Tuesday, October 5, 2010

CRITICAL ISSUES OF NATIONAL CONCERN XVI

AN EXPERIENCE WITH LOCAL DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES

Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei




For the past few months, I have been engaged with official matters going around the country working on a major national reform process: the Liberia Decentralization and Local Development program. This engagement and other scholarly vocations have kept me not necessarily silent, but in action for what I have been campaigning for - the empowerment of local people to advance themselves through democratic self-governance. For those who have been reading this series for the past two years, I invoke your forgiveness for keeping you waiting so long, but truly I have been working to ensure that our collective visions and thoughts are translated into actions. Our work around the country has been about engaging local leaders and citizens in each county on the National Policy on Decentralization and Local Governance. This has basically involved sensitization and soliciting inputs on how decentralization can be implemented in Liberia.

My experiences around the country were mixed. And I intend to share these experiences in this edition and the ones that will follow. First, may I say that it was a grand opportunity, and a significant education for me to travel to all of the counties in Liberia. I spent not less than 72 hours in each of the county capitals. My curiosity led me to discovering lot of things I have not learned in a classroom, neither had I seen on paper. Through conversations with local residents, I discovered a resilient characteristic to survive in the absence of a fully functional state authority. I travelled so many miles and passed so many towns and villages without seeing state institutions. I saw how resourceful Liberia is in terms of forest and habitable resources when I travelled through the southeast, and I discovered a huge potential for tourism and fishery investment in some counties, like Grand Cape Mount, Rivercess, and Grand Kru Counties. Gambia is today boasting of tourism as a major source of revenue. Kenya and Ghana are also making significant gains in the tourism industry. Liberia needs to dig into this area to have an additional source of state revenue. This will also empower local communities.

The people of Rivercess for example, have two major occupations: Fishery and Forestry. Empowering the people in that part of the country to advance in these areas will take them from subsistence to commercial activities. This will promote local employment and sustainable development. Our failure to efficiently tap into what nature has endowed us with is what continues to hold us back.

It is not strange that despite Monrovia being a very least developed city, all of the capitals in the counties are far least developed, and that effective modern institutions for human development are absent. My experience at a magisterial court hearing in the Cestos City Hall (Rivercess County) in April 2010 further convinced me that the state is not fully functional at the level of the counties, and the local people are left to survive their own way. Yet, they look up to that system. I witnessed major cases concerning mineral agents and illegal miners, rapes, and civil matters decided by undertrained magistrates and city solicitors.

In all of the counties, you see revenue collection offices, but you will hardly see effective service delivery institutions. This piece is just intended to practically state how challenging it is for an under-resourced central government to effectively deliver services to the local people. The need for decentralization in Liberia is long overdue, but will never be late in as much as the centralized state system continues to dismally fail those that are not in the urban and peri-urban areas of Monrovia. I mean not to say either that it has greater efficiency in the urban and peri-urban areas, but I admit that it has huge visibility in those areas.
In some of the counties, the imperial presidency in Monrovia is vested in the president’s agents - Superintendents and Commissioners - who do not see themselves as leaders of the people, whose power and authority is in the hands of the people. As agent of the President in Monrovia, they act on their own and wait for command from Capitol Hill to decide the fate of thousands of people in big communities and towns. Some of them see themselves as lords, and they are imposing arbitrary rules on the local people. In Bomi County for example, a County Attorney is using his title to intimidate people for a contested farmland in which he has vested interest.
Beyond Monrovia, there is no major socio-economic development, and the rise in rural-urban migration is heavily affecting agricultural activities in those areas; and with limited employment opportunities in Monrovia, the potential for crime in idled young people cannot be overemphasized. Monrovia is getting populated by the day even in the absence of socio-economic facilities. The solution to our development problems can be directly traced to our inadequacies in governance and public administration. In order to avert these and ensure an equitable distribution of our collective power and wealth, we must accelerate the process of transferring power to our local people. Through this, they will be empowered to determine who leads them, and what development priorities they want. Government decentralization is also a means to peace and democracy. The ‘power inherent in the people’ as provided for in Article One of our Constitution, cannot be adequately accentuated if our people do not fully participate in their own governance and development processes. Holding periodic elections does not translate into functional participatory democracy. Participatory democracy extends to the right of the people to continuously decide what they want, get regular accounts of the actions of their leaders, alter government at their will, and so forth. And this process is not an end, but its goal is to advance the lives of the people at all levels, and to create the enabling environment through which every individual has equal opportunities to excel. By this, greed is curtailed, and the possibilities for individual, ethnic or sectarian grievances become limited. Thus peace and development will prevail. Therefore, the most sustainable solution to our development challenges lies in a process of decentralization or a system shared-authority between national government and semi-autonomous local governments.

