Friday, July 27, 2012

Liberia: Inside TQ Harris' 26 Message -Dealing with TRC Fiasco, Social Malaise, Godlessness

There are politicians, even though they may speak rarely, who remain steadfast and unbending on their position from regime to regime. In Liberia this category of politicians are few amongst them TQ Harris, known for his candid and fearless counsel on crucial national issues. Ahead of this year's National Independence Day, Harris has issued yet another thought-provoking position, as The Analyst reports.

Liberian political activist and former presidential contender TQ Harris has issued his version of the 165th Independence Anniversary message to the people of Liberia bordering on a wide range of issues.
The statement titled, "Liberia Desperately Needs a Vision," included issues ranging from the aborted TRC report, lack of patriotism, citizenship, amongst others.
TRC Report
The Liberian politician spoke of the long-debated issues of Justice and Reconciliation, saying that as the nation moves closer toward final resolution, it was time to turn our attention towards the immediate future beginning with a commonsense strategy to address pressing issues, including that of effective national leadership.
"What must be done when the current President refuses to heed the will of the Liberian people in keeping with the TRC Recommendations while members of the Legislature fill their pockets and armed robbers terrorize the already traumatized population?" Harris asserted.
He said: "Perhaps the sensible thing to do is reach out to one another and become our brother's and sister's keeper, and look within for solution. In so doing, we must search our neighborhoods identifying those in need--the sick, hungry, jobless, homeless, widows, single mothers…the downtrodden and share whatever little we can afford. Nurture the habit of giving, and we ultimately will defeat our enemies while building a wholesome, functional society."
"How we get a government that effects the change this country needs? Begin by strengthening our democracy and do not vote for a candidate on the basis of personal wealth. Instead, vote for men and women whom you can trust, regardless of educational background or social status. What is more preferable: having an educated thief as leader or an honest man who does not have a degree?" Harris further said.
He said the call for a war crimes court was not meant solely to punish those that perpetrated the violence, but also to promote accountability, rule of law and seek justice for the more than 250,000 defenseless men, women and children that were brutally raped, tortured and murdered. Today, our position remains unchanged.
"That's why we are encouraged by the expanding support for a war crimes court, especially amongst Liberians," TQ Harris said. "Unless those bearing the greatest responsibility for the atrocities are brought to justice, it is impossible for this country to move forward. Therefore we are comforted by the fact that after more than a decade of sustained pressure we now can say with a high degree of certainty that a Liberian war crimes court supported by the international community is inevitable."
Harris noted that in light of these positive developments we would like to use this occasion to express our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all those that have stood firm in support of the victims.
Good leadership
To move this country forward, TQ Harris said, "We must elect leaders with character and integrity -- men and women who stand on principles and are not tossed by every wind. I hope beginning with the 2014 Senatorial election and beyond you will take into account past mistakes before casting your vote."
The political activist said the way to create a vibrant political culture that includes a matured opposition.
"To change the current political culture Liberians must stay away from political parties that claim to have all the answers and a solution for every problem. Furthermore, reject political parties that are personal properties of individuals rather than standing institutions. The party that best serves the Liberian people is one that has ideas, vision and sound leadership," he said.
Social Counsel
TQ Harris used his Independence Day message to appeal to females of the younger generation, saying: "My young daughters, pledge this 26-Day that you will not become pregnant before marriage to the man who loves, cares, and respects you as a woman. Much has been said recently about the rise of women to positions of power, but it will profit nothing if your generation is not properly equipped to continue the trend. Preventing teenage pregnancy is the first battle you must win."
Then he said to the young men: "I say, do not father a child before marrying the woman you love, respect and cherish. Make this your pledge this 26-Day. Premature fatherhood may deny you the chance of a brighter future. "
He added: "I challenge you -- the young people of Liberia -- to commit yourselves to end the long-standing practice of creating single mother households where the children have different fathers. This in large part has contributed to the dysfunctional family that has weakened the fabric of our society."
Dual Citizenship
Regarding the contentious issue of dual citizenship, the renowned political activist as Liberians living abroad are vital to the country's reconstruction, they must not wait to be invited but rather seize the moment.
"Those that have obtained citizenship in foreign countries must lead the organizational and promotional efforts with absolute confidence that your compatriots at home will support and defend your right to retain your Liberian citizenship," he noted. "We now live in a global village and must act accordingly."
To eliminate confusion regarding citizenship, Harris further said the beleaguered masses that survive primary on remittances from relatives and friends abroad will demand legislation stating emphatically that under no circumstance shall a natural born Liberian forfeits his or her citizenship. So get to work and let us together rebuild this country."
He asked rhetorically: "Have you observed that in general foreigners in Liberia do not respect the citizens? This is about to end. The Inheritors of the land from this point forward will demand respect by becoming proactive. Banks, for example, that do not show on their books a respectable percentage of loans to Liberians will face the angst of the citizenry until Liberian-friendly policies are adopted.
"Likewise, businesses that do not hire a substantial number of Liberians at all levels will find it difficult to operate. And where it has been determined that an illegal alien is operating a business; that business will be shut down immediately. The same will apply to foreign-owned businesses that engage in unfair competition."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dr. Amos C. Sawyer has the moral obligation to tender in an unreserved posthumous apology to the late Dr Kesselly for bringing his name and reputable to national disrepute and embarrassment.

