.

In attempt to verify the claims that they were excluded from the conference, we contacted Dr. D. Elwood Dunn, one of the architects of the Vision 2030. He told our reporter that a coalition of political parties was invited to the conference and someone spoke on behalf of political parties.

But he said Dr. Marcus Dahn, a member of NDC, who attended the Gbarnga conference, was concerned about the person who spoke on behalf of political parties. Dr. Dunn who was focused on writing pertinent issues regarding the conference, was not in charge of inviting people to the conference. He referred our reporter to one Madam Elizabeth Mulbah of the Governance Commission (GC) who was in charge of invitation.

However, a staff member of GC who was contacted was not sure that Madam Mulbah was in Monrovia from Gbarnga. Efforts to talk to Mrs. Mulbah proved futile as a contact number that was given our reporter by the GC staff member was answered by a male voice who said it was a wrong number.

In the NDC release, the officials said prior to the Gbarnga meeting, other political parties of Liberia officially met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Monday, December 4, 2012 to discuss the National Visioning program but NDC officials said they were not accorded similar invitation.

"We would also like to further observe that unlike other political parties, we have never received any invitation to participate in any of the Visioning sectoral group discussions, as well as its nation-wide tour. Based on these foregoing developments, we would like to point out that the National Visioning Exercise of the Government would be considered incomplete and unrepresentative of the totality of Liberia, without the inclusion, involvement, participation, and subsequent endorsement by the NDC," the release said.

Signed by national chairman Alaric K. Tokpa; Siapha S. Gbillie, vice national chair for administration; Abraham B. Mitchell, national secretary-general; Williette Lysanda, national chair, women affairs; and Allison S. Tomah, acting national chair, youth affairs, the NDC leaders also stated unequivocally that there was no segment of the Liberian political class that can claim to be more knowledgeable of Liberia than them.

In other words, they said, not only "is the NDC as a political party knowledgeable about Liberia, we know exactly what is to be done to fix Liberia, how to get it fixed, as well as the required voltage of political will needed to address the complex Liberian situation."

They also cautioned that no one group of people should seek to design the future of Liberia "at the exclusion of the critical mass of the people including groups like the NDC, which represents one of the most politically experienced, ideologically clear, scientific, and consistent groups of people of Liberia."

According to them, "The NDC, among other political groupings, is represented and led by two of Liberia's foremost political parties, namely, the New Democratic Alternative for Liberia Movement (New DEAL Movement), Liberia's only social democratic party, and the Free Democratic Party (FDP).

"Both parties fought fearlessly with their bare hands against the forces of belligerence in Liberia for peace during our civil war, when others dared and fled the country.

"Consequently, the New DEAL Movement and the FDP were architects of, and signatories to the 2003 Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement that brought final and lasting peace to Liberia, after more than a quarter of century of political violence, including fourteen years of a bloody civil war that tore the guts of our country.

On the representation of the party in the National Legislature, the leaders said their party "is represented in the 53rd National Legislature, among few of the many political parties of Liberia, with six (6) legislators, including a senator from Bong County, who obtained the highest legislative vote count in the 2011 National Elections, as well as five (5) Representatives in the Lower House, emanating from Sinoe, Montserrado, Rivercess, Bong, and River Gee Counties, cutting across the geo-political spectrum of the country respectively. This is the minimum of what the NDC represents in the difficulty of struggle in Liberia!"

They warned that any process that "is characterized by intrigues, exclusive, and discriminatory politics cannot adequately reflect the aspirations of the broad mass of the people, and hence cannot survive the complex challenges of national renewal and post-war reconstruction and development."

According to them, "Liberia is not the personal fiefdom of any individual or any group of people that feel that they are the only set of people that own this country. Such efforts in the past failed to create a stable and peaceful Liberia and one that was torn asunder by tensions and cleavages that inevitably led to war and destruction in our country. Therefore, not to learn this lesson and embark on a vital national process at the exclusion of other political bodies like ours is only a repeat of the very things the National Visioning process ought to be guided against. This is recipe for failure once again."

NDC leaders made it clear that they were not grumbling or complaining for inclusion or recognition. They were only setting the record straight for posterity, they exclaimed.

The political leaders then urged every Liberian to remain vigilant in order to ensure that "the old tricks and cultures that characterized our country in the past should be thrown into the dustbin of history."

Like other dynamic entities, they said Liberia has moved away "from the old thinking and politics that shaped a failed, anti-people political order in Liberia; what we are calling for now is a genuinely all-embracing country that upholds the cultures and views of all its sovereign citizens, without exclusions."

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