-In the Cause of Democracy and Social Justice, the Pen Shall Never Run Dry-

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

POST-WAR SECURITY SECTOR REFORM IN LIBERIA: DEVELOPMENT AND CHALLENGES

IBRAHIM AL-BAKRI NYEI

NOTE: This article was first published in the April 2010 Issue 1 of Conflict Trends by the African Center for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) in South Africa. Any reference to this article should mention that issue because it is the sole property of ACCORD.

The end of the civil war in Liberia in 2003, and the
subsequent free and fair democratic elections of 2005,
signalled the emergence of peace, stability and sustainable
development to the country. Reaping benefits from
the cessation of hostilities and the ensuing democratic
environment, Liberians needed to make necessary
adjustments to accommodate decisions stemming
from the 2003 Peace Accord. The National Transitional
Government of Liberia (NTGL) and the United Nations
Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) worked together to ensure that
the Peace Accord was decisively pursued and scrupulously
implemented. Subsequently, the first post-war democratic
regime assumed power in 2006, and continued the
collaboration with the UN Mission to ensure that the
country’s reform peace agenda was implemented.

Paramount among the reform recommendations
was Security Sector Reform (SSR). This issue sparked
major debate amongst the country’s actors. Warring
factions wanted to feature their generals in the reformed
(new) army, while civil society activists and political
parties argued against the recruitment of “rebels” into
the military. The outcome was an agreement that the
new army would accommodate members of all warring
factions in its ranks, including the moribund Armed Forces
of Liberia (AFL) and forces loyal to the government of
Charles Taylor1 at the time of the signing of the peace
agreement. The reform programme was ongoing until
31 December 2009, when the United States turned over
the Armed Forces of Liberia’s SSR programme to the
democratic government of Liberia.

This article is an assessment of the SSR programme
in Liberia since the end of the civil war. It also looks
into the challenges faced by the stakeholders in ensuring
that Liberia gets trained security institutions that are
responsive to the people and are not agents of abuse and
blind state loyalists, as was seen in the past.

The Context of Post-war Security Sector Reform

SSR is a concept that was introduced in international
development discourses in 1998, in a speech delivered
by the ministerial head of the British Department for
International Development (DfID), Clare short. Issues
concerning the building of democratic security institutions
and the need for a viable and comprehensive security
sector had featured earlier in development discourses,
but it was short’s speech and the policies promulgated by
the DfID that made the concept of SSR a relevant concept
in international peace, security and development2. Since
then, it has been applied to countries emerging from
wars, and nations that are either failing or weak and
fragile. Specifically, development donors have argued
that assistance must flow into secured environments and,
as such, the necessary security architecture must be in
place to ensure successful and peaceful implementation
of such development aid. Security reform has mainly been
applied to help countries that are transitioning to peace
and rebuilding state institutions.

The concept of SSR is now widely accepted and
popularly used, even though there were proposals of
different phrases to represent the concept when it was
introduced to the development debate. These proposals
included that of the Bureau of Crisis Prevention and
recovery (BCPR) of the united Nations Development
Program which, in 2003, began to promote similar ideas
but with different terms, like “justice and security sector
reform” (JSSR)3.

SSR is now understood to refer to a programme of
reform of a country’s security system, which involves the
transformation and restructuring of the military and police
forces, and any paramilitary organisations controlled by
the state. This process has to do with the restructuring
and empowering of security-related institutions for
effectiveness, discipline and capacity-building for
community development initiatives. In some instances,
judicial or judiciary reform initiatives are considered under
SSR programmes.

When a country goes to war or becomes embroiled in
internal civil strife, and its legitimate security institutions
(the military and police) divide into factions with belligerent
motives, peacekeeping activities become difficult, civilians
are abused, more warring parties emerge, and the entire
nation degenerates into disorder. In such a scenario, when
the violence subsides and peacebuilding programmes
are being implemented, reform of the security sector is
essential to restore the state’s credibility and to reassure
the citizenry of their security.

