|Counselor Jerome Verdier, former TRC boss|
Former warlord, now senator and presidential candidate, Prince Johnson, has endorsed the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) listing him as a notorious perpetrator and one of those that should be prosecuted for alleged war crimes during the country's 14-year war.
Delivering his acceptance speech in Saclepea, Nimba County when he selected wartime ally and one of former President Charles Taylor's lawyers, J. Lavali Supuwood as his running mate, Mr. Johnson said, "the entire TRC report should be implemented.
"I would have liked for the entire TRC report to be implemented. But, unfortunately, President (Ellen) Sirleaf decided that her desire to run for the Presidency was more important than implementing the recommendations of the TRC. At her State of the Union Address in January 2010, President decided to trash the TRC report and announced to the world that she was running for President, even though the TRC has banned her for 30 years. By her action, she completely undermined the recommendations for sanctions."The controversial TRC report lists Senator Johnson, once the feared commander of the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia, a splinter faction of Mr. Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia, (NPFL) as "the most notorious."
Thus, by unconditionally endorsing the TRC, Mr. Johnson, one of those who resisted the report in its earlier stage, has now opted for its implementation, which encompasses his and others' trial for alleged war crimes.
He said: "The second area of reconciliation is legal justice. This means holding people accountable for abusing the rights of the people. We set up the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to ensure that we had genuine peace. At first we all had reservation about the TRC report. But after reading the entire final report, I must say a big thank you to Chairman Jerome Verdier, Massa Washington, John Stewart and other commissioners who were brave enough to put my name, President Sirleaf and other prominent Liberians in the report.
"I criticized the TRC report because I felt it was not fair to me, as I participated in the war to ensure that the people of Nimba were not being slaughtered. I felt then that I was fighting for political freedom. Under my leadership during the war, I protected civilians against brutal warriors. I also said that the "gun that liberates should not rule." I followed that basic principle and allowed in Liberia the IGNU Government under Dr. Amos Sawyer.
"I was therefore selfless to allow another Liberian to take power when I had the opportunity to do so. This is why we have thanked Sekou Damante Konneh, Kabineh Ja'neh, Dr. Vamba Kanneh, George Dweh, Yaya Nimley and others who also did not take power by force, but allowed Charles Taylor to leave Liberia for an interim Government not headed by them. Like me, LURD and MODEL could have used military power to take power but we did not because we love democracy.
"The democracy and the freedom of association and press that we enjoy is because of me and others who refused to take power by force but instead allowed politicians to take power when we had risked our reputation to remove dictatorships. But today we are maligned for the peace and stability that we brought to Liberia. This is a measure of democracy, which is our ability to withstand criticisms of all kinds."