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Unformatted text preview: Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol. 9, No. 1, Spring 2010 181 The Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Reconciling or Re-dividing Liberia? David Harris * & Richard Lappin ** Abstract After 14 years of civil war and violence followed by the momentous and rather unusual elections of 2005, in which a woman defeated a footballer for the presidency, Liberia has seen over six years of state reconstruction and relative peace. Two recent announcements have, however, served as a warning to the extent of progress. The most recent is President Ellen Johnson-Sirleafs declaration that she will, despite previous statements to the contrary, stand for re-election in 2011 due to shortcomings in progress. The announcement preceding Johnson- Sirleafs was made in the form of the report of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). It recommended that Johnson-Sirleaf, and indeed many others accused of involvement in the war, should be barred from public office for the next 30 years, and still more should stand trial on charges of war crimes. Four important questions arise. First, what was the mandate and findings of the TRC? Second, how has Liberia and the wider international community reacted to the final report? Third, has the TRC fulfilled its mandate and contributed to a process of reconciliation? Finally, and in a much broader sense, where does the TRC stand relative to the much wider liberal peace model? Key words : Liberia, truth, reconciliation, peacebuilding Introduction In 2005 Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf defeated international football star George Weah in a run-off election to become President of Liberia and Africas first female elected president in very Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol. 9, No. 1, Spring 2010 182 unusual circumstances. 1 These circumstances were a product of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2003 which followed the exile of former president, Charles Taylor, and signaled the last of a long line of peace agreements aimed to halt what had become a 14 year long civil conflict. The CPA stipulated an inclusive two-year coalition interim government consisting of members of the Taylor regime, leaders of rebel forces, and representatives of civilian opposition and civil society. Importantly, no-one who held high office in the interim administration could stand for election in 2005. The result was two years of gross levels of corruption, but crucially the rebel forces were effectively bought off thereby removing many security considerations from the elections, the nature of the coalition made sure there was no incumbent and so the use of state resources in electoral campaigns was ubiquitous but democratized, and characters less involved in the interim administration stood for election....
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