5 October 2012

Liberia: Did Leymah Gbowee Receive U.S.$500,000?

Photo: AllAfrica
2011 Nobel Peace Prize winners: L-R Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkol Karman and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

When Nobel Peace Laureate Madam Leymah Gbowee announced her resignation as head of the Peace and Reconciliation Initiative, she criticized the government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of corruption and nepotism.

In her statement, Madam Gbowee criticized fellow Nobel Peace Laureate President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for failing to fight corruption and nepotism in her country.

Speaking about her visit to Paris for the launch of the French edition of her book, entitled: "Mighty Be Her Power", Madam Gbowee said, "People are very disappointed. We have a deficit when it comes to having a moral voice in the country."

Madam Gbowee also indicated that she felt guilty for not speaking out earlier and announced her resignation from the Peace Initiative.

However, hours following her statement, she was lambasted by a cross section of the Liberian society, including some officials of government and supporters of the President, who said Madam Gbowee knew that corruption and nepotism were in government when she accepted the job.

Since then a barrage of condemnations against her resignation have prompted counteractions from civil society groups and other individuals, some believe, the Nobel Peace Laureate did nothing wrong to resign and that her decision must have been for a genuine reason.

However, nobody knows what may have triggered Madam Gbowee's abrupt resignation, but a Liberian Civil Society Network, a conglomeration of civil society organizations legally operating under the laws of Liberia has provided some clues that seem to suggest why the Nobel Peace Laureate resigned.

In a press release issued last Thursday, the civil society network blamed the Liberian government for failing to timely inform the Liberian people of Madam Gbowee's initial resignation on 23 August 2012.

The Network said Gbowee's resignation was based on assertion made by the head of the Independent Human Rights Commission of Liberia, Cllr. Leroy Urey, alleging that the Nobel Peace Laureate received some (US$500,000) for the work of the Liberian Reconciliation Initiative.

In the release, the civil society group revealed that President Sirleaf wrote Madam Gbowee on August 27, 2012, assuring that Cllr. Urey would "...retract his falsehoods or face appropriate consequences," which according to the group, did not happen and President Sirleaf took no action as promised.

However, a source at the Independent Human Rights Commission of Liberia (IHRCL), speaking on condition of anonymity, hinted this paper that Cllr. Urey made the statement in the presence of officials of government and representatives of the UN peace-building office and other prominent individuals.

Urey accused Madam Gbowee of receiving US$500,000 from the Liberian government for the work of the peace commission while his institution (IHRCL) continues to receive less budgetary allotment.

According to our source, the Nobel Peace Laureate was furious and requested Urey to show evidence.

When this paper contacted some employees of the Peace Commission to state whether the Peace Commission had received US$500,000 from government, they said "Not a diem".

However, the civil society network noted that the failure by the Liberian leader to address the dispute between Gbowee and Urey further proved her compromising stance on serious national issues.

The group said it is beginning to fathom that the government may have masterminded Cllr. Urey's action of spewing falsehood against Madam Gbowee in order to shrink her relevance nationally and internationally, fearing that she's a force to reckon with politically.

"In such case, it was only, but logical that Madam Gbowee resign to protect her image and internationally acclaimed status she took elongated years to build," the group noted.

The group said by ignoring problems of corruption, nepotism, abject poverty raised by Madam Gbowee speaks of government's inability and failure to address national issues adequately.

The group said the government must see her resignation as a strong caution to put its house in order as the people are beginning to retrieve their confidence reposed in it.

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