By Elijah Komontey Gbarweay

The recent outburst from Dr. Amos C. Sawyer on the late Dr. Edward Binyan Kesselly, former Chairman of the defunct Constitution Advisory Assembly and founding standard Bearer of the ruling Unity Party for allegedly tampering with the original tenure of office for all elective positions in the draft constitution was highly hypocritical and reactionary.

Dr. Sawyer who had earlier headed the Constitution Committee that drafted the original document, accused Dr. Sawyer and his committee of changing the proposed 4 year tenure of office across the board for the President, Vice President, Senators and Representatives to the present 6 to 9 years for the above positions. I believe that Sawyer is not being sincere with the Liberian people and his own conscience because he had enough time and opportunity to have spoken out during the life span of Dr Kesselly as well as changing the status quo at various time in our history. 

Dr Sawyer should have either protested or to stay out of any arrangement that went against his conviction. Sadly enough, he organised the Liberian People's Party (LPP) and was poised to fully take part in the 1985 elections before he was stopped by the military government. What stopped Sawyer from setting into motion reverting to his proposed 4 year tenure just in the same way he hurriedly manipulated the scrapping of the annual celebration of the April 12 revolution and introducing the LIBERTY to replace the JJ legal tender when he had less than 5% of the entire country under his control during his four year rule as Interim president?; better still, why did he do at the Good Governance Commission to advise the government to propose for an amendment seeking the re-introduction of a 4 year tenure across the board for all elective positions in Liberia? He did nothing absolutely on those ocassions but decided to use his comfort zone in Addis Ababa to cast aspersions on a late sage that rendered his services to this country. We have to be proactive to see clearly the antics of most of our old and recycled politicians; Liberians are not that gullible as they were some 30 or 40 years ago....Sincerely, Sawyer has the moral obligation to tender in an unreserved posthumous apology to the late Dr Kesselly for bringing his name and reputable to national disrepute and embarrassment.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Liberia's Taylor appeals war crimes conviction

Source: Yahoo News

Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor has appealed his conviction and 50-year jail sentence for war crimes in Sierra Leone, the international court handling the case said Thursday.
"Charles Taylor appeals against the judgement and the sentencing judgement... and respectfully requests that (the) appeals chamberreverse all the convictions entered against him," said the defence request made public by the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Taylor was found guilty in April of war crimes and crimes against humanity over the 1991-2001 civil war in Sierre Leone, for aiding and abetting "some of the most heinous crimes in human history".
He was the first former head of state to be convicted by an international court since the Nuremberg Nazi trials in 1946.
The former warlord was sentenced in May to 50 years in jail after his conviction on 11 counts for arming Sierra Leone's rebels in return for "blood diamonds" during the war which claimed 120,000 lives.
In the appeal document, his defence said the court had made "systematic errors" in evaluating evidence, and relied on "uncorroborated hearsay evidence as the sole basis for specific incriminating findings of fact".
The prosecution, which had sought an 80-year jail term for Taylor, has also appealed, according to the court which is based outside The Hague.
The court had found that Taylor was paid in diamonds mined in areas under the control of Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front rebels, who murdered, raped and mutilated their victims while forcing children to fight and keeping sex slaves.
Taylor, 64, maintained his innocence during the trial which saw a number of high-profile witnesses testify including British supermodel Naomi Campbell.
Liberia's president from 1997 to 2003, Taylor was arrested in March 2006 as he tried to flee from exile in Nigeria, after being forced to quit Liberia three years earlier under international pressure to end a civil war in his own country.
He was transferred to The Hague in 2006 amid fears that trying him in Freetown would pose a security threat. He was due to serve his sentence in a British jail.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Liberia Risks Another Civil War If...


A prominent Liberian has cautiously warned that Liberia risks another civil war if perpetrators of the country's 14-year- civil war go with impunity. Liberia's 14-year-civil war was occasioned by the death of about 250,000 people and displacement of one million people.

Mr. Joseph Cornormia, Sr. wants a war crimes court established here before the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) leaves the country. In a weekend chat with this paper, Mr. Cornormia said the establishment of a war crimes court is very necessary for the sustenance of peace and stability in the country.

He pointed out that all those who committed war crimes in Liberia must be prosecuted to serve as deterrence for others who may want to engage in such a destructive act (war).

