and Shifting Responsibility for War: Legal and Security Implications
Arthur B. Dennis
December 27, 2004, the Liberian Analyst reported that Nimba Superintendent
Harrison S. Karnwea said, "Nimbians are responsible for the
war." But Supt Karnwea came under intense criticisms and later
denied making such statement. However, in criticizing Supt Karnwea,
some of the critics shifted the responsibility for the war on certain
individuals and suggested that those individuals be made to face
war crime trial. Well, in a free-speech democracy, everyone is entitled
to his opinion. Therefore, this article is not intended to criticize
anyone's opinion but to draw the public's attention to the legal
and security implications for claiming and shifting responsibility
of the war as well as advocating for a war crime tribunal to be
established in Liberia.
for the past 14 years, Charles Taylor has been on record for being
responsible for the war not only in Liberia but also for the wars
in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast and elsewhere in Africa. Moreover,
most Liberians judge people by collective guilt, not by the behavior
of one person. Collective guilt destroyed thousands of precious
lives in the war; as such, it should never be taken for granted
in whatever we say or do in public.
any person claiming responsibility for the war is not only a self-
verdict of guilt but also a verdict of guilt for other members of
his ethnic group. The claimer will be telling the public and the
world that Taylor is not to blame; instead, he and members of his
ethnic group are responsible for the war in Liberia, and that they
exported the war into Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast and elsewhere
in Africa.. It further means that Taylor should be released and
they be made to appear before the Sierra Leone war crime tribunal
for trial. On the other hand, shifting responsibility of the war
means indicting a person and members of his ethnic group for the
war in Liberia as well as for the wars in the other African countries.
under Article 76 of the Constitution, it is a crime of treason for
any group of Liberian citizens to wage war on the people of Liberia.
Therefore, claiming responsibility for the war is a self-verdict
of guilt for the crime of treason and a verdict of guilt for other
members of the claimer's ethnic group, including his supporters.
And shifting responsibility means indicting people for the crime
of treason, exonerating Charles Taylor who is responsible for the
there are no cleans in any civil war. Every party to a conflict
has two groups of supporters: the group of supporters who pull the
triggers, and the other group of supporters who provide the funds
and logistics to pursue the goal of their cause. Therefore, if the
matter appears in court in Liberia, Article 76(2) of the Constitution
expressly states that people who pulled the triggers as well as
people who aided and abetted them are indictable for the crime of
if the matter appears before the war crime court, here is what would
happen. The combatants who pull the triggers to commit war crimes
will be charged under the doctrine of individual responsibility;
the commanders who issued the orders for war crimes to be committed
will be charged under the doctrine of command responsibility; and
those who provided the financial and logistic support to warring
factions will be held under the law of complicity for aiding and
abetting. But many of the war crime tribunal advocates disagreed,
arguing that only those who bear the greater responsibility for
crimes committed in the war (apparent reference to the faction leaders)
will be made to appear before the war crime court for trial.
Perhaps those who believe in the "principle of greater responsibility"
have not been following the interplay of "super-power"
politics under international law, or perhaps they have not read
the full text of the International War Crime Statute since it came
perhaps they need to be informed that there is no such term as "greater
responsibility" under any of the provisions of the International
War Crime Statute. The term was coined to get even with certain
faction or government leaders in a crisis situation whose platforms
are opposed to the interests of certain super power or group of
to make matter short, the relevant provisions of the July 17, 1998
International War Crime Statute, dealing with the principle of individual
responsibility in war crimes, which entered into force July 1, 2002
and ratified February 25, 2003 by 86 countries including Liberia,
are as follows.
25: Individual Criminal Responsibility.
A person who commits a crime within the jurisdiction of the court
shall be individually responsible and liable for punishment in accordance
with this statute.
In accordance with this Statute, a person shall be criminally responsible
and liable for punishment for a crime within the jurisdiction of
the court if that person
Commits such crime, whether as an individual, jointly with other
or through another person, regardless of whether that person is
Orders, solicits or induces the commission of such a crime which
in fact occurs or is attempted;
For the purpose of facilitating the commission of such crime,
aids, abets or otherwise assists in its commission or its attempted
commission, including providing the means for its commission;
In any other way contributes to the commission or attempted of
such a crime by a group of persons acting with a common purpose.
Such contribution shall either:
Be made with the aim of furthering the criminal activity or
criminal purpose of the group, where such activity or purpose
involves the commission of a crime within the jurisdiction of
the court; or
Be made in knowledge of the intention of the group to commit
Directly and publicly incites others to commit genocide….
War Crime Statute further provides that the principle of individual
responsibility shall also apply to all persons regardless of their
official positions. The following is the appropriate provision of
the War Crime Statue dealing with that matter.
27: Irrelevance of official capacity
The Statute shall apply equally to all persons without any distinction
based on official capacity. In particular, official capacity such
as Head of State or Government; a member of Government or Parliament;
an elected representative; or a government official shall in no
case exempt a person from criminal responsibility under this Statute
nor shall it in and of itself, constitute a ground for reduction
Immunities or procedural rules which may attach to the official
capacity of person, whether under national or international law,
shall not bar the Court from exercising its jurisdiction over such
The criminal responsibility for military commanders and other superiors
is also stipulated under the following provision of the War Crime
28: Responsibility of Commanders and Superiors
military commander or a person effectively acting as a military
commander shall be criminally responsible for crimes within the
jurisdiction of the court committed by forces under his effective
command and control, or effective authority and control as the case
may be, as a result of his or her failure to exercise control properly
over such forces, where:
That military commander or person either knew or owing to the circumstances
at the time should have known that the forces were committing or
about to commit such crimes; and
That a military commander or person failed to take all the necessary
and reasonable measures within his power to prevent or repress their
commission or to submit the matter to the competent authorities
for investigation and prosecution;
With respect to superior and subordinate relationship not described
in (paragraph (a), a superior shall be criminally responsible for
crimes within the jurisdiction of the court committed by subordinates
under his effective authority and control as a result of failure
to exercise control properly over such subordinates; where
The superior either knew or consciously disregarded information
which clearly indicated that the subordinates were committing or
about to commit such crimes;
The crimes concerned activities that were within the effective responsibility
and control of the superior;
The superior failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures
within his power to prevent or repress their commission or to submit
the matter to the competent authorities for investigation and prosecution.
the International War Crime Statute entered into force in 2002,
only the Rwanda War Crime Tribunal has been effectively applying
all the relevant provisions stipulated in the foregoing. It is indicting
military commanders as well as those who pulled the triggers in
the 1994 massacre. It is also indicting officials of government,
businessmen, journalists, civilians and other invisible hands accused
to be linked to that 1994 mass murder.
are several security implications but because of space, we shall
limit ourselves to only three. Firstly, the memories of human lives
and properties destroyed by the war in Liberia as well as the wars
in other African countries will live forever as long as the history
of the war exists. Therefore, any person claiming responsibility
for the war will be claiming responsibility not only for the lives
and properties destroyed but also will be exposing himself and members
of his ethnic group to everlasting sentiments of hate in Liberia
as well as in the countries where the war was exported. This is
exactly what would happen if the blame of the war is shifted on
certain Liberians master the arts of witch-hunting people for their
negative past and using that negative past to destroy the future
of their fellow citizens. Therefore, any person claiming responsibility
for the war will be indicting himself and members of his ethnic
group as troublemakers or security risks, and the stigma will witch
hunt them as long as the history of the war exists. Not only that.
