Saturday, July 24, 2010

One Year Older, One Year Wiser? – Give Meaning To 163rd Independence

07/24/2010 - FPA EDITORIAL
Source: FrontPage Africa

LIBERIA TURNS 163 years old on Monday, July 26, the celebrations this year is taking on new meaning with a number of development infrastructures being unveiled by the post-war government .

FOR DECADES, Africa’s oldest republic have struggled to maintain peace and stability. Years of war, chaos and hardship shattered the economic and political life of a nation once seen as one of the most peaceful nations in the world.

ALL THAT CHANGED on April 12, 1980 when a band of lowly-ranked officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia staged a coup d’etat that ended decades of Americo-Liberian rule.

THE HISTORY of the last 163 years have been filled with drama, one-party dominance, chaos and war, assassinations, coup attempts and a host of other events which at one point or another left a dark spot in the archives of Liberia’s history.

BETWEEN 1923 AND 1930, the League of Nations investigated the transportation of migrant labor between Liberia and the Spanish colony of Fernando Po. Although the League concentrated its attention on Liberia, a closer examination revealed labor abuse as the product of conditions on Fernando Po. In the last quarter of the 19th century, black planters on the island had shifted from palm oil trading to cocoa cultivation. Their dependence on migrant labor and increasing competition with Europeans resulted in an economic crisis in the first years of the twentieth century. Planters detained labor but failed to pay contracts, resulting in a situation akin to slavery.

THE STORY OF Edward James Roye, the first pure black person to become President of Liberia, for example marked the beginning of numerous turbulent times for Liberia. Roye arrived as a new immigrant in 1846, one year before Independence was proclaimed and became President in 1870 but was deposed the following year in the first coup d’état. He died a mysterious death in Monrovia in early 1872.

YEARS LATER, Liberia would enter the history books for holding the most fraudulent elections in world history when Charles.D.B.King Of Liberia Won The Presidential Elections Of 1927 By A Margin Of 234,000 Votes And Was Duly Elected. King won the presidential elections held in 1927 as a member of the 'True Whig Party'. He has from then on lived on in infamy not because of his landslide victory but because of large scale election fraud—in fact the most fraudulent election ever reported in the world's history as per the Guinness Book of World Records (1982). In Liberia at that time, there were only 15,000 eligible voters as the constitution had limited suffrage to 15,000 citizens. The election results declared an election win by a margin of nearly 240,000 votes.

YEARS LATER, in 1985, Samuel Kanyon Doe, who had seized power by the gun won another questionable elections which was followed by a coup atttempt led by Thomas Quiwonkpa. Doe and Quiwonkpa, one of the original seventeen coup leaders, had fallen out and Quiwonkpa went into exile to the United States, and many of his supporters, mainly, decommissioned security personnel, took refuge in neighboring Cote d'Ivoire where they began training to engage the Doe dictatorship.

THE 1985 ELECTIONS featured five different political parties, with televised debates involving all five candidates. The 1985 election commission said President Doe got 51 percent of the vote, and the opposition shared the remaining 49 percent. But many observers charged that President Doe stole the 1985 presidential election. The elections were characterized by widespread fraud and rigging.

On November 12, 1985, former Army Commanding Gen. Thomas Quiwonkpa invaded Liberia by way of neighboring Sierra Leone. Quiwonkpa almost succeeded in toppling the government of Samuel Doe. Members of the Krahn-dominated Armed Forces of Liberia repelled Quiwonkpa's attack and executed him in Monrovia. Edward Slanger, at the head of a group of AFL soldiers, claimed on television that they captured and killed Thomas Quiwonkpa. They paraded his body parts around Monrovia in a grisly ritual that Liberians will remember for years. Others were put on trial, and many were summarily executed.

THE COUP OF 1980 was preceded by a rice riots which from all indications showed the writings on the wall of what was to come. Doe’s rule lasted nine years and the bulk of Liberia’s bigger troubles emerged on the eve of Christmas in 1989 when Charles Taylor led his forces by way of Nimba.

IRONICALLY, THIS YEAR’S celebration returns to the scene of the crime as the post-war nation looks to lay the ghosts of yesteryears to rest. As we celebrate this year, let us all be mindful of from where we have come and where we are about to journey to.

IN RECENT WEEKS, MONTHS AND EVEN DAYS, several incidents appear to suggest that Liberia and Liberians have still not learned from their rugged past. Corruption which led to the 1980 coup is still a major problem and reconciliation is still miles away for many. A case in point is the reluctance of the Ministry of Finance to pay commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and numerous new cases of corruption in the post-war government.

TOO MANY LIVES have been lost and too many bridges broken along the way. We hope that for the sake of peace, the memory of the last 163 years would serve as a reminder to all as we celebrate this year, keeping in mind the negatives of the past and doing all we can to ensure that those ugly years are never repeated again in our history.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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