He expressed fear that the country will witness another bloodbath if justice is denied. The former Bong County lawmaker maintained that the country will descend into chaos again once the perpetrators of the war are not prosecuted either locally or internationally.

The former Bong County lawmaker asserted that some of the perpetrators of the bloody Liberia conflict are serving in government, and that if they go with impunity, they could end up in the bush to fight again just for power.

"Those who committed war crimes know where to find the guns. If UNMIL leaves without the establishment of a war crimes court, those who committed war crimes will get weapons and so this is worrisome and troubling," He averred.

Against this backdrop, he asked the international community, including the United Nations and United States to establish a war crimes court before the departure of UNMIL.

He advised that UNMIL should not leave without justice, stressing without justice, genuine peace is impossible. Citing example of Sierra Leone, the prominent Liberian said there is no trouble in that neighboring country. "In Sierra Leone, everyone is pleased with peace, the UN forces have left the country and there is no trouble in Sierra Leone."

Meanwhile, Mr. Cornormia has appealed to UN, United States and other powerful nations to see wisdom in his call and act quickly before it gets too late.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Concerned Citizens of Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties in the Americas

Press Statement for immediate release

We, concerned citizens of Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties in the Diaspora, are alarmed by the current security conditions unfolding in Grand Gedeh County. Our collective concern stems from eye witnesses' accounts of the occupation of Grand Geedeh County by government military and paramilitary personnel who are allegedly invading the peace, privacies and sanctities of the residents. 

We, concerned citizens of Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties living in the Diaspora, extend heartfelt condolences to the families of fallen United Nations peacekeepers who lost their lives recently in Ivory Coast while on peacekeeping mission. We pray and hope that United Nations, Ivory Coast, and the Government of Liberia cordially work in unison through a viable legal framework to identify and bring to justice those that were recently involved in the acts of violence in Ivory Coast.

We gathered from various reports by means of direct telephone contacts in Liberia that few days after the unfortunate murder of United Nations peacekeepers and some Ivorian citizens, allegations were made against Liberia by Ivorian authorities of harboring perpetrators of the fracases that led to uprooting many of our peaceful citizens in Grand Gedeh County.   

The allegations continued that the Liberian government has not been able to do enough to either stop these fracases or protect citizens' rights in Grand Gedeh County.  Some reliable sources in Liberia have informed our citizens group that immediately after the border incident, ten suspected individuals were declared wanted by the Liberian authorities. Our information indicated that nine of the ten wanted by the state were of the Krahn ethnic group while the additional one individual hails from the Ivory Coast.  

Recent reports from Liberia filed with our concern citizens group alleged that homes of Liberian citizens residing in Grand Gedeh are consistently patrolled by   Liberian military and paramilitary personnel who are constantly engaged in harassments, arbitrary arrests, and prolonged detentions of peaceful Liberian citizens residing in Grand Gedeh County without charges.

We, the  concerned citizens of  Nimba and Grand Gedeh  wish to  express  our   resolute  and unequivocal  condemnation  of  this alleged blatant violation of the rights of the citizens of  Liberia residing in Grand Gedeh. We believe that the submission by all to the rule of law is the only path to lasting peace and genuine security in Liberia.  Unfortunately, the Liberian government has persistently demonstrated the lack of respect for the supreme law of the land, which is the Constitution of Liberia. 

We want to alert the government of Liberia that the arrests and detention of some Grand Gedeans for their alleged connection to mercenary activities in Ivory Coast and Government's imposition of curfew and alleged constant harassments and intimidations of peaceful citizens in Grand Gedeh is a contravention of the Liberian Constitution concerning FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS, CHAPTER III, and Article 11(a) through (c) and Article 12 through 21. 

In view of the forgoing, we are calling on the Government of Liberia to unconditionally release all those held in detention without charges for more than 48 hours without delay.  According to the Liberian Constitution, article 21(f), "every person arrested or detained shall be formally charged and presented before a court of competent jurisdiction within forty-eight hours.  Should the court determine the existence of a prima facie case against the accused, it shall issue a formal writ of arrest setting out the charge or charges and shall provide for a speedy trial." There shall be no preventive detention. Where the Government of Liberia has not statutorily and constitutionally declared war and imposed the state of emergency, the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of our fellow Liberian citizens residing in Grand Gedeh cannot be remotely restrained for any unconstitutional reasons.

We hereby call on the government of Liberia to adhere to Article 21, supra and release all sons and daughters of Grand Gedeh County and all other Liberians who are held against their will or in violation of their constitutional rights. We express our solidarity with Grand Gedeh County citizens living in the Diasporas and all those who are directly impacted by this incident. We again call on the Government of Liberia to respect the fundamental rights of all Liberians living in Grand Gedeh County by removing all unconstitutional barriers including check points that tend to illegally restrain the freedoms of the people and violate their privacies, and safety in Grand Gedeh County.  