Besides being a target for gossips and finger-pointing every where,
they will always be on the radar screen under security surveillance
to be the first to be arrested in case of any national security
Thirdly and most important of all, any person claiming responsibility
for the war will not be trusted now and in immediate future to hold
certain top leadership posts in government, especially in any state
security branch. Confidence crisis over power sharing in government
is the price that most players usually pay after every civil war.
For example, at the end of the American civil war in 1865, it took
nearly ten years for the southerners to be trusted to hold top sensitive
posts in government; although general amnesty was granted to all
those who participated in the war. The Easterners in Nigeria, who
broke away in 1967 under the State of Biafra, were also granted
amnesty following the war. But when it comes to power- sharing in
government, especially in the military and other security services,
confidence crisis still hangs over them today. This is exactly what
would happen in case the blame for the war is shifted on any group
are three most important issues to be remembered in this article.
First, those who are claiming responsibility for the war should
remember that they are not only incriminating themselves but also
incriminating other members of their ethnic group coupled with those
who were in sympathy with their cause in the war. Second, those
who are shifting responsibility for the war on other people should
also remember that they are not only incriminating them but also
endangering their lives in Liberia as well as in the countries where
the war was exported. Finally, those who are claiming or
shifting responsibility for the war should remember that Article
76(2) of the Constitution as well as Article 25, Article 27, and
Article 28 of the War Crime Statute are strongly advising us that
if we haul rope, rope will haul bush. Therefore, those who have
ears to hear, let them hear, and hear real good before going public
with a call to set up war crime tribunal for Liberia.
of Arthur Dennis
ELECTION GUIDELINES: SOME UNFINISHED BUSINESS
DWEH S. BOLEY
elections season in Liberia is fast approaching, and we have to
applaud the National Election Commission (NEC) for having the strength
and character to keep the process on course under undeniably difficult
circumstances. The Commission has got its structure in place. It
is coordinating with other international and local organizations
to mobilized resources and to ensure fairness and integrity of the
Electoral Reform Bill and Guidelines for participation initially
got stuck in the Transitional Legislative Assembly (TLA) over matters
that were later realized to arise principally out of pecuniary concerns.
There were some heated exchanges over the necessity of the hitch.
But in the final analysis, the bill got passed. That's the beauty
of a democratic debate and we are thankful for the non-violence
all things in Liberia, doing it the right way from the start and
all the way to the end is always the key to success. Leaving seemingly
"little matters" unattended has the potential of rocking
the process inevitably or unfairly tilting the balance in one direction.
So, it is all about the discovery of unfinished businesses that
must be addressed; and taking care of those businesses in a timely
fashion should be a priority.
my view, the NEC's guidelines of January 17, 2005 relating to the
registration of Political Parties and Independent Candidates failed
to address two important concerns that I believe, if addressed properly,
will help to "ensure that the rights and interest of all Liberians
are guaranteed, and that the elections are organized in a manner
that is acceptable to all."
there is no specific reference within the Guidelines to prohibit
the use of public resources in support of candidates and political
parties during campaign activities. Second, the Commission has established
no deadline for the resignation of current government officials
who may have the desire to contest for elected positions in the
upcoming national elections. And God knows - there are dozens of
them waiting in the winds to jump into the race and take care of
the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement (ACPA) may have partially
tried to address the issue of restricting the Chairman and Vice-Chairman
of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), Speaker
of the TLA, as well as all principal Cabinet Ministers within the
NTGL from contesting for any elected office during the upcoming
elections; the ACPA speaks nothing of other executive political
appointees within NTGL including Commissioners of Bureaus and Managing
Directors of Public Corporations and Autonomous Agencies and their
deputies. The accord is equally silent on Deputy Ministers serving
in the NTGL and current members of the TLA who may be desirous of
seeking elective positions within their various constituencies.
think that the same logic that went into restricting "Principal
Cabinet Ministers" should have applied to Commissioners, Managing
Directors and their deputies. If not, what justifies the thinking
that the Minister of Agriculture or Rural Development for that matter,
can exercise more undue political and financial influence on the
elections process than say the Managing Director of National Port
Authority, Liberia Petroleum Refining or the Commissioner of Maritime
or the Comptroller General of Liberia? It just doesn't make sense
to me. What's good for the goose must also be good for the gander.
the ACPA failed to address these issues comprehensively, The NEC
is now called upon to take practical steps to close the loop before
it gets too late. I believe that the NEC can solve this looming
problem by taking bold and unequivocal actions to set a specific
deadline for these government officials to resign their post before
contesting for any elective position in the forthcoming elections.
I take the position that the NEC should require the officials in
the category mentioned above to resign their position at least six
months prior to the day of national elections in order to qualify
is not asking too much. The NTGL Chairman can replace them based
on the recommendation of their respective nominating parties. By
this move, the NEC will be creating some sort of level playing field
between those with access to government resources and exposure and
those without such added edge.
the argument relating to the advantage of incumbency cannot apply
to these official of government. Why? Because, they were never elected
by the will of any electorate of any legitimacy. They were selected
or appointed to positions in various branches of government for
the purpose of national convenience in order to implement the Accra
Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
above two concerns should be addressed quickly in order to create
and ensure a level playing field for all - where the less powerful
will be heard as well as the most powerful. Further, this process
will also minimize the abuse of authority, undue influence and coercion
as a form of power, which of course has always been a trademark
in Liberia's system of government and political campaigning.
About the author: Dweh S. Boley is Executive Director of Liberia
Business Network, President & CEO of Lone Star Environmental
Services, a Liberian-owned business specialize in OSHA and DOT Compliance,
Phase I & II Environmental Site Assessment, Asbestos, Lead-Base
Paint, Mold, IAQ and UST. Contact is email@example.com
am I voting in the first place?
BY RINNY V. JACKSON
January 25, 2005
is something you learn and practice over a long period of time,
It does not occur by someone waving a magic wand and all of a sudden
everyone and the whole system become democratic."
this whole issue about elections in Liberia started, I decided to
shun it in the name of the popular saying, "I am not a politician."
I thought it wise to leave it to the so-called political minds of
our time. But on second thought, I decided to express my thoughts
on the status-quo.
