25 April 2014

Liberia: Liberty Party Calls for Calm, Says Bryant Deserves Honorable Burial

Monrovia — One of Liberia's leading opposition political parties, the Liberty Party has called for calm between parties, including the Government of Liberia and the family of the late National Transitional Government of Liberia Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant which will ensure state burial for the fallen statesman.

Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa , National Chairman of the party speaking at the party's headquarters in Monrovia said former leaders need to be accorded honor and as such the family of the late Gyude Bryant should in the name of reconciliation allow the state to partake in the burial of the former leader.

"We urge all parties involved to see this as a key reconciliation issue to reach out to the family and we urge the family to be even more conciliatory in spite of all the disappointments and frustrations it should be, that chairman Bryant should not be buried in controversy but instead in an atmosphere of peace and reconciliation as he most championed our peace and reconciliation" says Cllr. Kofffa.

According to Cllr. Kofffa, there are reports that the former leader became disappointed over business deals with the National Port Authority and according to family members he made a wish preventing the state from partaking in his burial, describing such situation as troubling.

Says Cllr. Koffa: "There are press reports of Mr. Bryant's own disappointment in the handling of business dealing by the National Port Authority and the processes and procedures that so frustrated him, there has also been reports that in keeping with his last wishes, the family has decided that the government of Liberia should not be involved in his home going and interment. We find these developments to be troubling and disturbing".

Past leaders Deserve Better

The lawyer said Liberia is now a civilized democracy and as such its past leaders deserve better treatment and honor from the state and people.

"We are now a civilized democracy, we ought to find a better way to treat our former heads of state. We believe that it is about time that the Executive and Legislature consider putting an institution in place, perhaps within the Ministry of State that will handle the business affairs of former Presidents and heads of state, when I say business affairs everything ranging from their presidential papers, their presidential appearances, their private business matters with the Liberian government for which they may need support, assistance with their travels and due courtesy that may be due them as former heads of state of Liberia", stated Cllr. Koffa.

"We urge all parties involved to see this as a key reconciliation issue to reach out to the family and we urge the family to be even more conciliatory in spite of all the disappointments and frustrations it should be, that chairman Bryant should not be buried in controversy but instead in an atmosphere of peace and reconciliation as he championed our peace and reconciliation", Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa

Former Chairman Bryant, the Liberty party Chairman said is one of those credited with the democracy Liberia currently enjoys.

"Mr. Bryant, we can simply say is one of the authors and certainly foremost engineer of our current democratic dispensation. You must remember when we returned from Accra, his mandate was to return Liberia to full democratic institutional framework within the two years' time given, during that time, he was able to organize with the assistance of the international community and the Liberian people, free and fair elections in Liberia".

Cllr. Koffa said the death of the former leader should be seen as a national issue and not one that bothers on only his family.

"We have enjoyed, 10 years of peace since he ushered in that era, he enjoys our full recognition, he deserves the full honor to which he is due, all other things are going to be the talk of history for which we are going to debate for a long time. In view of that, it is the position of the liberty party to call on the family to see the death, home going and interment of Chairman Bryant not necessarily one of a family exercise or the dying wish of a frustrated leader but indeed as a statesman whose home going belongs to all of us. We urge them to reconsider their decision, to put it in the context of the Liberian state and the Liberian people in whose fate and trust, his life worth would not have been complete if we do not give him what is due him at this honor of death in terms of the highest honor and exercise we owe him as a Liberian leader".

Since the death of the former Liberian leader, there has been controversy with the family issuing a statement in which they disclosed that during Bryant's last days he made a wish that he does not want the state to be involved in his burial.

A statement issued by the Bryant and Carr families stated "It was Chairman Bryant's wish that there be No Panegyric, No Official Gazette issued, No Laying in State, No 21-Gun Salute, No Military Escort, or any State function over his remains. The families intend to carry out his wishes".

The two families clearly stated that in keeping with church tradition and norms, only the Family and Church will give tributes at the Funeral of the late Chairman Bryant on Saturday, May 10th, 2014. International institutions, including ECOWAS, the United Nations and African Union were not included in Bryant's wish according to the statement.

"The People of Liberia, the International Community, including the United Nations, the African Union, and ECOWAS may pay tributes at the Wake Keeping Ceremony on Friday May 9th, 2014", the statement indicated.

Pearl Brown Bull, a friend of the family and a legal advisor to the former NTGL Chair, the family is only carrying out the last wishes of a dead man. Cllr. Bull said the late Bryant was in his sound mind and body before he died because he had called his lawyer, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean to his office in his home and had given him instructions to sue the NPA for reneging on a contract he bided for and won. Cllr. Bull is standing by the decision of the Bryant and Carr families not to include the government in any burial arrangements of the former Head of State.

"As a lawyer in my own right and as a politician, I feel it is right for the family to carry out his wishes for two reasons. Either, one he may have been frustrated, disenchanted with the manner in which this government treated him in the manner of a former head of state in their actions, in their dealings, their statements and their mannerism," Cllr. Bull told the Voice of America's Daybreak Africa recently.

Some Liberians also share the view expressed by Cllr. Bull as Hansford puts it clearly: "To hear his family saying clearly that they don't want the government to have anything to do whatsoever with his burial speaks volume. I have argued that the late Chairman died as a result of utter frustration."

Lawmaker Edwin Snowe feels there has to be a review of how the state treats its former leaders who have served and retired. "This issue regarding former leaders, inclusive of Chairman Bryant, is not just with the executive, we as legislators are also responsible. We should ensure that when the executive is not doing what is expected; we should make sure that we keep their feet to the fire," Snowe said recently.

Bryant led Liberia's sixth interim government from October 2003 to January 2006 as the consensus choice of the three major warring factions -- Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), and Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia.

If Bryant's wish is granted it would become the second time that a former Liberian President is buried without state honor due to his wish. Historian Rev. Emmanuel Bowier, former minister of Information told FrontPageAfrica that in 1955 former President Edwin Barclay refused any involvement of the government into his funeral rites and was buried in a quiet ceremony on his farm after his death in the U.S. This was a result of a bitter feud between Barclay and the William V.S Tubman era.

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