Mr. Anthony Leewaye, Sr.   ------- Concerned citizen of Nimba
Tel: 1-(763) 528-3309
Mr. Cyrus S. Cooper, Jr. --------
Concerned Citizen of Grand-Gedeh/Former Senatorial Candidate
Grand Gedeh County  
Tel: 1-(347) 965-1962

Liberia Needs a War Crimes Court!

Hi Everyone,

Stand for justice in Liberia! Let those who caused the deaths of over 250,000 innocent people not be allowed to walk freely.
So I created a petition to Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia, International Criminal Court, Her Excellency Madam Marjon V. Kamara, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Liberia to the United Nations, Union of Liberian Association in the Americas, The Oregon State House, The Oregon State Senate, Governor John Kitzhaber, The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and President Barack Obama, which says:
Dear Friend, 

Since cessation of hostilities in 2003 Liberians have not taken definitive measures to prevent a repeat of another civil madness. The absence of war in Liberia currently, which is only due primarily to the presence of UN Troops on the ground, does not equate to peace. To believe otherwise is a complete illusion. 

Unlike Sierra Leone, Rwanda and other countries where in the post-conflict period maximum attention has been given to tackling the root causes of the violence in order to ensure deterrence; Liberia, on the other hand, has done just the opposite. Those who orchestrated the mayhem are now ruling the country and dictating the pace of reconciliation. This is no way to restore peace following a brutal war where more than 250,000 civilians were murdered and almost the entire population uprooted. 

Also, while these very mayhem orchestrators are a tiny minority having more than enough to live comfortably, the vast majority of the population has nothing to live for; it is impossible for there to be sustainable peace. 

The vast majority of Liberians live on less than one dollar a day; undoubtedly, there is a need for change in the way Liberia is governed. As we can all see today, Liberia's just ended elections has produced a grieve cause for concern. Liberia is about to turn yet again into a one-party state, knowing full well this produces dictatorship, dictatorship causes rebellion; rebellion leads to war; and war means bloodshed!!! 

Evil has overtaken Liberia and is again prepared to destroy everything in sight. Liberians need a form of relief from the people who have terrorized their country for the past 25 years and dehumanized the population.

 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. We want you to think about what is about to happen in that part of the world. Stand for justice in Liberia! 

Let those who caused the deaths of over 250,000 innocent people not be allowed to walk freely. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. 

Speak out because this is the right thing to do!!! 

 Bernard Gbayee Goah, President, Operation We Care for Liberia

Monday, July 9, 2012

The guns are now silent, how about going home???

By Bernard Gbayee Goah
President, Operation We Care for Liberia

The first mass exodus of Liberians from their homeland began in the early 1980s following the overthrow of President William Richard Tolbert and the public execution of 13 of his top officials. The departures accelerated rapidly due to the violent human rights abuses that ensued. Ten years later the country suffered extreme violence at the hands of Charles Taylor, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and others. Liberians were again forced to leave their country because of threat to personal safety. There was neither peace nor Freedom in Liberia. Living in the country was extremely difficult and dangerous. The entire population was uprooted and dehumanized through the use of excessive violence, which includes, mass rape, gruesome murders and other unspeakable atrocities. 

There are thousand of Liberians now living in exile for fear of their lives as a result of what took pace in their country. However, they still want to go home.

Liberians living in exile want to return home to reunite with their families and friends. They want to rediscover the beauty of their heritage and resume the pursuit of their individual purpose. They want to re-establish the bonds of friendship, family and nationhood. But when they look at the current leaders of their country today, they become more confused and don’t know if they should go home at this time. As a result of the United Nations peacekeeping troops in Liberia the guns are now silent, but those who use force to drive these Liberians into exile for years are now holding top security positions in government. Liberians living in exile are not deterred by the deplorable condition of their country's infrastructure; it is the threat to their lives that is keeping them away.

The first task for the sake of Peace and Unity in Liberia should be to create a safe environment where Liberians can reunite and mourn the loss of their dear friends and loved ones. They need time to cry, wail, and release their deep inner pain and anger, reflecting on the awful past while preparing for the promises of the new millennium. What is required to create such a safe environment is to establish a reasonable justice system in place that is capable of holding people accountable for acts committed.

In spite of the enormous difficulties Liberians continue to experience in exile, the lack of interest on the part of their Government in restoring the Rule of Law has discouraged Liberians from returning home since recent elections.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has announced that Liberians living in exile are no longer considered refugee because their country is now safe. UNHCR should have considered the human rights implications should these people return to their homeland. It must be clear to officials of the UNHCR that these individuals are likely to encounter more suffering and would be exposed to greater danger if they should unwillingly return to Liberia where Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Prince Johnson, George Boley, Alihiji Kroma, and others move around freely.
Today in Liberia, elements within the various security apparatus who are personally responsible for disappearances, human rights abuses and secret killings also continue to walk freely.