Liberia’s security sector has been no exception to the
above. During the country’s 14-year-long civil war, all of
the security forces and institutions joined warring factions,
and the institutions became factionalised. As a result, the
citizenry lost faith in these security institutions. reforming
the sector in the post-war era was thus critical to ensure
the security of the people of Liberia, and not merely the
protection of short-term regimes.

Political and Legal Background of Security Sector
Reform in Liberia


Even before the plunder and devastation of the civil
war (1989–2003), Liberia’s security institutions were
heavily politicised by officials of government, and
survived on patronage. Its personnel were poorly trained
and had no special civic education programmes. Security
personnel saw themselves and their political patrons as
masters of the people rather than protectors and servants
of the people. They became unpopular for their lack
of professionalism, corruption, frequent human rights
violations and their exploitation by their political patrons
to intimidate – and, at times, terrorise – the people. In
1980, the military seized power in Liberia and, in 1985,
transformed itself into a civilian government. From 1980
onwards, Liberia’s security forces were part of the political
process and thereby lost their neutrality and relevance
as enforcers of the law and protectors of the people.
The ruthlessness of these forces was seen during the civil
war, when most of them joined factions and led campaigns
of terror against the civilians. After the civil war – and with
virtually no reliable security institutions left in the country
– it became politically necessary to reorganise, train and
rebuild an effective and well-trained pro-people security
regime for the country, as part of the post-war governance
reform process.

Liberia’s SSR programme was conceived to address
the above historical faults, and “to create a secure and
peaceful environment, both domestically and in the
sub-region, that is conducive to sustainable, inclusive,
and equitable growth and development”4. In the Poverty
Reduction Strategy of Liberia (PRS) of 2008-2011, the
government articulated issues of peace and security
as a first priority, without which there could be no real
development in the country. The first pillar of the PRS was
therefore “consolidating peace and security”.
Liberia’s SSR programme is legally empowered by
three enabling, but complicated, instruments. These are
the Comprehensive Peace Accord of 2003, the Constitution
of Liberia, and the united Nations security Council
resolution 1509 of 2003.

The Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA)
The CPA was signed in 2003 in Accra, and set the
platform for the end of the war. It provided for several
institutional reforms – including those in the security
sector – to guide the peace process and lead the transition
to a new democratic dispensation. It was operational for
two years, and was the foremost legal instrument for the
NTGL of 2003-05, since certain provisions of the 1986
Constitution of Liberia were suspended to accommodate
the compromises and reforms needed for the country’s
stability and recovery. Part four of the CPA – security
sector reform – first called for the disbandment of all
irregular forces in the republic of Liberia, to set the stage
for total reform in the security sector. The real process of
reform is outlined in Articles VII and VIII of part four of
the CPA.

In Article VII, the CPA called for the disbandment of
all irregular forces, and the reforming and restructuring of
the Armed Forces of Liberia. It also requested substantial
support in material, capacity-building and other technical
support from the united Nations (UN), the economic
Community of West African states (ECOWAS), the African
Union (Au), and the International Contact Group on Liberia
(ICGL), with a call to the United States (US) to play a lead
role in reforming the Armed Forces of Liberia. To that end,
the US contracted the services of private companies –
including DynCorp and Pacific Architects & Engineers, or
PAE – to take charge of the training process.

Article VII also set out the criteria by which personnel
should be recruited into the new armed forces, and it laid
emphasis on education, medical fitness, professionalism
and one’s human rights record. Article VII (c) clearly
outlined the mission of the new Armed Forces of Liberia
as “to defend the national sovereignty and in extremis,
respond to natural disasters”5.

In Article VIII, the CPA called for the restructuring of the
Liberia National Police and all other security forces in the
country, including the Special Security Services, as well as
the “ruthless” Anti-Terrorist Unit and the Special Operation
Division of the Liberia National Police – both of which were
created by the regime of Charles Taylor and had developed
fearsome reputations for human rights violations. The two
were disbanded in 2003 and their members demobilised.
In restructuring the police and other security services, the
CPA laid special emphasis on democratic controls and
values, and the respect of human rights by these forces,
stating:
There shall be an immediate restructuring of the
National Police Force, the Immigration Force, Special
Security Service (SSS), custom security guards and
such other statutory security units. These restructured
security forces shall adopt a professional orientation
that emphasizes democratic values and respect for
human rights, a non-partisan approach to duty and the
avoidance of corrupt practices6.


