4 October 2017

Liberia: Prince Johnson's Pledge to Bring Killers to Justice - How Serious Can He Be?

Photo: The New Dawn
Senator Prince Johnson on the campaign trail (file photo).
editorial

Today he is Senior Senator of Nimba County and a candidate seeking the presidency of Liberia.

But who was he yesterday?

This is a question which every one of our over 20 presidential candidates should be asking themselves. Why? Because each of them, like all of us, are affected by our past. A seller down Waterside who has hardly done sixth or eight grade cannot claim that he or she is a candidate for Doctor of Medicine, or for the presidency of Liberia.

This is because whatever we wish to be, we should first prepare for. If one wants to be a medical doctor, one must first know how and love to study very hard, and must have a love for Science and Math and be fairly competent at both subjects in elementary and secondary school and in college. All of this will prepare him or her for the study of Medicine.

A person seeking the highest office in the land, the presidency, must also have done - or not done- certain things in order to be taken seriously when seeking such a lofty and demanding position.

Can someone, for example, who has hardly done eighth grade, realistically seek the presidency, even if he has been highly successful in another area of life? There are indeed those who have ventured into areas other than the areas of their competence and failed miserably, yet are determinedly ever seeking higher office.

How effectively would such a person perform in an even higher office that he or she knows practically nothing about? We in Liberia have seen this before, and where did it lead us? To disaster and state failure.

That is precisely why the October 10 elections are so crucial for us as a nation and people. We cannot, MUST not take chances with it and make the same mistake.

But let us turn to things people have done and are now making promises that if elected president, would correct - such things that they themselves have done, yet tell us they will, if elected, prosecute people for.

Is that not why Charles Taylor miserably failed as President of Liberia? At campaign time in 1997 he promised Liberians the world. But what did he deliver - not even peace but he prolonged the civil war and caused hundreds of thousands more people to be killed. He also built nothing, but destroyed almost everything, including the water system, the hydro, bridges and so much more.

Now here is Senator Prince Johnson, another warlord who during the Liberian civil war killed or commanded people to kill or be killed themselves if they did not follow his orders. Today as a presidential candidate, a popular one at that, who commands widespread loyalty and following in his vote-rich Nimba County, where most everyone knows him as "king," here is he pledging to prosecute anyone who kills another person or persons.

Yet the same General Prince Johnson has vigorously opposed a war crime tribunal in Liberia, most likely for fear of himself risking being brought to justice. How then will he muster the moral authority as president of Liberia to prosecute those who commit murder?

Maybe he should, as a presidential campaigner, simply focus on other things, such as agriculture, the economy, education, health, illiteracy and poverty, and let other sleeping dogs lie.

For to come now, knowing fully well his past, and promise to correct the same things of which he himself is not guiltless smacks of hypocrisy, and even mockery.

Liberia

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