Rather than pursue national Healing and Reconciliation, the Present Liberian Government has detained more than 7 persons from Grand Gedeh County indefinitely for allegedly ambushing UN troops across the Liberian Ivorian boarder. While it has been established that Majority of those arrested had no fish to fry in what took place in the Ivory Coast, because they are Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Charles’ wartime rivals they become easy targets. If these individuals are found “guilty”, as charged, by law, the consequences are very high. Is this any way to encourage Repatriation, Reconciliation and National Healing in a society that is extremely polarized by a long, brutal and divisive war?

Let’s assume for a moment that those young people arrested carried out the killings in the Ivory Coast even though evidence suggests otherwise. The issue here is: Having given their support to the NPFL rebels, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and former President Charles Taylor have set a terrible precedent in Liberia: Their message to the youth is that they can take anything by force, even if it means destroying the properties of others and committing murder. The minds of our young people are being poisoned into believing that the use of deadly force in order to achieve ones objective can lead to elevation and possible leadership endowment. This is wrong! This is bad! This is downright uncivilized and evil; therefore, it must be stopped!

There will be no lasting peace in Liberia unless those individuals responsible for atrocities and destruction of the country's infrastructure during the country’s civil war are brought to Justice.

What guarantees do we have that after rebuilding Liberia a "Taylor-copycat" will not again emerge and destroy everything, killing tens of thousands of innocent people and sending many more into exile? Justice does not always mean an eye for an eye; it is also a process for establishing accountability and ensuring that there exists a level of deterrence. And this is only possible in Liberia if the judicial system in Liberia is overhauled and rendered completely independent of the Legislative and Executive Branches of Government. The country's Legal System must be impartial and transparent. Judges must be elected rather than appointed to office. 

This is important because "all power is inherent in the people. All free governments are instituted by their authority and for their benefit and they have the right to alter and reform the same when their safety and happiness so require. In order to ensure democratic government which responds to the wishes of the governed, the people shall have the right at such period, and in such manner as provided for under this Constitution, to cause their public servants to leave office and to fill vacancies by regular elections and appointments."


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

Monday, July 2, 2012

Good Governance: A foundation for Collective Security

A speech delivered by Tiawan Saye Gongloe at the closing program of the St. Anthony of Padua School, Louisiana, Montserrado County, Republic of Liberia On June 24, 2012

The administration and members of the faculty
Students, parents and guardians
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen

Permit me, first, to thank the student body and the administration of the St. Anthony of Padua School for inviting me to serve as the keynote speaker for this year’s closing program. Let me also congratulate those students who are today getting their just reward for hard and honest labor by being promoted to a higher grade. Further, I admonish those who did not work hard this year and will, therefore, repeat their classes during the next academic year, to learn from their peers who are leaving them behind and change their situations for the next academic year. Furthermore, I want to thank the teachers, parents, guardians and those who generously provided financial support to the needy among these students, for their collective efforts in preparing these students for the challenge of making Liberia a better country.

I hope that my remarks on this occasion will serve as a motivation for the students of this institution to study harder in order to be in the position to change Liberia for the better. It is also my expectation that my speech on this occasion will stimulate the teachers and the administration of this great institution of learning to become more dedicated to imparting the type of knowledge that will make their students to become strong, dedicated and honest agents of transformation. The Government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has made commendable efforts in transforming Liberia. However, there are lots of challenges in the effort of transforming a country like Liberia that still faces systemic problems. These challenges are, largely, in the nature of the will to overcome old habits in the governance of our country. As a nation, we need to overcome the old habits that kept our country underdeveloped and led its citizens to engage in a violent civil conflict, in a manner, unprecedented in our history.

The hope of a transformed Liberia in which the security, rights and welfare of the people are clearly seen and felt by every citizen as a primary concern of government is what every citizen expects the Government of Liberia to give. History has shown that this kind of hope is impossible with bad governance. Bad governance in Liberia resulted in the following state of affairs: a brutal military overthrow of one hundred thirty three years of constitutional rule followed by ten years of a brutal dictatorship, fourteen years of civil conflict and the sentencing of a Liberian President for aiding and abetting war crimes in a neighboring country. Bad governance is, therefore, a threat to our collective security.

It is within this context of the role of the quality of governance in keeping a nation peaceful and secured that I have chosen to speak to you today on the topic: Good Governance: A Foundation for collective security. Good governance is an atmosphere of governance in which government shows an unwavering commitment to maintaining the security of its citizens and seeking their welfare in an open and transparent manner, as well as, on a fair and equal basis. The standard of what is considered good governance is determined based on the type or system of government in power. If the government in power is a monarchy, then what is considered good governance is determined by the king or the queen as the case may be, through edicts, proclamations that have the force of law.

