Friday, August 6, 2010

All My Discussions With Mr. Taylor Were About Peace In Sierra Leone, Issa Sesay Tells Special Court

Source:  The Trial of Charles Taylor of Liberia

A former Sierra Leonean rebel leader testifying for Charles Taylor today told the Special Court for Sierra Leone judges in The Hague that all the discussions he had with the former Liberian president focused mainly on how to bring the conflict in Sierra Leone to an end.

Issa Hassan Sesay, a former interim leader of the Revolutionary Unit Front (RUF) who has been convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone for his role in the Sierra Leone conflict and who now is serving a 52 year jail sentence in Rwanda, has spent more than two weeks testifying for Mr. Taylor. In his testimony today, Mr. Sesay gave credence to a regular theme that was prevalent in Mr. Taylor’s own testimony: that Mr. Taylor was a peacemaker and his involvement with rebel forces in Sierra Leone was solely to bring an end to the conflict in that country.

When asked today by a defense lawyer for Mr. Taylor, Silas Chikera what the nature of his discussions with Mr. Taylor were in the year 2000, Mr. Sesay had this to say:

“All the discussion I had with Charles Taylor in 2000 was about peace in Sierra Leone, and it is in those discussions that peace started and that’s why peace returned to Sierra Leone.”

Mr. Taylor has long maintained that he only had dealings with RUF rebels because he was working with the leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to bring peace to Sierra Leone. Prosecutors on the other hand have said that Mr. Taylor was in control of the rebel group and that in his regular meetings with RUF commanders in Liberia, he received diamonds from the rebels, gave them arms and ammunition for use in Sierra Leone, and helped them to plan certain operations that led to the commission of crimes against the civilian population of the country. According to prosecutors, when Mr. Sesay became leader of the RUF, Mr. Taylor instructed him not to allow the RUF to be disarmed by United Nations peacekeepers. Mr. Taylor has denied these assertions. Today, Mr. Sesay told the court that the allegations are lies because Mr. Taylor was a peacemaker.

“Mr. Taylor was concerned about the disarmament in Sierra Leone and the commitment of the RUF…Even Mr. Taylor was one of the ECOWAS leaders who brokered peace in Sierra Leone,” Mr. Sesay told the court.

Mr. Sesay also refuted the testimony of a previous prosecution witness Abu Keita, who in 2008 told the court that on the instructions of Mr. Taylor, Mr. Sesay asked RUF fighters to attack Guinea with the aim of unseating that country’s president, the late Lansana Conte. Mr. Keita told the court that he was among those who were sent to attack Guinea. Mr. Sesay denied this account, saying instead that the the RUF only entered into Guinea when they repelled Guinean forces who had attacked RUF positions in Sierra Leone.

When asked by Mr. Chikera why the RUF had to go into Guinean territory, Mr. Sesay said, “It was to ensure that the Guineans did not attack RUF position and they had been doing it from 1998.”

“The Guineans had been crossing and attacking RUF positions in 1998 and the RUF had been in Kailahun since 1991 and they never crossed into Guinea but the Guineans started attacking RUF positions from [19] 98 up to 2000…When they returned to Guinea, RUF chased them there,” Mr. Sesay said.

Mr. Sesay dismissed as lies, claims by Mr. Keita when he testified for the prosecution that Mr. Sesay sent him and some men to attack Guinea.

“I did not send Abu Keita or any other person to attack Guinea. He is lying. That is a lie,” Mr. Sesay told the court.

Mr. Sesay told the court that Mr. Keita had made up stories against Mr. Taylor because the Prosecutor had made promises to send him and his family abroad and to give him some money for his testimony. He said when the Prosecutor had not honoured his promise, Mr. Keita had threatened to take legal action against the Prosecutor in the Sierra Leonean courts. Mr. Sesay said he read about Mr. Keita’s threat of court action in the Sierra Leonean newspapers while he (Sesay) was in detention in Sierra Leone.

Mr. Sesay’s testimony continues on Tuesday. On Monday, Hollywood actress Mia Farrow and Naomi Campbell’s former agent Carole White will take the witness stand to testify about allegations that Mr. Taylor gave Ms. Campbell a gift of rough diamonds in South Africa in 1997. Ms. Campbell herself testified about the incident yesterday.

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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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