By Zazay Kolubah;
The Government and 13 political parties of Liberia have agreed on to a mutual coexistence for better peace and democracy in Liberia.
This agreement was reached in Monrovia at a special dialogue organized recently by the Ministry of Justice and chaired by Justice Minister, Cllr. Fredrick D. Cherue. Twenty-one persons were in attendance at the dialogue.
Cllr. Cherue told the parties that the aim of the engagement was to solicit views and reecho the government’s commitment to upholding the mandate of the constitution, especially with regards to freedom of movement, speech, and assembly, keeping in view the 2017 general and presidential elections.
A better relationship between the two will prove to the international community that Liberians are ready and up to the task of keeping the peace.
“We will provide protection for all regardless of ethnic, religious, and political affiliation. This will mean that all political leaders and their followers will be given equal opportunity and free access to public facilities as they canvass for public offices. This does not mean that government will provide you cars and money.
It means government will provide equal protection under the law and you will have free access to public facilities for your meetings and gathering”, Cherue asserts.
The participants represented their chairmen and co-chairpersons, Secretary Generals, Youth and Women's Wings; they lauded the government for the invitation and described as a giant step toward sustaining democracy in Liberia.
They expressed hope for continue engagement adding that the move is another means to hear more of the concerns and views of ordinary Liberians, but through their political leaders.
The politicians laid special emphasis on what they considered as a rough approach by the Liberia National Police (LNP) against their supporters, most often at rallies and mass gatherings.
The parties maintained that their engagements and frank opinions about the governance process has often been misunderstood by state officials, mainly from the police, but they expressed hope that the LNP will make adjustments in their approach with ordinary partisans.
The LNP Chief, Inspector General Chris Massaquoi who was part of the Liberian Government team at the roundtable explained that the police, mandated to protecting lives and properties, will always remain servants of the state and its people.
There is no way the LNP will aim at a particular political group and cause mayhem against their partisans or disrupt their rallies.
Inspector General Massaquoi noted that the common bond between the two gets tin when either of the parties slips off guide. He committed the police to always operate in confines of the law. He asserts that political parties do not usually obtain permits for street rallies.
This, the LNP Inspector General stressed must be a prerequisite for such public assembly to allow the police to provide mutual safety for the political party’s supporters, other road users, and local residents.
Other issues brought forth to the table by the parties relate to economic and social welfare protection for citizens, creation of new jobs with better incentives, and maintaining an administration of inclusion and participation.
They want the government to clamp down hard on corruption and injustice, enhance security and accountability and manage state resources wisely.
Political parties represented at the one day roundtable include the National Patriotic Party (NPP), the Congress for Democracy Change (CDC), the New Liberia Party (NLP), the True Whig Party (TWP), Liberia Transformation Party (LTP), and Movement for Progressive Change (MPC).
Others were the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Victory for Change (VCP), Union of Liberia Democrats(ULD), Liberia National Union (LINU), People’s Unification Party(PUP), and the National Democratic Coalition(NDC) GDPL, VOLT, All Liberian Coalition Party (ALCOP), MLD.
The BIN Commissioner, Cllr. Lemuel E. A. Reeves explained that the work of the immigration is straightly non-political and guided by a code-of-conduct that prohibits BIN officers from engaging in politics while in service. He said the BIN operations can be enhanced when political parties report strange movements of aliens within their communities.
Minister Cherue thanked the parties for honoring the invitation and prayed for action on the resolution.
He conveyed greetings on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and stressed that the Liberian leader is interested in a smooth transition of power to the next government, which could be any of the parties represented.