Since the inception of our rights to participate in the electoral
process (and it goes far back), most Liberians have denied themselves
the right to institute good governance, simply by refusing to go
to the polls to elect a good leader because some feel that they
are not educated enough to participate in the process. The thing
is, when rhetorical Liberians take advantage of the democratic process,
everyone, whether educated or uneducated suffers.
one needs tell Liberians that the laissez-faire attitude of the
past has not benefited us.
I am afraid most people would beg to differ when I say that most
of the problems in our society are due in part to our negligence
and ignorance about our rights to practice and uphold our freedom.
I am not speaking as an innocent by-stander. During the crisis,
I crawled through the swamps, and walked on bare-feet. I actually
know what hunger is, and worst of all what dying is. I know anguish
and pain in all their forms. Sadly, there is one thing I have not
known my whole life, that's good governance. It's interesting how
complacent we as Liberians can be. There is a popular belief that
as long as a man can afford to feed himself and his family, purchase
a bottle of beer and some roasted meat and sit around the beer table
after work, life is good! Life is not good, damn it! Have anyone
ever considered how he or she is earning the money. Is it legit
or something squeezed in your pocket by your so-called "boss
man"? It is heart wrenching that as long as one man is stealing
and supporting his family and girl friends, have a car to move around,
no one else matters.
Even our so-called freedom crusaders find the transition from crusading
and advocacy to exploiter and manipulators of our people fun and
easy. Everyone is either too greedy or afraid that we all fail to
realize the butterfly effect a single action from an honest and
God-fearing old-village lady could cause in the long run. But everyone
is so afraid in challenging the status-quo. We would rather be abused
and mal-handled by fraction of individuals to whom we entrust our
country, than to speak out and stand for our rights.
Who are your presidential aspirants, and why should you vote in
the first place?
is the question I am admonishing us all to grapple with. Why? Because
Liberia is at this time like a schizophrenic and paranoid little
child in need of not only therapy, or medication, but a systematic
approach which is capable of pulling her out of this demented state
ever becomes the next leader should be prepared to be a teacher
without a curriculum. He or she should be in a position to rely
on past training and ingenuity, implementing methods that would
in the long run be defined as a frame work for governance for all
ordinary person's position in this light should be assessing the
aspirant's knowledge and experience relating to the job as stake.
All of us should in our guest to put in place a good leader formulate
in our minds and utterances solutions in terms of steps for our
own political and economic redemption.
Advocating for a leader with insight should be our outmost priority.
A time might come when the demands transcend insight; problem identification
plus insight plus knowledge plus the behavior of the people governed
will equal effective coping and fruition for our long sought peace
now, we need a leader who is mentally equipped, well connected;
a person who loves the country and has never been implicated in
any scandal. This is a tough one, but this is what Liberia needs
right now. Has anyone ever wonder why all these aspirants are all
desirous of the presidential seat? This is an insult to the integrity
of all Liberians by these so-called presidential applicants. Why
don't we hear anyone talking of being a senator, or occupying any
lower governmental position?
now Liberia is not a big ripe juicy apple that everyone can have
a piece of. But interestingly, no one can make such decision for
anyone else. Everyone is entitled to one ballot. Are we going to
vote for individuals to satisfy short term needs or long term needs?
election is going to afford everyone the opportunity to make his
or her destiny. Like me you might say you are not a politician,
but bad political decisions affect the lives of every one of us.
The poor people are the real victims of the shanghai facing us.
But no one is excused. Because no one has to tell you what is good
am mentally prepared to dog any presidential aspirant, but right
now the most important thing is the issues at hand, the election.
Most of your aspirants are frauds, but that is left for you on the
grounds to figure out.
It is disheartening that most of us have to move to the US and other
parts of the world to make ends meet. We undeniably want to come
back home, that's why we keep talking despite the fact that we are
far away from home.
is no place like home!
our traumatic political past belongs in the trash bin of history,
I admonish us to take a critical look at it before we toss it. So
in the long run we can avoid those pit falls that have shattered
the lives of our people and brought our nation down to her knees.
The past should be our school and these elections should be our
graduation from political indignation and stagnation to political
glory, from inequality to equality, from nepotism to equal opportunity
for the competent and from tribalism to nationalism.
These elections should e a healing process, and economic resurrection
and the spontaneity by individuals to be identified as Liberians.
might ask why you should vote. You should vote because our lives
depend on it. The economic and political vibrancy of Liberia starts
from your ability to vote right. What is voting right? You tell
I cringe when I see people campaigning for a candidate that is disgracefully
corrupt and greedy, not only that but down right unsuccessful in
past endeavors. I am hurt when people applaud these old political
heads. These are people who know they can no longer be elected to
the presidency, interestingly; these are people who glory in being
part of the incumbent as though it is their birth right. They have
been part of all regimes.
Why should we vote in the first place? Because our lives depend
on your actions at the poles. Who is the right person to vote for?
If I told you or suggested to you an individual, I will be violating
your rights to choose for yourselves.
you have is the power to better your lives. If we chase short term
goals, we will have ourselves to blame afterwards. "Decency
herself would beg to convert to dishonesty and disrepute when some
of these presidential applicants come in close proximity to her!"
2005, be ware, Liberian youth, they are at your doors again.
hail Liberia hail!!
All hail Liberia hail!!
In union strong success is sure
We can not fail
Our right to prove"
the years the youth of Liberia continue to be used by warlord, politician
and other job seekers in the name of serving the Liberian people.
Many have used statements such as, "I want to seek the interest
of the Liberian youth" or "I want to serve the Liberian
people for the betterment of our young generation." These statements
and many other may have appealed to the masses, but how many of
these people making these statements have upheld their values?
recent times I have been questioned by some of my readers why I
date few of my recent articles as far back as 1944 till present.
I think most Liberians would agree with me that the period from
1944 to present could be remembered by many Liberians presently
alive as a very critical period in our history.
With the count down to elections in war ravaged Liberia, it is important
to take an introspective look at our history of electoral processes.
From 1847 to 1980, elections in Liberia was mainly clothed in the
diabolic inner workings of the political minds of said eras, the
incumbent always having the say, referred to as, "so say one,
so say all," mainly because it was alleged that the election
was decided at a Masonic meeting before the actual election, with
the chair of the elections commission present at such meeting.
the young 17 enlisted men headed by sergeant Doe took over in 1980,
the leadership before him was condemned for not doing much for the
youth of Liberia. He promised to do every thing to improve the status-quo,
but the promise, like many other failed to yield its intensions.
The youth were encouraged to drop from school and join the military
which was seen as a step to success.
the 1985 election, Sergeant Samuel Doe changed his age to be within
the frame work of the law which requires presidential candidates
to be 35 years of age or above. That election result was decided
at the executive mansion before it was announce to the Liberian
the chairman announced the result to the public at the Unity Conference
Center outside of Monrovia, he could not help himself but mistook
Samuel Kanyon Doe for Samuel Fiah Doe (Fiah being the middle name
of the late Jackson Doe, the presumed winner of the 1985 election).
