My Fellow Citizens
I was drawn into politics by the popular mandate of the Liberian people. I accepted the challenge because of the love for country and people. I have contested three major national elections: 2005 Presidential Election as a Presidential Candidate; 2011 Presidential Election as a Vice Presidential Candidate; and 2014 Senatorial Election as a Candidate. In 2005, according to the National Elections Commission (NEC), I won the first round with almost 30% of the total votes cast. However, empirical analysis from election monitors suggested that my percentile exceeded the 50% threshold. These two accounts remain a debated subject to this day. Nonetheless, I accepted the proclaimed results peacefully, participated in the runoff and was unsuccessful. In 2011, as the Vice Running Mate to Cllr. Winston Tubman, the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) again qualified for the runoff elections with the ruling party. However, due to voting irregularities in the first round, we did not participate in the runoff thus giving the Unity Party a free ride to victory.
In 2014, I was overwhelmingly elected Senator of Montserrado County (with nearly 80% of the total votes cast), despite being contested by eleven (11) candidates, including the son of the president, Mr. Robert Sirleaf. As your Senator, my legislative agenda is on forming alliances, advocating budgetary increment for Health, Education, Infrastructure, Defense and Sports. Also high on my agenda, is the privatization of the Nation’s service delivery sectors, accountability in the management of public resources, and improving the welfare of our citizens. In addition to my national responsibilities, I successfully negotiated as Head of Liberia’s Parliamentarians within the ECOWAS Parliament, Third Deputy Speaker position for our country and promote unity and harmony amongst members of the Liberian Delegation despite our different political affiliations.
On October 10, 2017 Liberians will go to the Pools to elect their President, Vice President, and Coun- ty Representatives. I am pleased and humbled to lead the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Team of outstanding men and women during these elections. As I travel across the fifteen (15) counties of our dear country, I see the eagerness for HOPE written all over the faces of our ordinary people, who during these last twelve years of the present Administration, have been resilient and have survived under the weight of abject poverty. Despite many promises made by the present Government, we painfully continue to see:
- Our little girls still being denied formal education and life sustaining skills leaving them with no alternative but to turn to the streets and exchange their dignity and innocence to survive;
School aged boys and girls selling between traffic lanes during school hours, while others are made into domestic slaves – sadly, recreation remains a dream for many children;
- One of our biggest assets – our young adults and potential future leaders unemployed and to plead their case, have become self-imposed political commentators, spending days after days at local hatai shops, while others turned to drugs to forget their impoverished living conditions in a country of plenty;
- Large pool of neglected senior and physically challenged citizens roaming our streets just for their livelihood with many turned into street beggars carrying with them babies and children all day;
- An gap in the role being played between our women and our men in the social, economic and political landscape;
Hospitals and health centers lacking the basic required services, staff and equipment to adequately provide the standard of care leaving our citizens who cannot afford to travel abroad for medical attention in the hands of death and the state of hopelessness;
- A working environment in which Liberian workers’ employment rights, privileges and welfare are left unprotected in their own country, whilst those of non-Liberian workers fully protected and prioritized in the allocation of managerial positions in major private companies.;
- Competitive sporting activities abandoned or at best not supported, despite sport being one of the most powerful developmental and unifying Instruments of any nation, trans- forming the livelihood of many underprivileged people and their families;
- Corruption entrenched deeply into the fabric of our society as a public menace eating away at the little economic gains we have made, undermining our development efforts, and threatening the security of our country and the future of our children.
My Fellow Citizens
Liberians are barely surviving: this cancerous tumor called corruption has been fed to our nation for centuries and has continued under the Unity Party (UP) led government over the past 12 years; reversing economics gains achieved, triggering health care and education disaster, social instability and food insecurity. Therapy must start now! Africa’s oldest independent country must start living.
I have always fought for my people and will not stop doing so today, tomorrow and will continue into the future. Serving Liberia is an intrinsic characteristic of my existence; from living with friends in poor communities, to football and now politics, my love for country and people remains relent- less. As your president, and with the Grace of our Creator, the Almighty God, I will make sure, to the best of my ability, for my people to stop surviving and to start living.
Change Must Come and Hope Must be Restored!
My Team and I will fight for the desired change; this is our Pledge to and commitment with the Liberian people and nation. Outlined in this Manifesto is our Agenda to bring a stop to the surviving struggle and to lay a sound foundation to start better living conditions for our people. This agenda for Hope will steer a new Liberia where all of its children will be adequately prepared for a brighter future. A Liberia where the adherence to the rule of law will be that link that binds us together as a people and a nation.
A Liberia, where our counties will become vibrant and places to go for work and play instead of constantly running to neighboring countries. A Liberia, where the national budget will substantially fund local development initiatives instead of incurring outrageous recurrent expenditures. A Liberia that will bring pride to all of us. I call on the electorates and well-meaning Liberians to join me and my Team in making this noble vision a reality.
Vote for Change and better lives for our people.
Thank you sincerely, and may the Almighty save our Mother Land.
Senator George Manneh Weah
Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)
Table of Contents
My Vision for Liberia………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………6
Cries of MAMA Liberia……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………10
Coalition for Democratic Change………………………………………………………………………………………………………11
Senator George M. Weah………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….12
Sen. Jewel Howard-Taylor………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..13
CDC Four Pillars for Hope………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..14
CDC Agenda for Hope………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………15
Power to the People (Pillar One)………………………………………………………………………………………………………..16
Economy and Jobs (Pillar Two)…………………………………………………………………………………………………………24
Sustaining the Peace (Pillar Three)…………………………………………………………………………………………………….31
Governance and Transparency…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..36
It is time for change; A change that will move Liberia from a low to a middle income country, where the affordability of basic goods and services will no longer be a luxury accessible to the privileged, but rather a right for all Liberians; where the practice of corruption, injustice, resource, mismanagement and low performance will have no place in our society; and where Our resources will develop people, infrastructure and institution.
