Monday, August 18, 2003

Liberia: they have a deal!

LURD, MODEL and the Liberian government have signed a deal which outlines the makeup of the interim government which will be in place in October.

Just yesterday, this deal had seemed impossible. LURD had demanded the VP position in the interim government and the mediators had refused to allow them that. Then late yesterday, LURD dropped their demand, allowing the negotiations to proceed.

The mediators had initially decided that nobody from any of the warring factions could be president, vice president, speaker or deputy speaker in the interim government. However, they have now agreed to open up the speaker and deputy speaker positions to all members of the transitional government, and not limit it to members from political (non-rebel) parties.

The rebels had also wanted to reduce the president's powers because right now, the Liberian constitution grants the President a lot of power. However, the mediators felt that that issue should be dealt by elected representatives and prevailed on the rebles to drop this issue as well.

Here is a bit on what the deal contains:
The president and vice president - to be called the chairman and vice chairman - will be drawn from political parties and civic groups, not the rebels or Blah's government, said ECOWAS spokesman Sunny Ugoh, explaining that "the posts have been renamed as it is an interim administration".

... The new government will have 76 members: 12 each from Blah's government and the two rebel groups; 18 from political parties; seven from civil society and special interest groups; and one from each of Liberia's 15 counties.
LURD had said that the VP position had been offered to them. And I think they're right. According to this article, President Moses Blah went on CNN after Charles Taylor stepped down and said:
"I'm inviting (the rebels) even now... to come to Monrovia and I'm giving the post of the vice president to the rebels... to come and join a government to help bring peace to Liberia," Blah said in an interview with CNN.
ECOWAS, the folks mediating this peace deal, were against awarding the rebels the plum position .... they didn't want to reward warfare.

LURD = Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy
MODEL = Movement for Democracy in Liberia