If the government in power is a military government, then what is considered good governance is determined by the military junta through the issuance of military decrees. But if the government in power is a democratic government, then what is considered good government is determined by the people through the constitution, written by them and the statute laws passed by their duly elected legislators, as well as executive orders issued by their duly elected president.

An atmosphere of good governance also exists, where those who govern are guided by the wishes and aspirations of the people as expressed by them. For example, the government of President Johnson-Sirleaf has made the reconstruction of roads, schools, medical facilities and other basic infrastructures primary in her governance of Liberia because in her consultation with the people across the country, they directed her to make the issue of infrastructure, especially road re-construction her number one priority. This is an example of good governance in a democratic system of governance. With the meager resources that her government has, she has made laudable efforts in reconstructing roads and constructing new roads to areas that had not been connected to central government by motor roads in the past. An example of such effort is the Belleh Yallah motor road.

Yet, the President has fallen short of other important indicators of good governance. There are two of these indicators that I want to emphasize here today. First the President has not been keen on keeping her promise not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Second, the President, on some fundamental issues, has ignored the Constitution and Statute Laws of Liberia. I have chosen to emphasize these points because the President both in her 1997 and 2005 campaigns made the issues of respect for human rights and the rule of law as well as making a clean break with the past, key components of her platform. We believed her and campaigned vigorously for her. When she won the election of 2005, she established a transitional committee to help her develop a general framework of governance and the reconstruction of Liberia.

In her marching orders to the transitional committee, the president, publicly, said that she wanted it to be clear to everyone in Liberia that her government would be formed using the following criteria: one, that nobody with a poor human rights record would be appointed by her and she made Mr. Paul Mulbah, the former police director under President Charles Taylor an example of the kind of people who would have no place in her government; two, that nobody with a history of corruption would serve in her government; three, that nobody would be in her government and at the same time be engaged in private business, in order to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest; and four, that she would appoint only competent persons in her government, i.e. persons with the required education and experience.
During her inaugural address on January 16, 2006, President Sirleaf said, “We know that your vote was a vote for change…We have heard you loudly, and we humbly accept your vote of confidence and your mandate.” She went further to say, “ Today, we wholeheartedly embrace the change. We recognize that this change is not just for the sake of change, but a fundamental break with the past, thereby requiring that we take the bold and decisive steps to address the problems that for decades have stunted our progress, undermined national unity and kept old and new cleavages in ferment.” She further promised to form a small and efficient government.

Has the President kept her promise on changing from the old ways of governing Liberia? My answer is a resounding no. Has the President not appointed anyone with questionable human rights record? In less than two years after she singled out the name of Paul Mulbah as having bad human rights record, she appointed him as the Advisor to the Liberia National Police. Has she not appointed anyone who has in the past being accused of corruption? Are there not persons in government directly or indirectly engaged in or connected to private business ventures? Are there not people in government with questionable credentials? Has she not expanded government beyond what it was when she came to office? I leave you with your own conclusions. However, it is important to state here that the failure of past Liberian governments to make the fundamental change that our President promised us is what led us to fourteen years of a devastating civil conflict.

It is important that the President takes note of this historical fact and correct herself in order to keep our country secured. The President is aware that she cannot say one thing to us and do something else. When the President says one thing and does the opposite or does nothing about what she says, she, by such act, undermines public confidence in her government. The frequency of such act leads to a breach of public trust in government.

A breach of public trust by a President is a threat to the collective security of a nation. Our history has shown that it was the breach of public trust by the past Presidents of Liberia that led this country to a complete lack of confidence in government and the breakdown of law and order. Our collective security is, certainly, directly linked to the quality of governance, in this country. The President and her advisors are advised to seriously reflect on this issue because the President’s ability to unite Liberia, keep it reconciled and progressively developed is undermined by those steps she has taken and continues to take.

The result is a growing lack of public confidence in her ability to lead. History has shown us in Liberia that it is important for the President of Liberia to listen and take corrective steps when people are still talking because when they become quiet, a situation develops whereby the top of the water is still and yet boiling underneath. We have experienced the result of such a situation many times as a nation and do not want to experience it again.

Liberians are like the Jews of Biblical Egypt, who while on their way to the promise land after four hundred years in captivity did not want to see any sign of their experience under the Pharaohs, in their leaders. Liberians do not want to see any of the signs of what they suffered under the True Whig Party, the People’s Redemption Council and under the National Patriotic Party. Such signs undermine the hope of Liberians in their collective effort to reach the promise land of a just and humane social order under a well-developed democratic governing system. The hope of a free, democratic, progressive and prosperous Liberia is what we voted for in 2005. And that is what all Liberians expected of President Sirleaf when they voted for her in 2005 and 2011. As a consequence of this expectation, Liberians believed the President when she said to us in her 2006 inaugural speech, “I will lead by example. I will expect and demand that everyone serving in my administration lead by example.” An example of saying one thing, but doing the opposite is not a good example for anyone to follow, because it undermines public trust and is therefore a threat to our collective security.

