|Bernard Gbayee Goah|
Published on 12.28.10
Commenting on events in Liberia where a rising tide of the concern for impunity has engulfed the country following the killing of more than 200,000 Liberians during its 14 years Civil War, Bernard Gbayee Goah writes: "Crimes sponsored, masterminded, or carried out by a handful of individuals cannot be conferred upon an entire nationality, in this case Liberians.”
Operation We Care for Grand Gedeh (OWCGG) has become aware that the Sirleaf government is using calculated tactics designed to make the Liberian people believe that implementing the TRC recommendations would bring to book every child soldier, who were predominantly indigenous children, recruited to fight for warring factions during the course of the Liberian Civil War. Such tactics are not in the interest of peace, but rather a misinterpretation of the TRC final recommendations against the will and wishes of the Liberian people. It is unacceptable for President Sirleaf and her accomplices to capitalize on the country’s high rate of illiteracy to get away with crimes that should be handled through the legal process in a court of law.
Such tactics said to be carried out by the Sirleaf led government has the propensity to derail the peace process as well as breed disunity amongst the people of Liberia. Using the TRC report as a medium to bring about disunity is a calculated evil.
Operation We Care for Grand Gedeh opposes current attempts made by the Ellen Sirleaf government to influence the outcome of the pending national referendum. We have heard that President Sirleaf and her group intend to place her on a safe political ride as regards the 10 years residency clause for persons seeking the presidency of Liberia. Such manipulation is unacceptable, and not in the interest of the country especially so during these critical moments when Liberians look forward to lasting solutions and durable peace after more than 14 years of madness. Either the President does not meet the residency clause requirement as stipulated in the elections guidelines of Liberia or such clause should not apply to the 2011 presidential elections at all.
We do not see the 2011 elections as being any different than the 2005 elections, giving the current situation in Liberia where it is more scaring for Liberians to return home because of the presence of Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Prince Johnson and other warlords who continue to move freely without question. Any elections that are held under such circumstances are considered special meaning they cannot be considered normal under a full constitutional protection.
Reducing the residency clause to 5 years only to make President Sirleaf qualify for the 2011 elections, is a complete insanity on the part of whoever chooses to do so because it will not serve the interest of the Liberian people.
Acting ethically and intending to be ethical are not always the same. President Sirleaf may have intended to take the best course of action she believed would move Liberia forward. Holding all else constant, we are also very much aware that the President did not really know what the best course of action was as well as the aftermath of her perceived intent when she sent her entire cabinet on administrative leave. We call on Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to reframe from such acts only because she has the power to do so. While it may be true that President Johnson-Sirleaf has the constitutional backing to appoint ministers, once they are appointed, they become accountable to the public also, not just the President.
Cabinet ministers serve as advisors to the President on important issues ranging from education to national security. We see the President’s actions as calculated to exclude potential opponents from her administration only to favor family members, loyalists, and friends. We believe that such behavior is a form of nepotism. Such decision resembles that of madam Sirleaf’s personal decisions made to support Charles Taylor rebels in the 1990s only to say she was deceived, refusing to accept responsibility of the role she played. We question the President’s judgment.
With Liberia declared in 2010 by the German-based Transparency International as the most corrupt country on the face of the planet, we are convinced that such declaration is a direct sign of failure on the part of the Sirleaf led government. We condemn the Sirleaf led administration for failing to combat corruption as she promised during her 2005 political campaign; declaring that corruption would be her number-one enemy.
Giving the high level of corrupt officials in her government, we have come to the conclusion that fighting corruption in the current Liberian government would mean fighting against the interests of the President herself.
We condemn President Sirleaf’s refusal to acknowledge that contemporary problems require contemporary solutions and that her “good old day” way of doing politics may be obsolete as well as retardant in modern day Liberia. After five years in office, President Sirleaf has just realized the importance of automating the banking systems in Liberia. We see such realization as overdue.
The year 2006 should have been the year of automation of Liberia’s banking systems.If that was done, tracking a paper trail would have been easy, thereby minimizing corruption and thus improving accountability within government institutions. Having worked at Western institutions and the World Bank, failure of President Sirleaf to encourage these institutions of transaction automation machines at all government ministries convinces one that it is a deliberate way to institutionalize corruption.
Operation We Care for Grand Gedeh condemns tactics currently being used by her Excellency President Johnson-Sirleaf’s government which only prioritizes road development in certain areas within Liberia but leaves the whole of the Southeastern region unimproved. We believe these decisions are symptoms of segregation. The people of the Southeastern region are Liberians, they deserve good farm to market roads in order to transport their produce to market in the capital.
