|Liberia - West Africa|
|Liberia civil war - over 200,000 people were killed|
So egregious were the crimes perpetrated by the warlords and their co-conspirators that the mention of their names even now strikes fear in the hearts of many Liberians. Knowing this, they continue to threaten and intimidate the larger population. This is why Liberians are eagerly looking forward to the 2011 election. It offers the best opportunity to create a Tribunal that will hold accountable persons bearing the greatest responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity which will lay the foundation for Rule of Law and Accountability. Moreover, through free and fair election, Liberians will have a shot at changing their fortunes peacefully and putting an end to impunity.
Most of the killings were carried out by children as young as 5 who were given drugs, guns and ammunition and turned loose on the population. Now they have become young adults but have yet to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society. The future of this generation of Liberians has been destroyed by individuals driven by greed, selfishness and blind ambition. There is no doubt the effects of this calamity will linger for decades.
This is an example of how those who have broken the law, dehumanized the population, and wrecked the entire infrastructure are currently holding Liberia hostage: Following cessation of hostilities in 2003 the idea of a truth commission was proposed by Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and others as a critical first step toward national healing and lasting peace. Not long following her inauguration as the president, Madam Sirleaf established the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). International resources, including veteran expertise were mobilized to assist the Commission’s work. Approximately US$10 Million (Ten Million United Stated Dollars) was invested in an elaborate undertaking to determine the best way forward. The process concluded 4 years later with a comprehensive report which contains sweeping recommendations. (TRC Final Report: https://www.trcofliberia.org/reports/final)
However, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, THE IRON LADY, has rejected the TRC report and refused to implement the recommendations. She is unwilling to discuss the atrocities but has instead used the report as a wedge to further divide the Liberian people. Why? Because the Truth Commission has recommended that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf not hold public office for a period of thirty (30) years, due to evidence related to her direct involvement in the carnage that killed and maimed more than 300,000 men, women and children, including 5 American Nuns.
But it is obvious Madam Sirleaf has no intention of acknowledging her role in the disaster, nor will she implement the TRC's recommendations without being forced to do so. Last January she launched her reelection campaign while addressing the National Legislature. “I will be a formidable candidate,” she declared. The President is even willing to provide cover for persons who have committed unspeakable atrocities if that will keep her in power. Impunity has yet again trumped accountability. This no doubt is dangerous!
The President’s behavior is a clear indication of how difficult - if not impossible – it is to restore normalcy in post-war Liberia under the leadership of persons who are connected in any way to the senseless destruction of lives and properties during the 15-year war. Faced with limited options Liberians have opted for election, believing it offers the best remedy. Should this fail to produce the desired results, the alternative is obvious.
In conclusion, reelecting Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the Presidency would be an endorsement of the status quo and a return to business as usual. Her government has failed the Liberian people! After five years of governance, graced by massive international support and goodwill, the Sirleaf administration has yet to produce a clear national agenda. The population is mired in hopelessness and despair. Chaos and lawlessness aptly describe the current order of business, as corruption spins out of control. Oftentimes one has to wonder if anyone is in charge. The legal system currently is in total disarray. Those who planned, financed and executed the 15-year carnage have not yet been brought to justice, and there is no plan to heal the nation. U.N. travel ban and assets freeze have yet to be enforced. Furthermore, persons guilty of rape and torture continue to elude justice; their victims have no redress. The issue of land dispute presents a clear and present danger. A large percentage of the population survives exclusively on remittances from abroad. Unemployment poses a serious threat to national security. Liberians in the thousands go to bed most nights hungry. There is increasing restlessness across the nation. And the presence of U.N. Troops gives a false sense of security.
It is time for a change! It is time for a fresh new start!! Surely it’s time for visionary leadership!!!
_______________________________________________________________________________The Author: T. Q. Harris, Jr. is a member of the Free Democratic Party (of Liberia). He is expected to be a Presidential candidate in the 2011 Election. Mr. Harris in 1997 was the Vice Presidential nominee of his Party. He’s currently the Chairman of Liberian Contemp UPS. For more information: http://www.tqharrisforpresident.com/; http://www.friendsoftq.org/; email@example.com; and Phone: (562) 216-3177