The Constitution of Liberia (1986)
The Constitution of Liberia gave the executive and the
legislative branches of government a broad mandate on
security issues in the country. under the Constitution, the
president as commander-in-chief “appoints members of
the military from the rank of lieutenant or its equivalence
and above; and field marshals, deputy field marshals,
and sheriff”7. In addition, issues of defence and security
management are implemented by agencies in the executive
branch, headed by the president.

The Constitution empowered the legislature to “provide
for the security of the republic, defend, declare war and to
order the executive to declare peace, and to make rules for
the governance of the Armed Forces of Liberia”8. At the
inception of the SSR programme, all the provisions of the
Constitution concerning the powers of the executive and
the legislature were suspended, and the only legal national
instrument was the CPA of 2003.

Upon the election and subsequent inauguration of
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in 2006, all suspended
provisions of the 1986 Constitution were reinstated, and
the Constitution regained its position as the supreme law
of Liberia. This Constitution has been very relevant to the
post-war security reform process over the last years.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1509
UN Security Council resolution 1509 of September
2003 provided a legal framework for the SSR programme
in Liberia. It mandated UNMIL to assist the transitional
government in monitoring and restructuring the police
and military forces, with an emphasis on democratic
values. The security Council also mandated UNMIL to
monitor and facilitate reforms in other areas, including
the security sector, where it required that UNMIL “…assist
the transitional government of Liberia in monitoring and
restructuring the police force of Liberia, consistent with
democratic policing, to develop a civilian police training
program, and to otherwise assist in the training of civilian
police, in cooperation with ECOWAS, international
organizations, and interested states”.

For the AFL, it mandated UNMIL “to assist the
transitional government in the formation of a new and
restructured Liberian military in cooperation with ECOWAS,
international organizations and interested states”9.

What Progress?

Since 2004, stakeholders in the Liberian peace process
have been engaged in a public campaign to recruit young
Liberians into the police and military forces, as well as
such paramilitary groups as immigration and correctional
services. Restructuring of the Liberian National Police
(LNP) began in 2004, with the help of the UNMIL. This
reform has gone beyond a mere recruitment of officers
to a process of institutional capacity-building, with
reforms in the rank and file of the police service. Monthly
salaries for the lowest rankings in the police have been
increased over 100% during the last four years. In the
areas of infrastructure and institutional reform, the LNP
has undergone considerable restructuring. The position
of police director has now been changed to inspector
general, and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is
now called the Crime Service Department. These changes
in names are intended to reflect the modified missions
and purposes of the positions and departments within the
police. For example, a Women and Children Protection
Section has been created within the LNP as a first line of
response regarding women’s and children’s issues.

Other institutional rebuilding initiatives that have
taken place include the development of a LNP duty manual
and the establishment of a Police Promotion Board, and
new police stations (depots) are being built around the
country. Currently, the police have trained and deployed
over 3 500 personnel. In the area of emergency response
to armed robberies and riots, the LNP has established an
Emergency Response Unit (ERU). This unit is intended to
be a specialised, armed anti-crime unit in the police, and
it now has 287 personnel toward a target of 500. There is
also a Police support unit, which has trained 148 officers
toward a target of 60010.

With regard to the military, the AFL is currently the
main spotlight of the country’s SSR programme. Liberians
fear the military, due to its brutal roles in the civil war
and its general violence, indiscipline and human rights
abuses. Reforming the AFL is popular with the people of
Liberia, and the process has involved individual citizens
and civil society organisations – citizens have the right
to challenge and vet new applicants to the army. During
the recruitment process, photographs of applicants are
displayed in community centres for citizens to review and
to object, should candidates have a record of indiscipline,
crime and human rights abuses. Besides this process,
background investigations are conducted on individual
applicants in their communities and schools. The
target for the reformed AFL in the PRS is 2, 000 soldiers.
Successfully, through the support of the US government
and other development partners of Liberia, the AFL has
trained over 2 000 personnel, who have been deployed to
various barracks.