The second issue is that the President has not respected our constitution and statute laws on certain fundament issues. One of such issues is the appointment of family members in government. This is called nepotism. In a monarchy this is not a problem. Members of the royal family such as princes, princesses, dukes and duchesses, counts, viscounts, marquees and earls, amongst others are privileged citizens and are, therefore, given preferential treatment over the subjects of the thrown. In a democracy the situation is different. The standard of treatment for all citizens is the same or better still, should be the same. A democratic country is like a corporation with one class of shares. All citizens in a democracy should have equal shares in the corporate state. For example, the President of Liberia and the genitor at the executive mansion have equal shares in the corporate state called Liberia. The Constitution of a democratic state and its statute laws provide the standards of treatment of citizens by the government of Liberia.

Under the Constitution of Liberia, nepotism is prohibited. The Constitution of Liberia considers nepotism as an abuse of office and a corrupt practice. Article 5(c) of the Constitution states, “The Republic shall take steps, by appropriate legislation and executive orders to eliminate sectionalism and tribalism, and such abuses of office as the misuse of government resources, nepotism and all other corrupt practices.” By this provision, nepotism is considered an abuse of office and a corrupt practice.

The President took oath to “ …support, uphold, protect and defend the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Liberia…” She is not at liberty to violate this solemn pledge to the Liberian people. The President should, therefore, be aware of the legal consequences of the violation of her oath of office. The appointment of her sons and other family members in government is a violation of article 5(c) of the Constitution of Liberia. Let me note here that article 5(c) of the Constitution has no exception. Therefore, the President’s arguments that her sons are qualified and they are citizens of Liberia are not legally valid justifications for her nepotistic appointments under Liberian Law. With the President’s appointment of her family members in government, has she not lost the moral authority to punish any member of her government for engaging in nepotism? Of course, she has!

Another law to which the President has not paid keen attention is the law that provides for mandatory representation of each county in the cabinet. The Executive Law of Liberia at section 10.2 provides for the president of Liberia to appoint at least one member of her cabinet from each of the counties of Liberia. Some counties have complained that the President has not appointed a cabinet member from their counties. They are right and the President is wrong for not appointing her cabinet in compliance with the Executive Law. I believe that our legislators made that law to ensure that every county is included in the governance of this country at the highest level of decision-making. This is how our law-makers wanted the government of inclusion to be formed. The President has also violated the Executive Law by appointing persons into positions that were not created by law. Apart from the office of the President, she has no authority to appoint anyone to a position that does not exist in the Executive Law. The creation of positions in government is given to the legislative branch by the constitution of Liberia, because it is a law-making function. The President should take steps to correct herself on these matters. If she does not change the situations that I am highlighting here, she will be promoting impunity in the highest office of our land. A good government is the one that respects the law and does what the people want, a responsive and accountable government.

Lastly, the President has not done well in supervising the Acting Mayor of Monrovia, regarding the respect for human rights. There have been repeated media reports of assaults and other actions by the Acting Mayor against the dignity of the residents of Monrovia, without the President taking action. Besides the President’s pronounced commitment to respect for human rights, the Constitution of Liberia and international treaties to which Liberia is a state party prohibit cruel and inhumane treatment of people. The President cannot allow the humiliation of the citizens and residents of Liberia by any of her appointees no matter how good and dedicated that person is.

If the Acting Mayor cannot clean Monrovia, which she is doing with a high degree of dedication and results, without abusing the rights of individuals then, she is not the right person to clean the city. There can be no justification for the violation of people’s rights, except as provided by law. Governance at every level must be in accordance with law.

Similarly, it is wrong for officials of the Ministry of Finance to stop civil servants from entering the ministry because they come to work after 8:00AM, the time prescribed by the Civil Service Standing Orders. The Civil Service Standing Orders provides measures that should be taken against civil servants who violate it and shutting doors or gates of a ministry to employees who report to work late is not one of those measures. Governance in a democracy is by law and not the wishes and caprices of those appointed or elected to serve. Democratic governance has no place for instilling fear and intimidation or diminishing human dignity in any manner, shape or form. The President must stop the humiliation at the Ministry of Finance by instructing the officials there to follow the law. There is no doubt that the intention of the officials of the Ministry of Finance to promote punctuality is good but they are using an approach that is unacceptable under Liberian Law. All of these actions are elements of bad governance and they pose threat to our collective security because they have the potential to cause mass disenchantment.