Some of what lead us to our present situation is a direct link to
such election results.
the death of sergeant Doe, when time came to discuss the formation
of an interim leadership for Liberia, Liberians politicians, religious
leaders and civil servants pulled in from every parts of the world
to find job in the name of serving the Liberian people and improving
the lives of the young people bearing arms. These job seekers, headed
by Dr. Amos C Sawyer, a Liberian political scientist and Bishop
Ronald Diggs, a Lutheran preacher, soon found themselves in positions
of trust in war crippled Liberia but in no time it was business
as usual in the Liberian sense ( corruption, nepotism, favoritism,
tribalism greed, ETC). After the disgraceful death of Samuel Doe
at the hands of mentally unbalanced rebels in 1990, the period between
1990 and the 1997 elections was mark by change of much interim leadership
based on political, tribal, and factional interest. Indeed, Liberia
was at a very critical cross road of uncertainty until 1997; when
Liberians started coming out of the woodwork and every possible
holes to contest the election in the name of serving the people
and improving the lives of the youth, many of whom were being used
by the warlords. But sadly at that point many Liberians thought
rewarding the guy with the biggest gun with the executive mansion
would've solved the problem. It was often said in Liberia at that
time, "Liberians must allow the guy that created the mess to
clean it up."
is widely believed that Liberians therefore elected Mr. Taylor out
of fear and with the blind hope that he would've made a difference.
In less time they came to the painful realization that Mr. Taylor
interest was not the Liberian people, indeed, it was not the youth
that slaughtered, tortured and raped to get him to the position
but his family and close associates. He failed to live by his popular
slogan, "above all else, the people." Many of the other
factions that have emerged over the time in the Liberian situation
in the name of bettering the lives of the youth and the Liberian
masses have all failed to meet those promises because of their selfish
and personal interest.
Taylor's departure from Liberia, most Liberian again converged on
Ghana to seek Job in the name of doing better for Liberia. Most
of those leaving from the United States took out the saving form
their 401k accounts, some took out from their personal saving accounts
and others borrowed from friends and relatives to be able to buy
their way into the job seeking process, all in the name of serving
the Liberian people. But again in less time Liberians and the international
community have come to the realization that when those few Liberians
who keep running around in the political corridor says they want
to serve their country it means they want to steal, loot, kill and
is often said that experience is the best teacher. Liberians have
had their own share of experience with every thing ugly and nasty,
but the future of Liberia is now in the hands of Liberians, so be
ware because they are at your doors again. Some are just old wine
in new battle while some are just new devil dressed to dance to
the singing of the same old singers and drummers.
distinguished medievalist, J. R. Strayer once said, "No community
can survive and no institution can function without constant reference
to past experience. In every society people are usually ruled by
precedents fully as much as by laws, which is to say that we are
rule by the collective memory of our past. It is the memory of occurrences
that makes a scattered individual into community."
we start the count down to October, we must allow our history to
enable us deal more knowledgeably with continuity and change in
our society. The construction of an informed sense of our past is
a fundamental component in appreciating and understanding the present
as well as anticipating the future. The decision to elect leaders
that will seek the common good of Liberia will be in the hands of
Liberian, especially the youth in October. This election will not
be the old, "so say one so say all" it will not be a reward
to the guy with the biggest gun nor should it be a popularity contest
but a mark of broadminded zeal to the integrity and freedom of the
October, we must elect leaders that will lead our nation under God's
guidance to a new birth of freedom and equality. The coming moment
is one that is rare in the Liberian history of political election.
This moment is an opening of opportunity to the greater achievement
that awaits us as a nation. Will we be wise enough to seize this
this opportunity, Liberians have endured all the pains of conflict
and many hearts are staying heavy with the memory of the sorrow.
However, the past is over and it is the future that summons us now.
That future is not one that can be found in uneducated popularity,
it can not be found in greed in the name of serving the people or
the youth, nor can it be found in nepotism, corruption, injustices,
and favoritism. Such future can be found in leadership that will
be able to make real the promises of democracy by the past failed
leaders. Liberia may not be able to succeed in taking the last step
to total peace and freedom in a condition of relative calm if we
are not wise enough to soberly reflect on our historical failure
Let us remember it is not how we can disentangle ourselves heroically
from the affair, but how the coming generation shall continue to
live. WE CAN NOT FAIL OUR RIGHT TO PROVE.
Weah's Executive Mansion bid:
A PRELUDE TO POST WAR POLITICS
By Alex Quermorllue
to the Regional Body ECOWAS and the United Nations, the prospects
for Liberia's Legislative and Presidential elections slated for
October, 2005 has progressed past the Rubicon. A point of no return
following the successful disarmament process and the formal disbandment
of the warring factions. No wonder, the Liberian capital Monrovia
is already bustling with the debate that is bound to transfix this
erstwhile beautiful country and its war impoverished citizens as
to who will be the next President. Needless to point out that the
whistle to begin formal campaigning is yet to be blown.
who can blame the ordinary Liberians for showing such an early enthusiasm
for the electoral process to come? For too long and with disastrous
consequences, the majority of the Liberian populace dismissed government
as the "people thing". This nonchalant attitude of the
people played into the hands of not only the corrupt and decadent
class rule of the True Whig Party spanning over 100 years, but sadly
also the supposedly redeeming military government of the late Samuel
Doe and finally and to the alarm of the international community,
the destabilizing rule of Mr. Charles Taylor. Fourteen years of
brutal and cruel civil war has instilled the fact that government
is not the "people thing", but is and should be the prerogative
of all the people.
are the traditional Liberian politicians, plentiful in number, whose
interest in our country and people always ends on the day of their
election and swearing into office. From there on, they become partners
with the business community - the so-called partners in progress
- to economically terrorize the people as evidenced in the past
by sky rocketing commodity prices and kick-back laden government
contracts and concessions.
the other hand, there are the politicians with very close ties to
the discredited ruling political class of the TWP era who wish to
have a shot at leadership by simply whipping up memories of their
past status of privilege and fame, with no evidence of any meaningful
contribution to the struggle by the mass majority of our people
for economic equity, social justice and political plurality.
still, perhaps more than ever before in our country's history, there's
need for Liberians of all walks of life and persuasions, outside
the traditional political circuit, to get involved in the democratic
process. The candidacy of Mr. George Weah, therefore, should not
alarm the so-called educated political class, but should be seen
as a prelude to the new political dispensation in our country. Mr.
Weah, like all other would be candidates in the October 2005 polls,
should make his case to the Liberian people for the office he is
seeking. The argument by some that only the intelligentsia, the
well-heeled and politically crafty segment of our society should
monopolize the political process is not only wrong and divisive,
but also very dangerous to our embryonic peace process.