The AFL is also undergoing institutional and human
capacity-building. The reform process is serious about
having a literate army. This new AFL is now comprised of
personnel with at least a junior high school education, and
it also has in it many high school and college graduates.
The “new AFL”, as it is called, has over time been involved
in community services, including the construction of
roads and bridges, medical assistance to hospitals, and
community clean-up efforts.
The US and other partners have aided the government
of Liberia in rebuilding barracks and providing logistical
support to the new army, and four barracks have been
refurbished and made fully operational11. The Liberian
Coast Guard unit of the AFL has also trained about
40 officers, and this unit has a mandate of improving
coastline management, controlling smuggling and illegal
fishing. There is also a new bureau for the welfare of
retired AFL servicemen, called the Bureau of Veteran
Affairs.

Other security institutions have also been reformed
and reactivated, including the Bureau of Immigration,
Bureau of Correction and the National Fire Service. A
general review process of all of the security institutions
has taken place, and the government has adopted a
National Security Strategy as the working tool for peace
and security in the country.

Factors Impeding the SSR Programme

Liberia’s security reform programme, like most post-conflict
governance reform initiatives, is faced with the
perennial challenges of inadequate resources and limited
human resource capacity to improve and sustain the
integrity of the programme and the effectiveness of the
security institutions. All of these are faced with logistical
challenges in the discharge of their duties, and these are
further exacerbated by the level of underdevelopment in
the country.

The ineffectiveness of the LNP to respond to
emergencies in the country has been attributed to a lack
of equipment – including radios, vehicles, handcuffs and
raincoats (for the rainy season). These shortages are also
common to the Bureaux of Immigration and Correction,
and the National Fire service. The integrity of the police
system is highly criticised in the country, resulting in
some citizens describing the police force as “a new wine
in an old bottle”. The police have been seen engaging in
violations, including brutality against civilians and bribery.
These attitudes of indiscipline, while publicly condemned,
discourage a populace already weary of insecurity
and corruption.

The country is also still struggling to deal with the
ex-servicemen of the AFL, who have staged numerous
strikes for benefits and re-enlistment into the new military.
Some of the demobilised soldiers still allege that they
are in the army, claiming that the CPA called for the
restructuring of the AFL, and not its disbandment. The
new army has retained some staff from the old army
and re-enlisted them into the force. The government has
tried to respond to the concerns of the disbanded soldiers
by paying arrears of US$4.1 million – including US$228
000 to AFL widows – and has promised that any further
assistance to the disbanded soldiers will be directed at
jobs and training opportunities as a means of ensuring
sustainability in benefits12.

Conclusion

Liberia’s current security system is a considerable
improvement over the pre-war untrained and highly
politicised security institutions that were used to
intimidate citizens and maximise the power of the security
forces. Significant gains have been made through the
training and/or retraining of officers for the AFL, LNP,
Immigration, Correction and other security institutions. As
the training of security institution personnel – particularly
in the armed forces and the police – grows in terms of
numbers, donors are gradually leaving the process to the
Liberian government.

As for the AFL, the us government has already turned
it over to the Liberian government. It is now time for
the country to protect its citizens by maintaining trained
and equipped security institutions. The need to train
and deploy more police officers around the country is
critical to sustaining the integrity of the SSR programme
and promoting internal security. The need to open
educational and training opportunities for personnel of
the security institutions to advance themselves cannot
be overemphasised, since there is a yearning for a literate
security regime with civic and democratic values. Equally
important to the process is the need to improve the
salaries and benefits of servicemen and women in security
institutions, and to maintain the standards of training
introduced by the development partners at the inception
of the SSR programme.

Endnotes

1 Forces loyal to the government of Charles Taylor included the
Anti-terrorist unit, special Operation Division, the militia, and
other paramilitary forces.

2 Brzoska, Michael (2003) Development Donors and the Concept
of Security Sector Reform. Geneva Centre for the Democratic
Control of Armed Force (DCAF), Occasional Paper No. 4, p. 3.

3 Malan, Mark (2008) Security Sector Reform in Liberia: Mixed
Results from humble Beginnings., strategic studies Institute,
US Army War College. Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

4 Republic of Liberia (2008) Consolidating Peace and security,
Chapter 6: Poverty Reduction STrategy

5 Comprehensive Peace Accord of Liberia, Part Four,
Article VII (c).

6 Comprehensive Peace Accord of Liberia, Part Four, Article VIII,
Section 1.

7 Constitution of the republic of Liberia, Article 54, January
1986.

8 Constitution of the republic of Liberia, Article 34 (b) and (c),
January 1986.

9 United Nations Security Council resolution 1509, September
2003.

10 Annual Message to the 5th session of the National Legislature
by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, 25 January 2010.

