Liberia: President Weah Should Conduct Himself As a Statesman and Not a Politician

"We urge the Liberian authorities to complete a swift and objective investigation to hold accountable those instigating or executing violence in this and previous incidents." (Statement of concern by the international diplomatic community)

Joint Statements of concern issued by the diplomatic community in Liberia about the spiraling level of political/electoral violence in Liberia, though belated, is nonetheless a welcome development. However, this newspaper cautions that this should not be another play to the gallery.

Although the statement did not single out, for mention, those inciting and perpetrating the violence, it must not be lost on our diplomatic friends that, from all available evidence (photos and video footage) it is supporters of the CDC who are inciting and perpetrating the violence. And they are doing so in reckless disregard for the rule of law and with deepening impunity.

The Joint statement calls on the government, including the Police, to investigate and bring those responsible to justice. The public, however, appear to distrust the Police given the virtual standoffish attitude exhibited by the Police during the recent violent attack on District#15 candidate, Telia Urey, as well as in previous incidents of violence involving CDC supporters.

It must not also be lost on our diplomatic friends that this kind of violence has become a pattern wherein political opponents or critics are subject to violent attacks. An example is the young lady who appeared in a video on social media and leveled murder allegations against Jefferson Koijee. She further alleged that she and others were sent to Mali to acquire/procure arms which, according to her, were buried at former President Taylor's arm in Bong County.

Barely two days following her disclosures on social media, she was brutally assaulted by unidentified men, repeatedly gang-raped and injected with a poisonous substance. The lady is now battling for her life at an undisclosed medical facility, according to relatives and friends who spoke to this newspaper.

Prior to this incident was the flogging of the second highest ranking officer in the Liberia National Police on the grounds of the CDC headquarters in Congo Town. His flogging was allegedly ordered by Mayor Jefferson Koijee. To date, no one has been held to account.

In the minds of the public, if such a high-ranking Police officer can be brutally assaulted by thuggish CDC elements acting allegedly on the orders of Jefferson Koijee and nothing has come out of it, how then can victims of the violent assault in Logan Town expect an impartial investigation by the Police into the recent violence there? Police officers were there, as can be seen on video footage. Some of them can even be seen filming the incidents on their personal mobile phones.

But, so far, no arrests have been made; yet, aggrieved citizens are being urged to exercise patience and await the outcomes of an investigation which appears more likely than not to die a natural death, just as investigations into complaints by Cornelia Kruah Togba, Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, former Representative Dusty Wolokolie, Representative Yekeh Kolubah etc, have died natural deaths.

It is not surprising therefore that Ms. Urey has rejected an invitation from the Liberia National Police to dialogue with her CDC opponent in District#15. In view of this development we are constrained to question whether such is keeping with normal Police practice where imperatives for justice are substituted for dialogue with an unrepentant aggressor.

Lest we forget, hate messages and hate speech coming especially from the highest levels of a country's leadership can very easily incite and provoke violence. Truth be told, President Weah's exhortation to his partisans never to allow the Ureys to win elections and to "flog that little girl" was very inflammatory and can not be ruled out as a major contributing factor which very likely primed party zealots into the violent behavior witnessed in Logan Town recently.

Disappointingly, President Weah has sworn not to apologize for making such inflammatory statements, apparently in an act of defiance to Senator Darius Dillon, who urged the President to retract his reckless remarks against candidate Urey. But such knee jerk reaction does not portray true statesmanship. President Weah should, going forward, learn to conduct himself as a statesman and not a politician.

According to American Professor Dr. J. Rufus Fears, professor of the history of freedom, a politician and a statesman are not one and the same thing. He argues that a statesman is not a tyrant; rather, he is the free leader of a free people and he must possess four (4) critical qualities which, according to him, are the following:

1. A bedrock of principles

2. A moral compass

3. A vision

4. The ability to build a consensus to achieve that vision

The true statesman, Professor Fears argues, follows his moral compass and although his ideas may not be in sync with the public mood, he does not tailor his rhetoric to it, rather, he speaks to the best in his countrymen and bring forth and activate their ideals, however deeply buried they may be. And the strength of his words stems from his strong beliefs in what he says.

Unlike the rabble-rouser politician, a true statesman does not burn his people's hearts with empty promises, but always keeps his words, doing just what he says he will do. And whether we like it or not, the people have their way of determining whether their leader is a politician or a statesman.

Going by the current trend of things, especially the ongoing spate of political violence perpetrated by CDC supporters with impunity, their use of inflammatory language, a declining economy, runaway public sector corruption and President Weah's seeming inability to tackle it; weighed against his promises to make life better for all, it appears, President Weah consciously or unconsciously is defining himself more as a politician rather than a true statesman.

And the result of the just ended Montserrado County by-elections simply shows that Liberians are awakening to the reality that President Weah, in the eyes of the public, is appearing more like a politician than a statesman and this is what they apparently find revolting.

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