Written by Bernard Gbayee Goah
President, Operation We care for Liberia
The exponential increase in the lack of public trust and confidence in President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s ability to lead the people of Liberia concerns me.
Given the high level of corruption with the disappearances of millions of taxpayers’ money under the very supervision of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, it is now clear that her reelection to the presidency for the second time was actually an endorsement of the status quo and a return to business as usual in Liberia.
Ms. Sirleaf is incapable of preventing Liberia from again returning to violence in the absence of the UN troops. The truth is, the presence of UN Troops in Liberia only gives a false sense of security with nothing being done to address imperative issues. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is not capable of navigating her own people through the rough waters of justice because doing so would mean holding herself accountable. I know this to be true because after reviewing all the evidence, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia felt it necessary to recommend that Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf be banned from public office for no less than 30 years. This is a clear indication of the extent of her involvement in the carnage.
Liberia’s past history has shown us that it is important for a sitting President to listen and take corrective steps while her people are still whining, writing articles, suggesting solutions, and talking.
When the people become quiet, a situation develops whereby the top of the water is still and yet boiling underneath.
Liberia has experienced the result of such a situation many times as a nation. I am sure Liberians do not want to experience it again.
The Liberian people have said over and over that they want the establishment of a War Crimes Court for Liberia. As a President of a nation, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is under the obligation to not only listen but also do something about it because the people are the government. But the Liberian President is just out of touch with reality. She has deliberately ignored the will of the people and the people are now anxious. Mistrust, suspicion and fear have hindered progress. Tension is rising and pressure is building across the entire country. To ignore this fact as President Sirleaf has done is a clear indication of a disconnected leader.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf must not be allowed to provide cover for persons who have committed unspeakable atrocities in Liberia. Impunity must not trump accountability. This will make it difficult – if not impossible – to restore normalcy in post-war Liberia under the leadership of persons bearing the greatest responsibility for the senseless destruction of lives and properties in that country.
If the people of Liberia allow rape, torture and murder to go unpunished, soon there will be nothing left to protect.
Recently, in the country of Chad, the country’s former president Hissene Habre was arrested at his home and is presently in the custody of the Senegalese police. Habre is accused of killing and torturing tens of thousands of political opponents during his eight-year reign from 1982 until1990. In Liberia, an estimation of more than two hundred thousand innocent people were killed, hundreds of thousands uprooted from their homes, and hundreds of thousands more displaced in foreign lands as a result of the country’s brutal war.
Atrocities committed in Liberia are so grave, personal experience of the war is not required to understand the magnitude of what took place. But because nothing has been done to deter those who perpetrated crimes against humanity, they have now capitalized on the negligence of the Liberian people to institute justice only to inflict harm on the country’s economy.
Corruption is now institutionalized, and impunity greatly favored. If justice for Chad is a must how about justice for Liberia?
The more we ignore the level of madness that visited Liberia; The more we ignore that countless number of innocent people were raped; tortured, enslaved, and killed; The more we illusively think that the passing of time will eventually diminish the severity of what took place in Liberia; The more illusions we build for a peaceful and reconciled Liberian nation.
For we know, that it is just too wrong for those accused of committing war crimes, and crimes against humanity to be the same people in-charge of running the affairs of victims of war.
If we agree that those accused of war crimes in the country of Chad, should not be the same people running the affair of the Chadian people;
Then we as well must agree, that it is also wrong for those accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Liberia, to be the same people running the affairs of victims of war in that country.
Today in Liberia, suspects of war crimes and crimes against humanity are now dictating the pace of a “government favored justice process” that holds no one accountable. This is just too unacceptable at all levels!
Irrespective of the headaches and ruckus that may come with it, the people of Liberia must hold accountable those bearing the greatest responsibility for war crimes, and crimes against humanity. And surely the UN could help by standing with war victims as well.