October 2005 vote must not only be free and fair, but also must
be open to all Liberians regardless of social status, religious
affiliation and ethnicity. The "so say one, so say all"
zero sum politics of the past must be buried with the end of the
S. Ambassador to Liberia--John W. Blaney III: My Diplomat of the
Arthur B. Dennis
John W. Blaney III, a 29-year career diplomat, who officially became
U. S. Ambassador to Liberia on September 9, 2002, is my Diplomat
of the year 2004. I have nominated him for this honor not only in
recognition of his two-year accomplishments but also in appreciation
for his outstanding role in ending the 14-year civil war in Liberia.
can be recalled that in his July 9, 2002 confirmation hearing speech
delivered before the U. S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ambassador
Blaney said, if confirmed, he would work with the U. S lawmakers
to implement what he referred to as an aggressive, practical and
pragmatic policy and pledged to make the following 5-point agenda
his top priority. (1) to provide security for the Embassy, serving
500-600 U. S. citizens in Liberia;( 2) to curb Liberia's role as
a source of regional instability; (3) to facilitate peace and reconciliation;
(4) to improve Liberia's human rights practices; and (5) to establish
a level playing field for free and fair elections in Liberia.
for the U. S. Embassy
At the time of Ambassador Blaney's appointment, the need to enhance
security at the U.S Embassy in Monrovia was overwhelming. The reason
was twofold. First, at that time, the Embassy had been operating
for thirteen years in a hostile combat environment characterized
by lawlessness and indiscriminate human rights abuses perpetrated
on the watch of four interim governments and two elected governments.
And second, at that time, the Embassy and the Charles Taylor regime
had been on a collision course for five years. The rift grew out
of the following hostile circumstances.
began in December 1997 when the Embassy issued a press release,
condemning the killing of one Samuel Dokie and his family by some
security elements of the Taylor Government. In February of 1998,
the detailed account of that Dokie incident appeared in the Human
Rights Report of the U. S. Department of State, linking certain
Taylor's security guards. But Taylor dismissed the claims and accused
some of the Embassy staff of filing a false story to Washington.
September 18, 1998, Taylor forces entered into the main premises
of the Embassy and killed one Madison Wion accused of being a dissident.
The Embassy staff were very terrified. For, it was a gross violation
of Article 22 (1) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
which expressly provides that diplomatic premises of the Embassy
of a sending State shall be inviolable, and no agent of the host
state shall enter such premises except by permission of the head
Taylor did not stop there. Following that incident, he began regularly
deploying over 100 heavily armed soldiers around the Embassy under
the pretext of providing security for the staff against possible
terrorist attacks, whereas the real mission was to keep a close
surveillance on the entire diplomatic compound based on empty suspicions
that the Embassy was harboring dissidents to overthrow his regime.
One day in 2000, a local newspaper published a story, revealing
that Taylor's loyalists were formulating a plan to arrest the U.
S. Ambassador Bismarck Myrick. But the Taylor government denied
the story, and that killed the plan. These hostile circumstances
coupled with other security threat-related incidents rendered the
staff and the Embassy totally defenseless and created the need to
enhance security at the mission. But today, that is no longer the
case. The Embassy is now operating in the appropriate security environment
befitting the status of a diplomatic mission. Thanks to Ambassador
Blaney's Security Agenda.
Liberia's Instability Role
When Ambassador Blaney was appointed in 2002, Liberia's destabilization
role in the region was high on the agenda of U. S. foreign policy
on Liberia. Because of this, he took the matter seriously and unveiled
the following agenda, pointing out that:
is without electricity, water and sewage systems. Yet, instead of
investing the nation's resources in hi s own people, the Taylor
Government supported the RUF in Sierra Leone, and supported the
RUF attacks in Guinea. Therefore, in this bleak environment, he
added, our immediate objective has been, and remains, to curb Liberia's
role as a source of instability in the region."
August 10, 2003, 11 months after he took over, the Liberian people
woke-up in surprise and heard Taylor reading his resignation speech
to leave the country for exile. On the next day August 11, Taylor
left the country.
was indeed a combination of military and diplomatic pressure that
prompted Taylor's exit, and the credit goes to all the players.
However, the fact that Ambassador Blaney pledged to curb Liberia's
instability role in the region, and the source of that regional
instability was the Taylor regime, Mr. Taylor's departure marks
the end of Liberia's instability role in the region and creates
the necessary room for Ambassador Blaney to win the first prize
in the military and diplomatic race that end the Taylor factor.
Peace and Reconciliation
Ambassador Blaney assumed official duty in Liberia, I have been
closely monitoring his activities and here is what I gathered from
my observation. He met the Liberian civil war in its 13th year with
no hope in sight for peace and began his search for peace with closed-door
consultations, starting with President Charles Taylor who was the
prime target of the civil war. They met many times behind closed
doors and discussed several issues not only essential to the peace
process but also vital to the interests of the United States and
the war reached the city suburb in June and July 2003, he intensified
his shuttle diplomacy not only to secure a cease fire but also to
end the war through negotiations. At that time, mortar shells and
stray bullets were falling here and there indiscriminately killing
innocent people. Even on July 21, one heavy mortar shells badly
hit one of the embassy buildings. Yet, Ambassador Blaney kept waving
the "white flag" for peace, and kept the Embassy's greystone
compound gate opened so the multitude of civilians fleeing the war
could go there for safety.
the military hostilities escalated in the city and brought pressure
to bear on the U. S. Embassy, calling on President George Bush to
militarily intervene in the crisis, Ambassador Blaney was on the
phone daily trying to convince Washington to send U. S. troops.
When several dead bodies of people killed in the war were brought
and placed before the Embassy in order to build up pressure for
U. S. troops to come, Ambassador Blaney convinced Washington, and
President George Bush ordered the deployment of U. S. Marines to
Liberia. At that time, there were no U N peacekeeping troops in
civilians in rebel-controlled territories were starving and desperately
needed food and medicines, Ambassador Blaney went beyond the call
of duty and led a team of humanitarian agencies into the hostile
combat zone not only to plead for peace but also to appeal for access
so that humanitarian supplies could be allowed to reach the suffering
population. It was indeed a venture of humanitarian diplomacy at
its best, and I am inspired to describe Ambassador Blaney not only
as a "Hero of Peace" but also as a Humanitarian Diplomat"
we recognize the priceless role of other international actors in
ending the crisis, particularly the UN Special Representative Jacques
Klein who is my second choice of Diplomat of the Year 2004. However,
if we keenly reflect on the combination of diplomatic and risk-taking
role played in the peace process by Ambassador Blaney, we will come
to realize that he truly deserves a special recognition and honor
in the global success that restored peace and stability to Liberia.