We condemn President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s administration for expressing high expectations in 2005 when she promised the Liberian people that enough jobs would be created when she took office, only to see young Liberian women engaging in prostitution to feed themselves and their children because of the lack of jobs.
We strongly condemn remarks made by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in which she said that prostitution in Liberia is not illegal, but improper. While it is true Liberia does not have such laws on the books, it is morally important to mention that only uncivilized persons would make such a statement. The President’s statement is an embarrassment to the people of Grand Gedeh County and Liberia. We believe as a President, making such a statement in a volatile nation such as Liberia where economic hardship is physically visible, has the propensity to increase among young people promiscuous sexual activities thus increasing unhealthy sexual practices across the country.
While HIV/AIDS awareness may start to pick up in Liberia, the behavioral changes necessary to stem the rate of infection, officially runs at only 6%. The long-term presence of UN peacekeepers and aid workers has also been a factor in the increase of HIV among the general population. A 1999 survey (http://mirror.undp.org/liberia/aidshiv.PDF) found that the maximum impact of HIV/AIDS was among soldiers, then marketeers, and then students. The honorable President should have known by now that there was scandal in 2002 on UNHCR, when aid workers were accused of demanding sex in return for food. Education about Anti-retroviral medicines is not thought accross the counrty and the medicine itself is not widely available. There was an estimated 36,000 orphans as a result of AIDS. Orphans nationally number around 240,000 at that time. These figures should ring bell in the ears of President Sirleaf.
Prostitution might not be considered illegal but to see it sanctioned by Her Excellency the honorable President of Liberia is a grave cause for concern and makes us very anxious to know how her administration would combat the spread of HIV/Aids in Liberia when over 14,000 refugees continue to enter Liberia from HIV and AIDs infected country such as the French Ivory Coast.
According to Global HIV and AIDS estimates in 2009, in Sub-Saharan Africa where Liberia is located; Adults & children living with HIV/AIDS reach 22.5 million, Adults & children newly infected reach 1.8 million. Adult prevalence reach 5.0% and AIDS-related deaths in adults & children sky rockets to 1.3 million.
President Johnson-Sirleaf must publically rephrase her statement on prostitution in Liberia as well as take steps towards AIDS prevention in Liberia and not buttress the spread of the disease. We ask that such steps are wholly and solely carried out by President Johnson-Sirleaf herself on public radio and public television.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf support of prostitution is directly against the mental and physical health of the people of Grand Gedeh County and Liberia as a whole. As such Operation We Care for Grand Gedeh therefore call on the people of Liberia especially residents of Grand Gedeh County not to cast their vote for President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in 2011 because she is working against the interests of the entire county and the country.
We want President Sirleaf to know that her statement of support for prostitution brings about questions surrounding her morals and has dangerously exposed Liberia to international criticism. President Sirleaf must desist from public support of prostitution while she serves public interest because it is unethical for a President of a nation to do so since she represents an entire nation. Perhaps her focus should be on creating jobs that allow those who turn to prostitution as a means to support themselves and their families another option.
On November 28, 2008, Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission(TRC) published a list of "Persons of interest" who to date have not appeared at the Commission but are considered persons who have particular knowledge and information about past events deemed expedient to the inquiry process of the commission, given their roles, positions in government or privy to public policy issues over the period 1979 to 2003. Charles Taylor did not appear before Liberia's TRC.
Mr. Charles Taylor may have in-depth information on the role Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf played during his NPFL revolution as such we call upon President Johnson Sirleaf to create a supportive atmosphere that will buttress the TRC efforts already made especially so, asking the ICC to permit Charles Taylor to give his side of the story on national radio and national television about his role played as former rebel leader, and former President of Liberia. In this way, the Liberian people would get the full understanding of the actual roles President Sirleaf and Charles Taylor played during the Liberian civil war. We believe this forum would heal the wounds of thousands of war victim.
We strongly believe that paving the way for genuine reconciliation in Liberia will require the participation of all Liberians including Charles Taylor. Excluding him from the process without getting his side of the story on national radio and television in Liberia would be an injustice to Mr. Taylor and the Liberian people.
We finally condemn President Sirleaf’s desire not to have former President Charles Taylor explain his side of the story on a Liberian national radio and television concerning the role he played during the Liberian civil war as well as his side of the story about her involvement with the NPFL rebels. We believe there is more than enough information in the possession of Mr. Taylor concerning madam Sirleaf’s involvement with the NPFL rebels. Mr. Taylor’s untold revelation may be reasons behind the delay in the freezing of his asset by the Ellen Johnson-Sir led government. It is unjust for Madam Sirleaf to say on a Liberian national radio that she was fooled by Mr. Taylor when he Taylor is not given the opportunity to exonerate himself.
God bless the people of Grand Gedeh.