WHEREAS, The Republic of Liberia is 170 years, being the first independent state on the continent of Africa, having existed peacefully since its independence in 1847, which peace was interrupted in 1980 by a military coup, ending 133 years of one party rule without commensurate development, followed by 14 years of devastating civil war rendering it barely short of a failed state, thanks to the timely interventions of ECOWAS, African Union, the United Nations, The European Union, the United States of America, China and several other friendly nations;
WHEREAS, the consequences of those conflicts on the well-being of the State and her people were so far reaching, that recovery has remained elusive, in spite of two successive civilian democratic governments and a number of transitional governments;
WHEREAS, assurances for healing and national renewal have only been in words and not deeds, particularly for the recent past 11 years, where opportunities from nations of the world and philan- thropic organizations sympathetic to the Liberian cause provided resources in significant sums for varying purposes, yet without meaningful effects;
WHEREAS, the general living condition of our people insofar as the basic necessities for their betterment are concern, in respect of roads, access to electricity and water, sound healthcare and education or the affordability thereof, remained a distant thought, while the commitment to those effects remained only in words by a Government whose aggregate tenures of twelve years ends in barely six (6) months;
WHEREAS, every Liberian is endowed with inalienable rights; the rights to Life and Liberty, rights of association and of expression, rights to opportunities, creation of wealth and the pursuit of happiness, and the right to exercise all such rights without regard for creed, color, gender, religion, geography, status, insofar as these are undertaken within the confines of the Laws of the Republic of Liberia;
WHEREAS, every Liberian Man, Woman and Child shall have the right to be emancipated and em- powered economically, politically, socially and otherwise, and cognizant that all shall enjoy the rights of access to affordable healthcare, education, security, employment, etc.;
WHEREAS, CORRUPTION has, overwhelmed the entire population represented by the wanton dis- regard for the property of others including the state, and the disregard for the rights of others in motor ways and market places, and disappointed that enforceable remedies are not in immediate sight;
WHEREAS, the disparity in wages and remunerations in the Public Sector being so grossly vast, demanding significant amounts of limited resources for the few enrichment at the expense of the majority, which violates the norms of equity and makes no economic sense in a poor, backward and underdeveloped country as ours, where roads, public utilities, systems of education and health delivery remain a luxury for the majority;
REALIZING that the Liberian People, foreign residents and friends of Liberia continue to wait patiently for a Change that transcends words into works for the betterment of all, and in consideration of these;
WE, the Partisans and people of conscience of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Partisans of the National Patriotic Party (NPP), The Liberia People Democratic Party (LPDP) and the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), having successfully completed the processes for the formulation of this Coalition for the purpose of participating in the Presidential and Legislative elections scheduled for October 2017, do hereby CONFIRM to our partisans and Liberians of other political persuasions,
that we are committed to maintaining the Unity of this Coalition and thereupon pursue and realize the purposes for which we formed and styled ourselves as a Coalition so named.
WHEREAS, the three constituent Parties mentioned supra, having been certificated on Thursday December 19, 2016 as a Coalition by the National Elections Commission, reaffirm to themselves and their followings that, “NO MATTER WHAT, THE UNITY OF THE COALITION SHALL REMAIN UNTEMPARED” and by this act, this NEW POLITICAL ENTITY shall uphold the foundation of its formation, RESPECT and TRUST.
MOTIVATED by the commitment TO GOVERN a Country in so great a need of Passionate Leaders, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) assures all Liberians, that subordinating our individual ambitions in the greater interest of our common patrimony, we, Liberians have the capacity to unite around a common theme, and together pursue a common goal necessary for transitioning our country from a place of underdevelopment to a stronger position the on the world stage, where all Liberians, regardless of geography, religion, political persuasion, education, economic and social standing, young and old, all and sundry shall enjoy without hindrance (to) their inalienable rights, exercisable under the Law, to share in the opportunities naturally endowed to, or secured otherwise for and on behalf of this Country and its people. For this cause the leaders of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) HAVE, by this very act, truthfully committed themselves to the success of this partnership geared towards wining and governing the State with a productive agenda not recorded in the recent past history of the country, and probably not since the 1970s.
WHEREAS, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) realizing that Hope is the greatest ingredient in the recipe for sustaining Life and the pursuance of matters that guarantee the realization of that hope in the life of the individual, we the Coalition for Democratic Change, motivated by the desire to WIN the Elections of 2017 and thereupon GOVERN the Republic of Liberia for the greatest good of all Liberians and residents of Liberia, and being convinced that life without hope is meaningless and that whosoever losses such hope also losses life.
REALIZING that Knowledge and Skills are key for service delivery, yet without the Passion (Will) for service, knowledge alone is meaningless, the Coalition shall put in place a governance infrastructure taking due notice of the both Capacity and Will of participants, to ensure that public service in the governing framework is undertaken with utmost conviction, resolve and results.
NOW THEREFORE, We, The Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) pledge to all Liberians and Residents of Liberia, International Community and the Like, that we shall uphold the Constitution of the Republic, and shall reserve Respect for the Rule of Law and all International Treaties and Conventions to which Liberia has acceded, and above all, we pledge to fulfill our commitments to the People of Liberia, NO MATTER WHAT. To that effect, the Platform for OUR PEOPLE TO STOP SURVIVING AND START LIVING (Transforming the Republic of Liberia) as the Rule of Thumb for a Government under the Stewardship of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) is herewith proffered.
Liberia is located on the West African coast and borders the Atlantic Ocean to the South, Guinea to the North, Sierra Leone to the Northwest and Ivory Coast to the East. It has an area of approximately 111,370 square km (43,000 square mi) of which 96,300 sq km (37,190 sq mi) is land and 15,000 sq km (5,810 sq mi) is water. Liberia consists of 15 counties; Monrovia, the capital is in Montserrado County.
In 1822 freed slaves from the United States of America joined a group of approximately 20 different tribes living in the land called Liberia today. Since its inception there were major discrepancies between the Americo-Liberians “founders” and the Tribal natives, resulting in a class struggle and system, with the former rising as the masters and the later marginalized and excluded from the social, political and economic activities of the country. This led to increased tensions between the two groups; which finally erupted in 1980 with a military coup. This however did not change the situation as the installed government failed to reconcile and harmonize the interest of the two groups leading to higher tension that in turn gave rise to the 1989 Liberia Civil War, that brought massive deaths and destruction of Liberia. Finally, in 2005, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected president and has since rule for two consecutive terms of six (6) years each.