Level Playing Field and Human Rights: The Unfinished Agenda
Establishing a level playing field and improving Liberia's human
record are the unfinished agenda for Ambassador Blaney. However,
in the meantime, he deserves a standing ovation for taking two bold
steps designed to achieve the goals of his unfinished agenda. First,
on September 22, the U. S Embassy provided $50, 000 grants to six
local groups in order to promote democracy and human rights; and
second, in his recent December 3 Press Statement, Ambassador Blaney
declared what he calls his "Three Pillars" of success
for a transition to New Liberia. These include (1) Peace and Stability;
(2) Democracy; and (3) Good Governance.
the issue of human rights, Ambassador Blaney only need to be advised
that most of the human rights abuses reported in Liberia over the
past several decades have been perpetrated largely by state security
on orders of government officials. Liberian state security officers
are under mandatory duty to give unquestionable obedience to all
orders from their superior officers, whether such orders seek to
protect or violate human rights, they must be executed.
To end this status quo, we strongly advise that the entire state
security, comprising the military, national police, immigration,
prison officers, Special Security officers, plain-cloth security,
customs officers, court messengers, security guards of public corporations,
etc. be thoroughly trained. to master the skills of International
Humanitarian Law so they can be empowered to say "Yes Sir to
orders intended to protect human rights, and to say "No Sir"
to orders that will violate human rights, regardless of who is issuing
Before Ambassador Blaney was appointed, the U. S. policy on Liberia
was (and still is) one of "neutrality. Under this policy, the
role of the U. S. Embassy in the crisis was essentially twofold:
First, to closely monitor daily events in the crisis and report
to Washington; and second to supervise the activities of international
and local agencies funded by the U. S. Government. In order words,
before Ambassador Blaney's tenure, the role of U. S. Ambassadors
in the crisis was to only watch the drama of the war and later bid
farewell following their tour of duty.
so after Ambassador Blaney was appointed, and he pledged at the
confirmation hearing to promote U. S. interests in Liberia, most
people believed he was pledging to uphold the policy of neutrality
in order to also watch the drama of the war and bid farewell following
his tour of duty. But he has proven his skeptics wrong. He pledged
to enhance security at the Embassy so the staff can work in the
appropriate security environment to serve the public, and he did
it. He pledged to curb Liberia's instability role in the region,
and he did it. He pledged to facilitate peace and reconciliation
in Liberia, and he did it.. He pledged to establish a level playing
field for the scheduled 2005 elections and also pledged to improve
Liberia's human right record, and he is making encouraging progress.
view of the forgoing, we are motivated and pleased to nominate Ambassador
Blaney for the honor to be the Diplomat of the Year 2004. We were
inspired by the merits of his job well done and nominated him in
good faith. Therefore, we take responsibility for the views and
comments expressed herein to support his honor.
note: This article has also been sent for publication in the U.
S. Department of State Magazine, Washington Post, and the New York
Times and on certain selected websites. Therefore, all comments
for or against this article should be submitted directly to the
publishers, with a copy to the writer 's mailing address at 141
N. Tennessee Avenue, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Or at his E-Mail
ARE THOSE THAT KEEP FAILING LIBERIA?
By Ben Browne
I posted my last article, "NEW SLOGAN, SAME
PEOPLE, DIFFERENT DAY," I continue to receive comments
from Liberians of diverse ideas and backgrounds. I greatly appreciate
those comments mainly because I believed diversity is the beauty
of democracy. However, while many of these comments are in agreement
of my idea of sober reflection in the Liberian situation; some considered
me bias and uninformed but one particular question that keeps coming
up in most of these comments is "who are those that keep failing
simplest answer to this question could be it is Liberians that keep
failing Liberia. But my intention for this article is far from being
confined to only who continue to fail Liberia; it is of much greater
extent, and shall take in the main reasons for Liberia failure over
the years. As to my own parts, having turned my thoughts for many
years upon this important subject, and maturely weight the several
proposals of other projectors, I write for the dignity of Liberia
and the destiny of our democracy.
think it is agreed by all parties that the prodigious situation
of Liberia is in its present critical stage; therefore whoever could
find a fair, unique and easy way of making this situation greatly
improve would deserve a public recognition on the local and international
level. We continue to hear the international communities tell us
that our problems can be better solved by us. I shall now propose
my own thoughts, which I hope will be taken into consideration.
have come to realized over the years that one of our greatest problems
is we continue to put people with little or no education into positions
of trust based on what we may get or our personal connection to
such person. On January 3rd 1944 we put an 8th grade student in
power that ruled the nation for 27 years unaccountable to no one
but himself. Liberia was at a motionless point for those years because
all that matters to the leadership at the time was making sure that
their farms had workers. When the president died in 1971 and his
vice president took over as president, Liberia was already sitting
on a political and social time bomb waiting to explode. The bomb
exploded finally when the master sergeant took over a leadership
he had no idea how it functions. By the time he could realize his
own function it was already late. The wanted embezzler was on his
way to get him.
1980 to present most Liberians continue to make the same mistake
of singing and dancing to songs such as, "native women born
soldier, soldier killed Tolbert," you killed my pa, you killed
my ma, I will vote for you, and now you know book, you don't know
book that you we want." These slogans/songs mainly by some
of our citizens continue to show the outside world our level of
education. I am not reciting these facts for the purpose of recrimination.
We cannot afford it. I recite them in order to explain why we continue
to fail as a nation.
pending election in Liberia is one that must decide the direction
of the generation after us not a repeat of our failed past. Sound
education with sober judgment must be very important components
expected of people we elect to offices in Liberia during the coming
election. We must be able to give our children reason for their
education. Two well known functionalist sociologist, Kinsley Davis
and Wilbert Moore, once concluded that, "social stratification
(society in layers according to class, power or prestige) is inevitable
because society must make certain that its positions are filled;
ensure that the most qualified people end up in the most important
positions; and finally, reward people for the time and energy it
takes to develop strong qualifications." Liberia is in my view,
no exception to such society.
is something in the soul of the ordinary Liberians that is crying
out for freedom and great leadership. There is something deep down
within the very soul of the ordinary people from mount wologisi
to Maryland, from mount Nimba to Cape mount, and from St.john River
to the Montserrado River that is crying for a leadership that will
not fail them again. Liberians have tried to adjust to the failure
of our uneducated, selfish and arrogant leaders but now is the time
that we can sing to a better song with its truth meaning---all hail
Liberia hail. It should be cleared that no one who has any concern
for the integrity and life of Liberian can ignore the present events
leading to the 2005 election. Now is the time for us all to get
involve. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected
with lost opportunity.
can make a collective decision that will restore our dignity and
respect by electing some one with sound educated judgments. Some
one that will be able to negotiate and lobby for the well being
of Liberia on the global scene or we can elect someone with little
or no leadership/education experience and make the university of
Liberia (UL) an extension of the executive mansion and repeat our
failed history. Indeed our problems can be better solved by us.