11 Griffith, Cecil (2010) Initial report on Liberia’s SSR Program.
Civil society SSR Working Group.

12 Annual Message to the 5th session of the National Legislature
by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, 25 January 2010.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Commemorating Africa’s Liberation on May 25… But is Africa Really Free?

Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei

In the 1960s the struggle to wipe out white imperial rule on the continent of Africa gained steam with several nations gaining political independence – to govern themselves without the interference of western imperialists. During that time revolutionary movements on the continent became strong and the battle for independence became fierce. Some western powers yielded to compromises, some were defeated and forced out.

In the first three years of the 1960s independent African states formed what was the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) with the aim of decolonizing the rest of Africa. Through the OAU several efforts were made to help territories under colonial rule become independent. Before the OAU, there were some other pro-independent African organizations like the Pan-African Movement, the Conference of Independent African States, and the All-African People’s Conference (made up of territories under colonial rule) all vociferously advocating the total independence of Africa.

Then before them and even during their existence, there were so many wars during which thousands of Africans died at the hands of imperialists just to gain access and control over their own lands. This article also recognizes the role of the mosquito in inflicting malaria on the imperialists, something that also feared them away.

But the question now is after all of these efforts and years of independence… is Africa free? The answer here is a big NO – and open for extended arguments. The first burden on the continent was slavery through which Europeans captured or bought the living and healthy bodies of African men and women, took them away as their properties. They were made to work on plantations and in homes, and tied in chains with their freedom restrained in all aspects. Above all, they were dehumanized as they were made to believe that they were sub-humans. Since then, Africans have lived with the mentality that whatsoever is Western, and whosoever is not a black by race, is a superior. Here individual worth does not matter, but race and country of origin. This is one burden on the mentality of Africans.

During exploration, either through geographical adventures or the search for resources, the westerners discovered that Africa was a rich continent, and to claim ownership of that wealth was to establish political authorities on the continent. Then came colonization and imperialism. They came and took over territories and established governments amenable only to themselves. They looted, pillaged, plunder the continents resources. They desecrated African cultures, religions, and traditional values. They colonized and corrupted the mentality of the young Africans and made them to believe that anything African is uncivilized, even though civilization began in Africa (Egypt). Then it came time when there was a scramble over African territories, so they met and partitioned the continent like a piece of pie.

The new bondage on the continent is huge debts. While the West is keeping Africa in bondage through huge debts, they are also keeping the continents development in check through international institutions that enforces rules of governance and for development assistance only applicable to Africa. International laws are also enforced in Africa then any part of the world.

Those are the external factors that have over the years affected the states in Africa. And by extension the people. In the midst of the threats from imperialists in the 19th and 20th centuries and neo-imperialists of today, African leaders pose a second and more frustrating threat to the total liberation of their people. Yet, they are politically free to run sovereign nations. But their people are impoverished to the ebb. African leaders in many countries have not done much to liberate their people from poverty and make them feel proud of the abundance of resources and potentials endowed to the continent. Africa tops in all of the vices: Highest HIV/AIDS rate, highest malaria rate, highest rate in teenage pregnancy, and harbors the world’s poorest people; even though those poor people own lands and resources that are making the world’s richest people to be who they are. As a result there are mass exoduses of Africans everyday to western nations in such of greener pastures. There, they work as casual laborers to process raw materials from their homes, and the end-products sent back to them to purchase.

Corruption and autocratic leadership have been the most internal obstacles to the freedom of African people. I accept that we are running sovereign states, but I argue that we the people are not free. And that remains the basis of my argument. In Zimbabwe the man once revered to be the freedom fighter and the ‘people’s popular leader’ has clinched unto power, terrorizing and crushing opposition dissents, and at the same time westerners have imposed sanctions on him in vengeance to his stance against neo-imperialism. That is a dilemma for the people of Zimbabwe. Their economy has sunk into an abyss, and socio-economic conditions have become too harsh. In the central region of the continent, most of the states have failed, collapsed or are weak. Congo has failed, Sudan has collapsed and secession is eminent by next year, Chad and the Central African Republic are weak. West Africa is dominated by weak and failing states. Corruption is uncontrollable in this region. This is where society frowns on accountable leaders and cherishes murderers and corrupt officials. In Liberia, few groups of people, about 75 persons have held the country for over forty years and it is among them leadership circulates. The rest of the population still lives in poverty and hopelessness. Corruption is at its peak in the present government, and it is not just casting doubts on the credibility of the present regime, but also eroding public confidence in the state as a whole. Warlords and former corrupt government officials are the most ‘honorable’ citizens.