All these years our people have been crying to get out of poverty and to start living better lives. The more they cry, the more difficult life becomes for the majority. Our people throughout the country have expressed, in many different ways, their dreams and desires; we hear their cries loudly and understand their desires. Our people want a large pool of skilled Liberians, competitive and result-oriented. Our people want the roots of under-performance, corruption and resource mismanagement practices in the public sector up-rooted and destroyed. Our people desire major trunk highways, farm-to-market roads, ample power and water distribution within their communities. Our people dream of a decentralized system of governance and development responsibilities shared amongst and within the counties of Liberia. Our people are crying and yearning for their lives to be better and for a brighter future. Join us to respond to the cries of Mama Liberia and her children.
On December 28, 2016, Senator George M. Weah was elected Standard Bearer of the Coalition. During his acceptance speech, Sen. Weah selected and presented Hon. Jewel Howard-Taylor, Senator of Liberia’s third most populous county, Bong, as his running mate.
Standard Bearer Senator George Manneh Weah
Born October 1, 1966 and raised by his grandmother in the ghetto of Gibraltar, one of Liberia’s poor- est slums, Sen. George Weah remarkably defied the odds; he refused to allow his impoverished environment to suppress his dreams to have a better life for his family and himself. His natural talent in football was his ticket out of poverty. He optimized this opportunities and by 1995, King George as he’s known had won all the accolades world football had to offer any-one playing the sport at the time: Africa Best, Europe Best, World Best, Balion d’OR, and FIFA Best Footballer of the Year. He became the inspirational leader of the Liberian Lone Star, at times using his personal resources to bring victory and pride to our nation and its peoples. After retiring from football (2003), in order to be better prepared to serve his people, he returned to formal education, and acquired a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration (BA) and a Master of Arts in Public Administration (MPA) from Devry University in Florida, USA.
His love for country, patriotism and quest to redeem the impoverished, naturally drew him into politics as his next career. Senator Weah became the Political Leader for the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) in 2004 and has since participated in two consecutive presidential elections, 2005 and 2011, as Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidate respectively. He served as UNICEF Good- will Ambassador with much of his work devoted to the disarmament of child soldiers that participated in the Liberian civil conflict, and in the overall peace building process. His philanthropic work across the country is exceptional, with market women, children from poor homes, local sporting clubs, and churches benefiting.
In 2014, during the country’s first national mid-term Special Senatorial Elections (since the 1986 Constitution), he set a record of the highest percentage of votes attained by any single senatorial candidate in Liberia’s fifteen counties, by winning the Montserrado County with nearly 80%. Presently, our Standard Bearer chairs the Liberian Senate Committee on Youth and Sports and the Montserrado County Legislative Caucus, and is head of Delegation for Liberia’s Parliamentarians to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament. In December 2016 Sen. George M. Weah became the Standard Bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). His commitment to succeed at the things he sets him mind to, is the strength he brings to the Liberian Nation.
Senator Chief Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor, Senior Senator of Bong County and Former First Lady of the Republic of Liberia is a graduate of the University of Liberia with a degree in Economics; a Master’s degree in Banking from the American Institute of Banking (Honors Graduate); an MBA with a concentration in Finance from Cuttington University (Honors Graduate); a Degree in Law from the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law (Honors Graduate), University of Liberia; an Honorary Doctoral De- gree in Leadership Management from the St Clements University(Australia); and recently completed studies at the Gabriel S. Dennis Foreign Service Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Liberia).
She was appointed President of the Agriculture Cooperative Bank in 1996 and appointed in 1997 as Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Liberia, which is now the Central Bank of Liberia.
Senator Chief Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor is a very active stateswoman; with a vision to working to ensure changes in the Nation’s Educational, Healthcare and Empowerment Sectors, especially as it relates to women. Senator Chief Jewel Howard-Taylor has been a critical voice on many issues; and continues to have great impact, thru her advocacy and initiatives, on her constituents, the general public and the Nation at large by her objective representation, positive contributions, and stance on national issues and discussions.
She has served in many capacities and currently is a senior, ranking member of the Liberian Senate serving on several strategic committees including:
- Chairperson, Women Legislative Caucus of Liberia,
- Chairperson, Education and Public Administration, with oversight key government Institutions like the Ministry of Education, Liberia Institute of Public Administration, University of Liberia, Commission on Higher Education and other government own educational institutions
She is a critical and consistent voice of advocacy for women and marginalized groups; and brings that unwavering commitment to the team.
OUR AGENDA FOR HOPE
We are guided by the principle that government must provide equal opportunities for all its citizens. Our government will promote a governance process predicated upon a sustainable people-cen-tered development process. To achieve our Change for Hope Agenda, the CDC led Government will focus on four (4) inter-connected pillars:
- Power to the People (Education and training, Health and Sanitation, Gender Equality, Youth Reorientation and Empowerment, Our Physically Challenged and Senior Citizens);
- Economy and Jobs (Sustained Economic Growth, Agriculture and Forestry, Infrastructure Development);
- Sustaining the Peace (Human Rights, Reconciliation and Security and National Defense);
- Governance and Transparency (Decentralization of Institution and Systems, Accountability and Anti-Corruption, Foreign Policy and Diplomatic Relations)
PILLAR 1: POWER TO THE PEOPLE:
Liberia’s education system, once envied by its neighbors for quality and affordability, is in free fall. The country’s civil war that lasted 14 years reversed the accomplishments of this all important development sector. The current government’s effort to resuscitate the sector have yielded poor results as confirmed by Madam President when she confessed openly that our education sector under her stewardship is “a mess.” We believe that the provision of quality, targeted and affordable education for our future leaders and workforce shall in the long run pull our people out of the survival state to the state of living better lives.