For too long Liberians who come up with new slogans different days
continue to point finger at the educated people/politicians for
our failure. But my only question to the finger pointers is which
real educated Liberian has been placed in the presidential chair
base on real issues by a popular vote since 1944?
to every nation comes a moment to decide. I urge every Liberian
of diverse political and social interest, Liberians of all religion
and tribal grouping, from every section of the country to join in
the process of educating the masses, that the upcoming election
is what will direct the path of our children. Therefore we must
elect candidates base on their education, wisdom, courage, vision,
record and decision making abilities not their popularity.
our time we have come to live with moments of great crisis mainly
because of our past leaders lack of proper education, vision, common
sense, loyalty to the nation, and respect for the rule of law. Our
lives have been marked with debates about issues of war and peace,
issues of prosperity and commitment. But rarely in any time does
an issue of electing someone that will bring our country to the
stage of respect, accountability, and social, political, and economic
equality lay right at our feet. The upcoming election is not only
a challenge to our growth, our security and respect; it is also
a challenge to the value, meaning and purpose of our beloved sweet
land of liberty.
founding fathers believed that if the view of the right of people
was to burgeon, it must be rooted in democracy. The most basic right
of all is the right to choose our own leaders. But about this right
there can be no argument that every Liberians must have the right
to vote or be voted for. But the duty that must weigh heavily on
us as citizens must be the duty to vote the most qualified person
into position of trust. If we will make the right choice we will
be able to transform our bitter and failed past to a beautiful masterpiece
Again remember, the ultimate question for any of us to ask is not
how we can extricate ourselves heroically from the affair, but how
the generation after us shall continue to live.
A PROPOSED GOOD GOVERNANCE AND NATION BUILDING INITIATIVE FOR LIBERIA
BY W. COLEMAN FOSTER II,
ATTORNEY AT LAW
To Collaborator, Senator, Julius Parker (NTLA Representative, Montserrado
County); To the United States of America; To the United Nations;
To the Economic Community Of West African States; To the African
Union; To all Liberian Citizens; and To the interested international
this point, I believe it is safe to say that a great majority of
Liberians appreciate the desperate need for assistance in the nation's
critically essential, yet uniquely precarious, upcoming rebuilding
effort. The very weighty question that remains is "What kind
of assistance is required to effectively, efficiently and 'self-sustainably'
rebuild the nation?"
a good number of years, there have been whispers of implementing
an international Trusteeship, and the desire for the same should
be well understood. After all, it has become painfully obvious that
Liberians are not, and likely will not do what is necessary to rebuild
the nation without assistance. The emphasis is on the word will,
because it should go without saying that capability is not in question,
but as one said, the 'political will' of would-be leaders is certainly
questionable, at best. Frankly, as a result of what has become a
deeply entrenched culture of corruption, it is vitally important
to see to it that all public officials from the least to the greatest
are involved in some form of "discipleship" as to the
ways of good governance.
Nevertheless, it is apparent that a cookie-cutter good governance
project is insufficient for the rather idiosyncratic socio-political
situation that currently exists in Liberia. And though a Trusteeship,
may be the first idea that comes to mind in dealing with such a
failed nation-state, it would arguably not accomplish the long-term
effect desired, namely the imperative "self-sustainability"
of the socio-political and economic environment of Liberia. Even
the toughest critics of a Trusteeship must agree that a Trusteeship
would provide at least a temporary fix. In fact, many of those critics
would even agree that that temporary fix could be a good one, however,
many would say a deceitfully pleasant one- and herein lies the rub.
Without ensuing an extensive diatribe on the subject, it can be
said in summary that the critics of a Trusteeship feel that though
that form of international assistance would likely afford the peace,
stability and even economic growth so desired in Liberia, the same
would only be temporary. The argument is that a Trusteeship, would
necessarily undermine Liberia's sovereignty, and would most detrimentally
undermine self-sustainability, in that it would weaken the central
government and essentially serve as a crutch for the crippled nation;
and when removed, the peace, stability, good governance and economic
growth, once held together by the Trusteeship, would begin to crumble.
in an effort to alleviate this perceived problem, I would suggest
an international "Assistanceship" which would incorporate
all the benefits of a trusteeship, but omit the drawbacks. The proposed
"Assistanceship" could be summarily defined as follows:
a relationship wherein the (Liberian) government will cooperate
with an international body(ies) for the purpose of establishing,
building, maintaining and promoting a self-sustainable system of
good governance, peace and socio-political and economic stability,
without destroying national sovereignty .
Assistanceship should be necessarily distinguished from a "Trusteeship"
in that the key principles of the Assistanceship would be to achieve
self-sustainable good governance, peace, socio-political/economic
stability and success, while safeguarding against impositions to
the nation's sovereign control. This is categorically distinguished
from trusteeships, which have been touted as virtual colonies by
their strongest opponents, and criticized, even by proponents, as
agencies wherein central government is weakened, authority diminished,
sovereignty hampered and so on. Though trusteeships often experience
at least some temporary benefits during their tenure, these modalities
have been accused of lacking the long-lasting and permanent effects
necessary for true nation building.
an "Assistanceship" is hereby promoted, which is envisaged
to provide the best of both worlds; e.g., 1. Providing all the benefits
of a trusteeship (namely stability and ongoing support); 2. Yet
maintaining the integrity and control of a sovereign nation-wherein
the central government and the systems of good governance are strengthened
rather than weakened, and wherein positive socio-political and economic
advancement is promoted in a manner which creates an environment
of self-sustainability, rather than a temporary crutch.
following list is that of some Major Objectives sought through this
Implementation of Central Government as proscribed by the Constitution
and Laws of Liberia, including all established branches of government:
Intense Monitoring of Government Agencies/Officials/Employees
3. Intense Good Governance Training for Government Officials
4. Maintaining Peace- Continued Military Force (UN)
a. Training Police/National Military forces
b. Rehabilitating ex-combatants, etc.
c. Peace and Reconciliation Campaign
5. Rebuilding the infrastructure
a. Restoring the Capital or build a new one;
b. Roads/Highways; Public Transportation;
c. Public Utilities (e.g., electricity, water, sewage, waste management,
Education: Restoring quality, public, free or affordable education
8. Health: Restoring an affordable/perhaps subsidized national health
CORE MODALITIES for the Nation Building~Good Governance "Assistanceship":
International Advisory Board (Comprised of UN/US Advisors-- to cooperate
with the various branches of government, providing advice, training,
2. Assistanceship Grant
3. Monitors for every governmental branch/agency (perhaps including
4. ECOWAS/AU Governing Counsel to oversee International Advisory
5. Peace Keeping Forces/Trainers
1. United Nations
2. African Union
4. United States of America (US Senators; Department of Justice;
5. Other NGO's (e.g., UNDP; UNESCO; WHO; USAID…)
Duration: long-term commitment (e.g., 25-35 years), with shorter-term
operational increments (e.g. 5 years), continued as necessary.
bear in mind that the aforementioned proposal represents only the
initial thoughts as to this matter, and it is well understood that
a substantial effort would need to ensue for purposes of properly
planning and drafting proposed legislation on the matter to be submitted
to the Liberian legislature. For this reason, the assistance of
the international community is requested.
also consider that an Assistanceship could be implemented immediately,
or following a very brief (e.g., one year or less) Trusteeship (during
which efforts could be made to properly situate the country for
a national election, which would possibly have to follow a referendum
to continue suspending pertinent provisions of the constitution
and to postpone the presently scheduled elections.)