Guinea, Niger, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau, and Madagascar are failing as a result of coups and civil uprisings. Madagascar is a rear case and deserves extended political research. This is where civilians launched a coup and the coup was endorsed by the military.

Again I continue to argue that with poor leadership on the continent, bad governance, mass poverty, poor health care, mass illiteracy, huge debt burden, and the external threat of neo-imperialism through international organizations, AFRICA IS NOT FREE!

The vices are enormous and pathetic to name. Africa’s solutions to total liberation must begin now! And that must be a priority of every African, mainly the continent’s leaders. True independence in Africa will come when the leaders of the continent are accountable and transparent in public service; when the people of Africa participates freely and openly in a system of democratic governance; when the people are free to choose among options that will advance their socio-economic needs; when the nation-states in Africa will be strategic partners in international development and cooperation not mere receivers of aid, or not ‘gatekeeper states’; when civil uprisings and violent conflicts end; and when the first priority of every African government will be to advance the human security of its citizens. LONG LIVE AFRICA, AND LONG LIVE THE PEOPLE OF AFRICA!!!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

A MESSAGE FOR PEACE AT FLY’s ASSEMBLY 2010


Fellow young people, delegates to the Sixth general Assembly of FLY, I bring you greetings in the name of unity, peace, solidarity and nationalism.

We have left our counties, our homes, our families and schools to assemble here today and deliberate on issue pertinent to the socio-economic empowerment of ourselves and our country. We are here to discuss issues that will affect us and the generation behind us. It is therefore incumbent upon us to be tolerant and peaceful as we embark on this process intended to open a new chapter for the Federation and the young people of Liberia.

Let us remember that a house divided against itself cannot stand at all. We must therefore be united and mutually tolerant to speak as one, because we have the same problems that affect us as young people. What affect the youths of Maryland County, affects the youths of Grand Cape Mount County, and the same affects youths all over the country. We share the same problems; we must therefore derive collective solutions. If one person succeeds, we have all succeeded. This assembly must be a turning point for us all.

We have had perennial problems of marginalization in national development issues, and our progress have been retarded by the level of poverty and underdevelopment that resulted from the fourteen years of decadent conflicts our country went through. Today is a new day, we are experiencing peace and normal activities have resumed in our country. This is therefore a moment of opportunity we must seize to address the problems associated with our advancement. We cannot hold anyone responsible if we fail to work together for ourselves today, and for the generation behind us.

For the past few years we have been stereotyped as violent-oriented youths. Our critics build their assumptions on what we have done in the last two years. In 2007 we made the world to think negatively about us when we failed to organize ourselves in Gbarnga (April) and in Kakata (September). A replica of the same situations took place when we met in Gbarnga in 2009 (July) to elect a new leadership for LINSU. We are challenged to prove our critics wrong. We are challenged to tell the world that we are prepare for peace and we that are prepare to contribute to the peace and development of our country.

This assembly is an opportunity for us. We must strive as best as possible to ensure that we have peaceful deliberations and a peaceful electoral process that will facilitate a smooth transition in our leadership. We must relinquish our personal interests for the collective good. We are here today as individuals, but what we do will represent our counties, our homes, and the schools we come from.

Some months back, I got several calls by friends from all over the country asking me to contest for the position of First Vice President of FLY. I accepted those petitions as a call to duty. Today I am in the race as a candidate certified by the Independent Election Commission of FLY. I look up to you all to support me in this election, and also after the election that we all may work together and make FLY the organization we want it to be. While we look up to government for our empowerment, we must also begin to put in place those mechanisms that will prove to the world that we are serious; and we must begin to work towards our own empowerment by organizing ourselves peacefully, by working in our communities as volunteers for development, and by ensuring that we get the necessary education, discipline and training for national leadership. Long Live FLY!!!!! LONG, LONG LIVE LIBERIA!!!!!!!!!

Make Peace Prevail
Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei