Boston, Massachusetts - The Universal Human Rights International (UHRI) hereby publishes its 2017 Presidential & General Elections Manifesto inviting ordinary Liberian citizens to transform Liberia by joining the Citizens' Initiatives movement to design a new democratic system of governance in Liberia and rejecting the new constitution with “Dual Citizenship & Christian Nation” proposals in its totality.
With rising ritualistic killings, impunity, systemic corruption, unjustifiably huge salaries of Liberian government officials, crushing poverty, insecurity and lack of opportunities, Liberia is doomed. The system is corrupt and broken! Liberia needs a new system, not a new flawed constitution or a new political leader of the corrupt system.
Citizens, not politicians are the only ones who can design a new democratic system on the foundations of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights and a new constitution that empowers citizens, not politicians-a government of the people by the people and for the people.
UHRI is inviting civil society, teachers unions and citizens to participate in our 2nd annual Training of Trainers (TOT) for participatory democracy at Hope House, Lewiston, Maine in June 2016. Those who can't make it to America may register to join our faculty of retired and current elected officials of the United States at Pan Africa Democracy Institute Series in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County in December 2016.
UHRI is also launching an international campaign to convince taxpayers and government officials in America and Europe to begin supporting citizens-led democratic movements in Africa and around the world.
Additionally, UHRI urges democratic governments in Western countries to withdraw support of corrupt African governments where politicians earn higher salaries than American and European government officials. It makes no sense to support beggars who earn higher salaries than the people they beg. Additionally, by supporting corrupt governments, the United States, European Union and Switzerland are in fact promoting ritualistic killings, endemic corruption, impunity, civil unrest and instability in our world.
When is the best time for national systemic change? During civil wars like the Syria crisis or in the middle of armed uprising like the Sunni uprising in Iraq? At the Universal Human Rights International (UHRI), we believe in times of peace ordinary citizens have a better shot at designing a new system of governance to replace oppressive systems than during armed conflicts. When all sides abide by such an agreement, peace time deals prevent conflicts. For example, the Magna Carta of June 15, 1215 agreed by King John of England, attempted to make peace between the unpopular King and a group of rebel barons.
Liberia has experience on peacetime democratic system. On July 16, 1847, ordinary citizens convened a meeting to create a democratic system of governance named and styled the Republic of Liberia. Republic is a state where citizens have supreme powers. After 168 years, the Republic is neither a republic nor a democracy because thieves, crooks and murders have completely destroyed the July 16th 1847 democratic system of governance beyond redemption. Liberia is at the crossroads.
Ordinary citizens must come together once again, irrespective of ethnic, religious and class differences to abandon the current corrupt system and design a new system of democratic governance, consistent with Article I of the Liberian Constitution: "All power is inherent in the people. All free governments are instituted by their authority and for their benefit and they have the right to alter and reform the same when their safety and happiness so require."
In 2016, the government of Liberia exists only to enrich the political elites and does not guaranteed security and equal opportunities for Liberian citizens. Endemic corruption in Liberia is well known at home and abroad. The U.S. Department of State in a report issued in April 2016, condemned the Liberian government for various human rights violations including corruption, deficiencies in governance and violence against women. “Impunity remained a serious problem despite intermittent and limited government attempts to investigate, prosecute, and punish officials who committed violations….Judges and magistrates were subject to influence and corruption.
The Bushchicken News quoted Nimba Country Senator Tom Grupee described the governing system in Liberia as “...a complete mess.” Senator Grupee also vowed to introduce “capital punishment bill” as deterrent against ritualistic killings in Liberia. Even President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, agreed the system is broken. Speaking on the Oprah TV Show in 2006 she said. “I knew Liberia was corrupt but I didn't know corruption was systemic.”
And so by all accounts, Liberia is doomed. However, the system is not broken by accident but by the design of Liberia's political elites who benefit from the demise of the system. Designing a new system must also be deliberate-it will not happen by chance or by an act of God. People created the current corrupt system and it will also take good people to create a new democratic system.
So why are former foreign ministers, vice presidents, senators and speakers of the house who are adept in the current corrupt system running to become president of the same corrupt system that created the 5th poorest country in the world in 2017? If the ship of state is sinking, why are the current officials rushing to become the captain of a sinking ship? Are they rushing to build Liberia or build more personal mansions?
With unjustifiable salaries of $144,000.00 plus huge benefits, including a new car, driver, bodyguard, gas slips, cooks, ... rich Liberian officials in the impoverished, war and Ebola ravaged, post conflict Liberia are neither representative of their constituency nor typical of public servants of civilized democracies worldwide. Liberian officials make salaries 2000 times higher than the lowest paid legislator in America, the wealthiest country in the world with a far higher cost of living.
Compare Liberia's $0.58 billion dollar budget and the $144,000.00 salary of Liberian officials to California's $247 billion dollars budget, and the $97,197/year earned by its lawmakers without the benefits of cars, drivers, bodyguards Liberian officials enjoy. Legislators in Texas with a FY-2015 budget of $99.00 billion dollars earn yearly salaries of $7,200 per year. In New Hampshire, a state with $5.4 billion dollars budget, legislators are paid $200 per two-year term or $100 per year.
Legislators in New Mexico are the only ones to make no salary; though they do earn $165/day in per diem when in session. Public servants in civilized democratic countries do not use the entire national revenue to pay officials and heads of public corporations. One thing that has not been tried is for ordinary citizens, irrespective of ethnicity, illiteracy, religion and social status to convene and design a new democratic system on the foundations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A true democratic system that yields a government of the people, by the people and for the people!
With a new system designed by ordinary citizens (masters), empowers citizens to directly propose laws without the permission or approval of the president or national legislature. Citizens also set salaries of politicians, their honourable public servants. The new system is really not new. Citizens' initiatives began in ancient Greece in the 5th Century BC and thrive today in the European Union, Switzerland and 24 states across America. Citizens' initiatives not only guarantee a government of the people, by the people and for the people, it also terminates gross abuse of public service as the avenue to enrich the political elites.
Syrians are in Geneva, Switzerland, a country with Citizens' Initiatives and discovering that waiting until war erupts to fix a country doesn't work. The French and Americans also had corrupt systems of governance changed through violent revolutions. Ordinary Liberians can do better than the Americans, French, Iraqis, Afghans, Somalis and Syrians because on July 16, 1847, ordinary Liberian citizens came together to design a democratic system of governance. Today, the Liberian Judiciary, Presidency and National Legislature have given us a lemon by legally robbing us of the revenue of our country for 168 years.
Liberian citizens don't need Dr. Sawyer's 1986 Constitution with its nine year term for senators nor do we need President Sirleaf's 2015 Constitution with Dual Citizenship and Christian Nation. With the advent of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ordinary citizens must come together now to design a new democratic system of governance. To find out more, please send a SMS text “Democracy” to 85055 (In America) and join the campaign for a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Liberian SMS text messaging is under construction.
Universal Human Rights International (UHRI),