The poor status of pre-school, primary, elementary, secondary and higher school facilities; unqualified school administrators and teachers; untargeted curriculum for effective participation in the job market, and corruption within private and public school systems must all be reversed. According to the 2013 Liberia Constraints Analysis Report, firms operating in Liberia complain that their skills demand cannot be met locally, consequently some are bypassing this constraint by importing skilled labor.
We know that every child, no matter the family status, should have access to a quality education, from preschool through high school and beyond. A strong public education and training system is an anchor and propeller for our development. It is the vehicle through which dreams can be achieved.
The constraint has been the lack affordability of many of our families to support their children through school. If what is being done by the present government is to continue during the next six years, we would not only kill our children’s dreams but would also cancel a promising future for our Mother Land. For the Coalition the lack of resources, nor the cost of getting the required knowledge and employable skills for moving out of poverty into living a better life, should not and will not be the obstacle for our children’s future. The CDC led Government will address this by focusing on the following key interventions:
- Double efforts and resources to reinforce and implement the current national compulsory free education policy and Act; revamp the National Scholarship Program for effectiveness and relevance for development;· Reintroduce and expand the school feeding program in public schools;
- Absorb the West African Examination Council (WAEC) fees for all students sitting the exams.
- Provide adequate support and special attention to vulnerable students with a history of misconduct, learning and physical disabilities and their families to reduce and remove barriers to their full participation in the learning process;
- Review and reform school curriculum to address 21st century development and labor market needs with emphasis on science, technology, engineering, mathematics, language skills, and English competence;
- Prioritize Early Learning and adult illiteracy Programs in pre-schools and local communities;
- Revitalize and upgrade teaching and learning facilities and programs in existing technical education and vocational training institutions with well-equipped workshop and adequate and well-trained teachers and strategically have them located in the various counties in collaboration with private sector business establishments.
The health situation in Liberia is dire; the country has been prone to multiple health shocks, the worst in recent time being the 2014 Ebola outbreak that took thousands of lives. Malaria remains the highest killer of children under 10 years (according to the World Health Organization), healthcare facility infrastructure is outdated with inadequate or no equipment, to name but a few. Instead of reforming and modernizing this essential sector, the current government has turned to its neighbors, India and the West for treatment, tragically, leaving those who can’t afford overseas treatment to die from preventable and easily curable diseases.
This must change! The CDC government will promote the prevention of non-communicable dis-ease programs, modernize health infrastructure, introduce health care subsidiary program for the impoverished, ensure clinicians undergo continuous medical education to be able to practice, and create performance based incentives for healthcare workers.
Besides the poor health system, our people’s well-being is challenged by unhealthy sanitation environments in dwelling and market places. Infection control measures, water and sanitation infrastructure need to be strengthened especially in rural Liberia to ensure quality healthcare and patient safety for our people. The CDC led Government shall:
- Enact legislation to establish a functioning health subsidy program for our citizens below the poverty line, and to prioritize adolescent female health and non-communicable disease in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.(SDBs);
- Establish a functional emergency medical service including referral system between primary, secondary and tertiary care, and ensure adequate supply chain of medicines, equipment and laboratory facilities in county hospitals;
- Strengthen Emergency Preparedness and Response mechanisms and institutions (to prevent amongst other diseases, further Ebola outbreaks);
- Improve childhood preventable disease vaccination coverage;
- Support health professionals’ in-service training and career advances with an appropriate scheme of remuneration and benefits payment for healthcare workers based on performance and places of assignment.
In Liberia, women are an integral part of the economy. They make up the largest proportion of our farming population and are the backbone of commercial activities throughout the country. In many cases our women are the heads of home and are the ones whose supervise activities while their men are out all day fishing to provide for the family. Despite these responsibilities, their potential role in public services over the years has been sidelined. This neglect cannot continue. The CDC is fully aware that the protection and advancement of women and girls rights are crucial to the development of a nation. Their relevance, numerical strength and their multiplier effects to sustain growth and development can not be disputed. Our Vice Standard Bearer is a leading voice for the provision of equal opportunities for both men and women at the work place and for girls and boys at learning places. Liberian women and girls deserve recognition of their roles in our society; and a CDC led Government is not only committed to closing the current gender inequality gap, but also to putting an end to violence against women through the following key measures:
- Review existing gender policies and strengthen where needed to ensure gender equality in public and private sectors employment positions and benefits and to enhance women full involvement and effective participation in the political governance process;
- Establish in communities within various counties a viable adult literacy program for rural farming and market women to empower them with reading and writing skills that would enable these women become more effective in managing their trades;
- Continue to support and strengthen existing acts and regulations on Violence Against Women building law enforcement capacities to combat this scourge and providing support legal and counselling services to victims.
Liberia population is predominantly youth bringing with it an energetic, ambitious and innovative sector to accelerate our national development process. Approximately sixty five (65 %) of the estimated 4 million plus Liberians are youth below the age of 35 years. Though the youth experienced the greatest setbacks in their educational pursuit from the civil war the UP led government has been unable to incorporate this reservoir of potential ingredient into Liberia’s development process. The continuous neglect of the youthful population poses a clear risk to the future stability and prosperity of our country.
Liberians who were infants in the early 1990’s, for the most part of their “growing up”, were denied useful training to face prevailing challenges when reaching age 20. If they are left in their present state of deprivation, meeting tomorrow’s life challenges would be more difficult and unpleasant not only for the 1990 one-year-olds, but also for the many Liberians that were between the ages of 2-10 years and had to fend for themselves during the civil conflict years and the few years following the conflict.
As a result of governmental and institutional incapacities together with the destructive nature of the civil conflict, today’s Liberia is inhabited by three clusters of young boys and girls, all looking forward to a brighter future that would transform them into vibrant adults. One group is well on its way towards securing a brighter tomorrow. Members of this group are developing their minds and shaping their attitudes in good schools and learning centers both in Liberia and in foreign lands. These children belong to Liberian parents who can afford good schooling in and out of Liberia. A second group is “zooming” thorough ill-prepared and ill-equipped schools and training institutions that are operating throughout Liberia. Members of this group struggle day in and day out forging through some schooling hoping to find a useful place in tomorrow’s Liberia. Some would make it; some would struggle along and some would drop off the Clift into the army of un-employed youth in the face of mounting challenges. The third group contains an army of un-employed out-of-school and street youths. By the looks in their eyes and the unspoken words from their unopened lips, this third group has given up hope. What is most disturbing is that members of this group are beginning to entertain the mental conviction that Liberia does not see how they live, does not hear their silent cries and does not care for their tomorrow. Members of this group roam the streets and villages aimlessly seeing no future on life’s horizon. They have all the reasons to hope for the night to arrive, after an uneventful day, so that they would sleep in the unconscious darkness when their thoughts, hunger and poor health are temporarily suppressed.
Sadly, the Unity Party led government allows the rank of this group of unfortunate youths to grow by the day, particularly in Liberia’s urban cities, turning to drugs and petty crimes for survival. Their participation rate in the economy will continue to decline as they do not have the level and kind of skills required in today and tomorrow job markets. There is no doubt that the success of any effort designed to transform people’s lives and perceptions is opportunity.
Opportunity births hope, and hope births confidence, which motivates and inspires people to per-severe, to overcome and to move on to greater heights. A CDC led Government will focus attention on the last two groups of youths during its first term in office. The challenge is truly great, but we believe this is the right action to take for ensuring a better and brighter future for our people and country. We shall devote ample resources to the following interventions:
- Design and execute a strong reputable national inter-school competition agenda respectively at primary, junior and senior high school and university levels focused around each of the following clusters: (a) SPORTS: (kickball, basketball, athletes, football, volleyball, boxing, tennis, trick drilling) and (b) ENTERTAINMENT: (traditional and non-traditional music, cultural troupe, drama, and debate);
- Design and execute a well-structured occupational skill-determination program focusing on re-orienting and refocusing the minds and attitudes of at least 250,000 street and out-of-school youths over a five year period to support the restoration of hope; refine their character and values and prepare them adequately for further education and training;
- Establish and operate, in partnership with national and international enterprises, a comprehensive integrated Sports and Academic Academy to be located in one of Liberia’s least developed Counties to strengthen Liberia’s participation in national and international sporting competitions.
We strongly believe in a just Liberian society that provides equal opportunity for all its people including our physically challenged brothers and sisters. People with disabilities do not have access to institutions that provide adequate social services to them in Liberia, and as such they face a lot of disadvantages and marginalization in many sectors of the Liberian society. Our physically challenged brothers and sisters must go beyond mire survival and start living better lives as desired of all other Liberians. What is regrettable is that the vast reservoir of potentials and talents that exist amongst physically challenged Liberian men and women, girls and boys are yet to be tapped as a way of strengthening our democracy and national development. Equally a large pool of neglected physically challenged citizens continued to roam the streets of towns and cities as beggars for their livelihood. As a commitment, the CDC led Government will ensure that the nation’s growth and prosperity do not benefit only a select group but all Liberians. In this regard, the following key measures shall be taken to better capacitate and integrate our physically challenged and senior citizens:
- Strengthen the National Commission on Disability to enable it provide efficient services to people with disabilities in our communities, schools, universities, markets and work places
- Work in partnership with the private sector to ensure appropriate infrastructure in public places that will accommodate the special needs of our physically challenged brothers and sisters in transacting their daily enterprises.
- Initiate and pursue the establishment of at least two functioning Mental Health Centers where patient’s rehabilitation treatment can be undertaken and their improvement progress monitored.
- Ensure the provision of free medical service and recreation centers for senior citizens beyond the age of 70 years
- Strengthen education, training and equal employment opportunity policies, programs and processes where they exist for persons living with disabilities, and or create the relevant framework and legislation to grant them their rights and entitlements.
PILLAR 2 : ECONOMY AND JOBS
The country is clearly not working; results of the UP government’s mismanagement of the economy have worsening living conditions and economic circumstances for many Liberians. The inflow of US$16 billion foreign investment has not had the desired impact on the lives of most Liberians, but a small group of friends and family surrounding the President. The Unity Party led Government has pursued uncoordinated economic policies that have created distortions in our economy and misguided our resource management system. An alternative approach to achieving a sustainable economic growth is required.
We believe that a diversified economy is the smarter way for stimulating and sustaining growth in the Liberian economy. Given that the country’s extractive industry is on the decline and what is left requires huge investment to keep production going, the CDC led Government shall diversify the national economic structures and sectors. We also believe that the responsibility for securing a vibrant economy in any country rests first and foremost with its men, women and children; hence, we shall formulate and manage practical policies and programs that will build a stronger and resilient economy on a sustained basis with the total involvement and participation of all our people.
As a policy agenda, new and bold approaches, strategies and policies are required to bring about the necessary shifts in employment patterns; diversified production and manufacturing oriented economy by reducing the cost of doing business, government borrowing, and interest rates as well as add values to our raw material in a process of rapid industrialization.
The CDC led Government pledge to our people is to build a business-friendly, people-centered and private sector driven economy in the sub-region. We will ensure that growth is socially responsible, diversified, spread geographically, comes from genuine value addition and environmentally sensitive through private sector empowerment with a goal to achieve double digit GDP growth annually on a sustained basis. To accomplish this, we commit our administration to formulate and pursue sound policies built around monetary and fiscal discipline and macroeconomic stability by pursuing the following interventions:
- Stabilize the rapidly declining value of the Liberian dollar by reducing export shocks and the weekly rising of basic commodity prices by stabilizing the currency exchange rate for the longer-term through prudent and disciplined macroeconomic management resulting in an increase in domestic production and exports;
- Develop and implement strategic manufacturing and industrial policies and action plans to invest in rural, coastal, and inner city communities that would consolidate the foundation for a diversified, productive and sustained economy;
- Undertake financial sector reform to deepen financial markets, promote financial inclusion, enhance regulation of the financial institutions and shift the country’s payment system away from a predominantly cash towards an electronic payments system;
- Reform business legislation thus eliminating red tape process;
- Introduce non-discriminatory loan and grant facility to support Liberian-owned businesses to grow and to open up new national income generating business sectors such as tourism, food processing and national airlines;
- Develop and enforce an effective Liberianization program in accordance with a “local con-tent policy” to be formulated during the first year in office, that would specify a minimum rate for Liberians equity share participation in foreign owned businesses with concessionary agreements, and the involvement threshold for Liberians in the procurement of public goods and services;
- Encourage and facilitate equity-based public-private partnership business arrangements for the identification, financing, and management of large business entities that are crucial to the growth and development of Liberia;
- Strengthen the current legal and fiscal regulations to improve government support services for both local and foreign investors in starting and/or operating their businesses, and to ensure efficiency in the collection of government revenue.
2. Agriculture and Forestry
A sustainable productive agriculture sector will not only provide jobs for our people, but will also reduce food insecurity. In addition, a vibrant and productive agriculture sector will increase household incomes that translates into higher living standards and better livelihoods for our people. Increased food production and food security will decrease food imported into the county which today is largely responsible for our depleted foreign currency reserves. Homegrown items will be lower priced, while providing sustainable livelihood for the more than 80% of the population that depend on agriculture for their livelihood.
The encouraging news is that Liberia’s tropical climatic condition of six months of rain and six months of sun, favors agriculture production. It is therefore disappointing that the Unity Party led government has turned its back on the agriculture sector; with the average annual funding allocation of only 5 % of the national budget, despite the many comparative advantages of the sector to pull our people out of poverty.
In its first term, the CDC Government will double the present share of agriculture in the national budget. This will be complemented by designing strategic campaigns to mobilize resources from our International Partners to fill the gap required for developing agriculture, with emphasis on food production, preservation and distribution in the interest of farmers and their communities. Regulations will be put in placed to govern personally owned farms without undue interference into the affairs of the families to whom the properties are entrusted. There are unresolved issues that continue to retard the development of this sector such as migration of assignee, death or abandonment. Currently, the practice is for the developed property to return to the Government and then they are reallocated to another community resident through and arrangement amongst the local leadership and the Ministry of Agriculture.
However, while in active occupancy, all food crops and proceeds from sales thereof shall be for the exclusive benefit of the small holder and for the support of their respective families. If done properly with adequate oversight, the above action shall be a major job creator, while supporting forest conservation and protection of the natural habitat. Approaches in cases like these would need to be reviewed and if necessary revised. The Natural Forest is the security against unwanted ecological changes and climatic upsets. The management of the forest has missed opportunity to secure maximum returns to the nation as a major income source. Going forward, a conscious policy enforceable by law shall be put in place to advance the creation of jobs and development of skill beyond the harvest and export of unprocessed wood.
The CDC led Government shall ensure protection of forest resources; while beneficially extracting from its rich reserves for the good of the economy, and creations of jobs, care must be taken to ensure reforestation becomes key for the security of future generations. Without much debate, Liberia still remains a place of abundance of rain and natural water sources. On that premise, the CDC led Government shall focus on the following interventions:
Ensure the speedy passage and full implementation of the Land Rights Act, and strengthen the Land Commission to carry out its work effectively;
Technical, financial and mechanical support to farmers for the development of low agricultural land and swamp land within targeted communities across the country for the production of rice and vegetable;
Formulate and pursue policies on processing of raw material into agriculture products such as Oil Palm, Mango, Cassava, and other similar products;
Formulate policies to minimize the export of raw wood and implement policies to enhance local production and processing of wood and to fully exploit the world market demand for quality wood products at affordable prices;
Public Extension Workers programs to assist small and medium famers shall be revisited with the intent to adopt new policies, programs and structures to meet present day realities and challenges to ensure efficiency and greater yields;
Encourage farmers to use simple machines to maximize yields and form stronger cooperatives and cross-national partnerships to build stronger capacities and to benefit from investments made in seed development research and regional agriculture integration pro-grams within the West African region;
Establish an Agriculture Bank dedicated to providing loans, grants and equity participation in the agro-
3. Infrastructure Development
Post-war infrastructure slow recovery remains a major challenge for our development agenda and poverty reduction strategies; vital development drivers such as transport, electricity, sanitation and water are far from being fully restored. Little has been done to rehabilitate these sectors. The CDC led Government will build on the little gains made by this administration to modernize Liberia’s infrastructures.
Public investment in constructing first class road network, and full availability of affordable public utilities (Electricity, Water, and Telecommunication) are critical for stimulating private sector initiatives and our national development agenda. While there is significant private investment in the telecommunications sector, the absence of roads, affordable electricity and water, makes the task of decentralization and that of getting our people to stop surviving and to start living very challenging.
The CDC led Government shall prioritize the development of these public infrastructure projects. This will support job creation in the construction industry and jump-start our decentralization agenda in an effective way. Viable road connectivities will expand commerce and industry across the country. We subscribe to the belief that the private sector is the engine of economic growth and job creation, which in turn creates a strong middle class. Hence, an agenda that enable Liberians dream to be realizable. While it is true that Liberia is a small country, but also is the population, and from all indications the resources of this country far outweighs that population. But for the poor management preferences, many Liberians would have remained at Home. This too must stop. The CDC led Government shall undertake the following in support of its infrastructure agenda:
Policies and measure put in place to expand and ensure affordable and accessible electricity supply for our people;
Prioritize resources allocation to ensure passable farm-to-market roads from agriculture rich counties will directly connect with major trunk roads linking the heavily populated cities of Liberia;
Policies and measure put in place to improve current air, road, and sea transportation systems within the country;
Review, and if necessary, reform of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation to ensure that the services and quality water reach to as many Liberians as possible and to ensure cost-effectiveness in its operations.
PILLAR 3 : SUSTAINING THE PEACE
1. Justice and Human Rights
The CDC Agenda for Prosperity can only be achieved in an environment where crimes are kept under control and human safety and security are prioritized. The peace and stability over the last 15 years was in large due to the presence of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The Unity Party led government has failed to deal effectively with people caught in corrupt practices, lawlessness, and indiscipline that have plagued our society. The separation of power among the three branches of government with each performing its constitution role is one of the unique tenets of a vibrant democracy. Regrettably, the Executive Branch under the Unity Party led government is in violation of this democratic virtue by acting supreme over the other two branches. This must change! The CDC led Government will ensure the three branches of government, Executive, Legislative and Judiciary, operate independently to ensure the checks and balances within government as was intended in our Constitution.
In spite of large expenditures made to establish and sustain Anti-Graft Institutions, the issues of greed and wanton dishonesty continue to overtake the conduct of affairs of our country in both the Private and Public sectors. This too has to Stop! The hand of Justice needs to be strengthened to dispense justice timely in accordance with our laws without fear or favor. The CDC led Government shall uphold the constitution of the Republic of Liberia, defend and enforce the fundamental human rights, and abide by the rule of law through the following interventions:
Review and strengthen the Judiciary System ensuring that only men and women of proven integrity with requisite professional qualification are appointed to serve with the current team undergoing a series of orientation and capacity building programs to ensure and guarantee quick and fair dispensation of justice;
Design and put in place a functioning judicial information system to be accessible by both legal practitioners and the general public;
Enhance the capacities of the judicial system, through the creation of additional courts outside of the capital, improvement of prison facilities and conditions, adjustment in the working conditions and remunerations of judicial and legal workers;
Strengthen the National Commission on Human Rights with the intent to enhancing its operational capacity.
While it is true, Liberia has enjoyed more than 12 years of peace and stability under this administration, political and developmental pundits believe that our hard won peace can only be sustained when the nation is reconciled within itself and amongst its peoples. As we stand today, our dear nation remains divided with a possibility of slipping back into crisis. Politicians have found new geo-political boundaries among counties, youths are isolated from gainful employment, local village land has become concessionary properties, tribal land disputes continue, females are forced to take a back seat in both the public and private sectors. We believe that these inconsistent anomalies are recipes for future conflicts if not properly brought to order. The Coalition for Democratic Change embraces reconciliation as an indispensable part of our, “Agenda for Prosperity”. Not only does it include measures to ensure justice, fairness and an inclusive political and socio-economic framework, it places high on the agenda the imperative need for reconciliation. The CDC led Government is committed to undertake the following interventions:
Organize in various counties “Pavala Hut” peace initiative meetings involving youths, elders, and women groups to reconcile our people and nation and bring to a logical conclusion the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report and any outstanding issues over the con-go-native and native-native divisive rhetoric often promoted by few persons at the detriment of our nation’s progress ;
Create an inclusive government and employment opportunities, not based on the common practice of winner takes all, but taking into account relevant competences, honesty and commitment levels to serve our people.
3. Security and National DefenseThe CDC Agenda for Hope can only be achieved in an environment where crimes are kept under control and human safety and security are prioritized. The peace and stability over the last 15 years was in large due to the presence of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). Although, respon-sibility of the sector operations has been turned over to Liberia, experts agree that the sector is frag-ile. The ineffective police service has resulted in those officials presiding over our security sector to operate private security firms at heavy costs. The police, our first line of defense, has shown vulner-abilities in carrying out their duties: armed robbery, mob violence, rape and ritualistic killing are on the increase. This has resulted in a breach of confidence between the police and our communities. The security of lives and the safety of our people are at stake. Though our Army was professionally restructured, members are poorly paid and lacked the necessary support. This neglect must stop and our Armed Forces be made stronger! The CDC led Government will compliment and build on our international partners’ efforts to sustain a professional army and ensure a stronger community friendly and respectable police and security forces. We shall focus attention on making the army attractive for our youth to serve Liberia and participate in international peacekeeping missions. The CDC led Government shall accordingly embark on the following interventions:
Strengthen the technical and operational capacities of the National Police and public security agencies in our urban and rural cities through decentralization and the enactment of policies and programs that would ensure high standard of professionalism including continuous training, better condition of service packages, and a rigorous recruitment process into the system to increase security presence.;
Continue and improve upon the professional and operational development program of the Armed Forces of Liberia with focus on securing better equipment, strategic recruitment of new soldiers, and physical and skill training to adequately defend our borders and work with states within our sub-region in the fight against terrorism and the destabilization of constitutional governments.
PILLAR 4: GOVERNANCE AND TRANSPARENCY
1. Decentralization of Institutions and Systems
Decentralization is a potentially powerful tool to the acceleration of development and the reduction of poverty. First, it shall enhance the system of governance. Second, an effective decentralized governance framework would ensure that all of our peoples, irrespective of where you live within the country, have equal access to government services, physical infrastructure, and ample economic opportunities. Third, effective decentralization, as opposed to what the current Unity Party led government is tinkering with, shall ensure political stability, national unity, sustained growth and development. Convinced that the absolute Centralized Systems of Governance has not served the beneficial interest of our people, and given success stories from countries (Ethiopia, Ghana) with decentralized systems, the CDC led Government shall, in earnest, embark upon the process of full decentralization of all key institutional functions at a pace and manner commensurate with the logistics to do so effectively. Specifically, governing systems, and responsibilities shall be decentralized within three demarcated geo-politico regions, (Western, Central, and Eastern) given the relative small size of our population and the need for costs-effectiveness. We shall undertake the following interventions:
Initiate and execute a nation-wide consultation process, as a follow-up to what has been done in recent years, to seek guidance, suggestions and buy-in from our people on the extent and structures of a viable decentralized governing system;
Call for a national referendum and submit to the nation a comprehensive framework bill aimed at the decentralization of our governing institutions and systems that would ensure full participation of our peoples, national unity and sustained development;
Begin the implementation of the process to design the physical lay-out of the designated proclaimed city-area to host the new Capital City of Liberia, together with a road map for the relocation process and the development of the new Capital City
2. Accountability and Anti-Corruption
To better manage public resources, redistribute the fruits of our economic growth and hold government functionaries accountable for their action, good governance must be prioritized. As our economy to a large extent is dependent on foreign aid and foreign direct investment (FDI), prioritization of good governance will create the confidence required for private sector and international partners wishing to invest in Liberia. The culture of being accountable for resources and responsibilities given to people has falling flat in our country during the last two decades. This decline must be stopped and ways and means found to reverse the situation throughout our education, governing and business systems. In support to the bad culture of inadequate and poor accountability, is the twin evil of massive corruption in all sectors of our society
Under the Unity Party administration, though publicly announced as Liberia’s enemy number one, corruption practices and non-accountability in the use of public resources grew and consolidated within our economy and society. The establishment of transparency and accountability agencies – Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), General Auditing Commission (GAC), Public Procurement and Concession Commission, Governance Commission, and the Internal Audit Agency (IAA) – have failed to deal effectively with the issues of accountability and corruption that continue to suppress the development process of our dear Liberia. The consequences of the presence of this “vampire” as referenced by Madam President, are shown and felt in the uneven distribution of proceeds from our abundant natural resources, breakdown of civil and democratic values within our society, and stagnation of the nation’s socio-economic and political development efforts. We, the people of Liberia cannot and must not continue along this road if we want a Liberia to advance from a low to a middle income level with her peoples going along from survival to starting better living. The CDC led Government shall undertake the following intervention with the primary aim to reverse present trends in the miss-management and non-accountability of public resources and
Review structures, mandates and operations of the four major existing agencies with responsibilities for ensuring accountability and transparency and put in place capacity build-ing and the necessary reform measures with the aim to make them more effective and responsive to our people;
Review and build upon the current Code of Conduct for Public Officials together with the Assets Declaration Platform; and put in place an effective implementation authority and framework that would include provisions to, among things, guide selected public servants from engaging into conflict of interest activities and to hold officials liable to pay back loss-es incurred as result of their corrupt actions to the State;
Review mandates, structures, administrative procedures and staffing levels and requirements of current Ministries and Agencies and undertake necessary restructuring exercises with the aim to streamline overlapping functions and to make these public institutions efficient, effective and more accountable and responsive to our people;
Pursue without fear or favor legal actions against companies involved in bid rigging, price fixing and corrupt practices as well as those who embrace such practices in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Republic.
3. Foreign Policy and Diplomatic Relations
Liberia is the oldest independent country in Africa and the fact is that past governments and the Iberian people have contributed significantly to the liberation movement in many African countries. Our country have played major roles in the formation of several international institutions and organizations in the world. Liberia’s foreign policy has been firmly rooted over the years in its political ideology of liberalism and democracy. It is about time that we integrate development diplomacy into our foreign policy architecture.
This should be made a key element of Liberia’s foreign policy moving forward. A CDC led Government shall do what is required position Liberia to enhance our international participation and in-crease foreign direct inflows to supplement domestic resources for sustainable peace building and socio-economic renewal. We believe that the security, economic growth and sustained development of our country can be enhanced through effective foreign policies and effective diplomatic relations with other nations and organizations. We do reaffirm and commit the CDC led Government to sustain Liberia’s absolute adherence to the rules of international law, the principles of peaceful coexistence, non-interference in the internal affairs of other friendly nations, and the principles of mutual respect for the sovereign and equality of all States.There is an imperative need for reform in the structure, policy direction and strategic approaches of our nation’s foreign policy and diplomatic relations. What makes it so imperative is that the rapidly changing globalized and interdependent world puts greater demands on nations to move with the changes or remain irrelevant.
First, we must have the necessary capacities and strategies at home and within our missions abroad to ably deal with a changing international landscape given ongoing shifting of national and regional power centers and the multiplicity of actors brought about by more countries actively entering the global stage. Second, our foreign policy orientation must be rested on a firm re-commitment to the principles and ideals of the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Mano River Union (MRU). A proper balance should be struck in the pursuit of foreign policy objectives between bilateral and multilateral channel with a focus on development diplomacy at multilateral and bilateral levels.
The central objective of our foreign policy orientation is to secure our national interests by forging and maintaining closer and stronger ties of friendship and economic partnerships with our traditional allies and opening up new avenues of friendship and mutual solidarity with other States. The CDC led government will therefore work favorably with our bilateral and multilateral friends and be committed to all of its obligations and responsibilities assumed within regional and international organizations. Focus shall be placed on forging durable partnerships around the world, taking ad-vantage of a congruence of interests, where ever these are to be found. Accordingly, the following interventions shall be carried out during our administration:
Develop and maintain a cordial working relationship with the Foreign Affairs Committees of both houses of the legislature on matters related to the formulation and implementation of foreign policy and during the Foreign Service annual budget preparation debate;
Review the staffing, premises, and operations of our Diplomatic Missions abroad and put in place requisite diplomatic and consulate machinery, structures and approaches to effectively meet 21st century diplomatic challenges in line with the demands of a rapidly changing environment of world politics and international development goals;
Initiate and undertake measures that would ensure that our foreign policy agenda and its implementation are guided by the principles of good governance, i.e. transparency, accountability, participation and effective representation in Regional and International Organizations;
Establish strategic partnerships with countries that share mutual commitments towards and respect for the protection of human rights, democracy, and negotiate development oriented agreements particularly in the areas of trade and investment, technical assistance, technology transfer, and security.
This manifesto is our pledge to all Liberians surviving under the current administration that soon they will start living. Liberians will be central to the development process—not in words but in deeds. We will ensure that all levels of government implement this manifesto, and we will monitor its effectiveness.
In summary, jobs will be created on a sustainable basis in a flourishing economy that reduces our dependence on foreign aid and strengthens our agriculture. Education and affordable healthcare through public and private subsidization will be a reality. Crime and personal security issues will be markedly improved, and the justice system will be overhauled to restore people’s faith in government. Salary matrices will be revisited to ensure our workers receive sufficient compensation to cover their cost of living. Reconciliation at every level will be encouraged and promoted.
We invite you to be a part of the economic, political and social transformation of Liberia.
MUYAN!! CDC MUYAN!