It is understood that a number of foreign aid efforts are already
underway, nevertheless, it is suggested that all efforts be consolidated
under the banner of one nation building effort, such as that summarized
The Perspective Engage In Junk Journalism In "The Ways of our
1990, things have been constantly changing in Liberia. We are now
living in trouble times when respect, law and order have dissipated.
There seems to be no end in sight. Every day and every hour, there
is growing tensions everywhere in Liberia due to corruption, mismanagement,
lawlessness, robbery, injustices and other chaotic situations. Certainly,
in such horrible situations, we need the blessings of God and we
also need individuals and institutions that can instill discipline,
proper education and unity.
my opinion, there is no better institution in any society that can
serve as a unifying force than the journalistic institution. Journalists
are bridge builders and educators. Journalists are supposed to provide
information that elevates our public discourse through the exercise
of reasonable judgment between junk and news worthy information.
I believe that The Perspective failed the test of reasonable judgment
when it decided to republish an article written by one Withers Nyenie-Wea,
entitled, "The Ways of our Leaders." As a responsible
and informative website, I did not expect that you would carry such
sensational, fallacious and unstructured article for the following
The article alludes that Ruth Perry is dead. What nonsense? The
perspective is very well aware that Ruth Perry is not dead. As a
matter of fact, The Perspective just carried an article on Ruth
Perry a few weeks ago. An article with such devious lie should not
have been carried on your website. This was obviously untrue, and
any reasonable person would concluded that Mr. Withers Nyenie-Wea
did not know what he was talking. I realized that The Perspective
had added an editor's note to correct this obvious error. But it
would have been far better to retract the article and issue a public
the article alleges that the family of Dr. Harry Fumba Moniba is
soliciting financial assistance through ULAA for the funeral expenses.
Again, that was another blatant lie. The perspective was the first
website to carry an article on Dr. Harry Moniba's death. In that
article, you spoke very highly of him. Since, the inception of Dr.
Moniba's passing, you have not seen any article on any website where
the family is soliciting financial help. As a well organized website,
you should have investigated this fallacious allegation prior to
publishing the article on your website. I am sure you know the leadership
of ULAA. A phone call or email to validate the information would
have accomplished this simple task.
the article refers to the late President Samuel K. Doe as a "Monkey."
It further stated that Dr. Harry Moniba should have been killed
along with President Samuel K. Doe. This article, with such divisive
undertones should not have been published. Our country is too divided
after all these years of mayhem for your website to condone such
article is not only insulting and demeaning to the Moniba family
but to the Liberian nation as a whole. The nation is mourning the
loss of a great man. He has not even been buried. The memories of
his death are fresh. How dare the perspective engage in such Jungle
Journalism Of Divisiveness? We are right to disagree on fundamental
principles. We have the right to express our opinion. But I don't
think any reasonable person would agree that it is okay to wish
death on another Liberian. That's not an opinion. That is malicious,
divisive and designed to hurt an already hurting family. Why would
the Perspective condone this beats me. It is wrong. And there is
no excuse for it.
Mr. Nyenie-Wea's vicious and regrettable statements against Dr.
Moniba are disheartening at best. But even more troubling is the
fact that The Perspective viewed these statements as news worthy
to recycled them. Mr. Nyenie Wea made those statements on the University
of Liberia List Serve, making them viewable only by the members
of the list serve. But by The Perspective deciding to recycle them,
it gave them more prominence. I don't see anything in those statements
that are news worthy. Neither do I see anything in them that would
help our public discourse. I am sure most reasonable people don't.
May be, the Perspective can let its readers know what information
benefit was gained from Mr. Hodge's piece.
do not hold Withers Nyenie-Wea more responsible for this slanderous
article. He is a man with no remorse of conscience. But I hold The
Perspective responsible for the pain this article has caused, because
I expect the Perspective to maintain a higher journalistic standards
and ethics. I also expect the Editorial Board to exercise reasonable
judgment. Even if one is not a journalist, you can tell from the
article that the writer is totally disconnected with reality.
like Withers Nyenie-Wea tell me that Liberia's troubles are from
over. As we approach the 2005 elections, we must begin to reflect
seriously on selecting a leader that can bring back respect and
dignity to Liberia. We must choose a leader that is mentally structured,
strict, law abiding, honest and sincere. Otherwise, we will continue
to have people like Withers Nyenie-Wea who will go about insulting
and disgracing honest and dignified individuals in our society in
the name of free speech. Instead as we emerge from war, let us find
ways to reconnect with one another. We must find ways to reconcile
and build bridges. We must replace anger, insults, condemnations
and disrespect with love, grace and forgiveness.
short, let us follow the model of the one I admire and respect the
most, Nelson Mandela. This man demonstrated reconciliation and restraint
when he was released from prison in 1991. He did not display bitterness
and anger towards his oppressors but talked with them in building
a democratic South Africa for all. I was doubly impressed and amazed
when I read that he invited men who were his prison guards to his
inauguration. Therefore calling people "monkeys" is absolutely
irresponsible and does not anchor well for reconciliation in post-war
Liberia. We are relying on the media outlets like the Perspective
to exercise reasonable judgment in making a value decision between
news worth information and junk. This article was junk. It benefited
no one. It did not educate. It did not inform. It did not analyze
any tangible issues. Dr. Moniba is no longer a candidate for President.
Dr. Moniba tragically passed away. What good it is to anyone to
attack him personally when he has not even been laid to rest? As
a matter of fact, this is not the time to engage in defense or critique
of the Doe-Moniba government. Mr. Wea and The Perspective would
have plenty of time to do that. The bottom line is that this article
was designed to hurt, and it did. And that's a sad commentary.
believe that the perspective owes the Moniba family and the Liberian
people a public apology for publishing such irresponsible, sensational
and divisive article. In fact, the article written by Mr. Hodge
in which he printed the article written by Withers Nyenie-Wea word
for word should be removed. The perspective should be a unifier
and not a divider. I really hope that my brothers and sisters at
the Perspective agree with my assessment. Let us all work to build
a better tomorrow. And that involves exercising reasonable judgment,
restraint, and respect for mankind.
Liberia Project & President, Washington DC Chapter of The Federation
of Lofa Associations in the Americas (FLAA)