Can the President be excused for these indicators of bad governance? My answer is no. President Sirleaf unlike President Samuel K. Doe is a well-educated and experienced President. We campaigned for her because she had all of the qualities for excellent performance as a President, qualities that not many presidents of Liberia since 1847 possessed before becoming president. Not only did she graduate from the world’s best public policy school, she also served in the Government of Liberia as a cabinet minister and chairman of the Governance Reform Commission, worked in very senior positions in the world bank, several world class private banks, the United Nations, amongst other experiences, before declaring her intention to run for the office of the President of Liberia. She was the best qualified candidate amongst all based on the quality of education and experience. Unlike President Charles Taylor, she was an advocate of good governance, respect for the rule of law and human rights and suffered for her role as an advocate, before running for the highest office of the land. It is only logical to consider her failure to follow the tenants of good governance, as I have dealt with here today, as a deliberate and well-considered act. She definitely has no excuse. She knows exactly what she doing and its implication.

I am pointing these things out for her and her close advisors to take note of and correct the situation because the failure of President Sirleaf to do well on any issue of governance will not only mare the image of Liberia and Africa’s first female President, but also, establish a bad foundation for post conflict governance in Liberia and perhaps other parts of Africa and therefore, dampens the hope of our people for a progressive and secured society.

The other reason is that a future president of Liberia could justify his action by referring to the failures of President Sirleaf because he/she would be quick to say, “if the President who was a graduate of the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, held cabinet post in Liberia, held senior posts at the World Bank and the United Nations, served as chairman of the Governance Reform Commission, amongst other areas before becoming president, could not fully follow the law, or could say one thing and do the other, or could refuse to listen to the people on some cardinal issues, why bother me?” This kind of behavior certainly threatens our collective security and diminishes the Country’s prospects for good governance under any leadership.

President Sirleaf cannot afford to leave such legacy. On the blood of the estimated three hundred thousand who died in the Liberian civil conflict, nearly ten percent of the population of Liberia, I caution the President to re-examine her record on these issues and change for the better. To the memory of advocates who suffered for good governance in Liberia such as Albert Porte, Tuan Wreh, D. Twe, Weewee Debah, Tonieh Richardson, Wuo Garbe Tappia, Jim Holder, Robert Philips, Edward Beyan Kesselly, Gabriel Kpolleh amongst others and so many advocate journalists, the last of whom was Tom Kamara, that she musters the courage to do the right thing by changing for the better. Doing what is right should not, by any stretch of imagination ,be a courageous act. This is my wish for our President. I make this appeal out of friendship and deep respect for her. I am making it publicly because I believe it is more effective to do so, than doing so, privately. I also believe that by raising these issues publicly, I am providing an opportunity for the necessary public debate that could weaken those who may want to use the President’s second term to be reckless in their theft of public money and abuse of their closeness to her.

This speech is therefore, intended to give the President the required internal strength to change her inclination towards what I consider tendencies of arbitrariness and to free her from the shackles of those who she finds it difficult to say no to, for the good of our country. I could have sought an opportunity to whisper to the President but I just find it difficult, very difficult to whisper about my country.

Let me conclude by advising President Sirleaf to take note of the fact that she is no more the only female President in Africa. There is now one in Malawi. While nobody can take away her historical place as the first female president of an African country, Africans and observers of Africa have begun to compare the quality of governance coming from both Liberia and Malawi. Our President should be aware that she is now in competition with the President of Malawi on the quality of governance and the referees are closely watching the two players. It is my hope, and I believe the hope of every Liberian that in the end our president will be adjudged the better of the two female presidents.

President Sirleaf should also remember that she is the first President in nearly hundred years to be elected in a credible democratic process and the only president to have ended a term and get a another mandate from the people, since President Tubman, who died in office, nearly forty one years ago. I advise her not to squander this glorious opportunity. Instead, the President should use her second term to lay a firm foundation for good governance for all times in Liberia. This is the legacy that Liberians expect her to leave behind when her second term ends. To achieve this, she must, as a matter of necessity, subordinate her personal interest and the interest of her family and friends to the collective interest of the Liberian people. This is the sacrifice that President Sirleaf has to make if she wants to be remembered in Liberia as a great leader in Liberia and on the African continent for generations unborn.

Many of us who campaigned for her expected that she would, at the end of her leadership, attain the same level of greatness that President Nelson Ohlehlahla Madeba Mandela has on the African continent and before him other selfless leaders like Presidents Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Patrice Lumumba, Modibu Keita, amongst, other African patriots. Our President still has chance, if she is prepared to change for the better. No well-meaning Liberian wants President Sirleaf to be remembered as just another African President.

I hope you students will reflect on what I have said here, today, and use your education to respect the laws of our country and to be honest and respectful of the Liberian people, by doing what you say, when you find yourselves in positions of trust, in the future, so that Liberia can be safe, secured, peaceful, progressive and prosperous, for the collective security of the Liberian people.

I thank you.


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