Liberia: Echo From the Economic Dialogue

9 September 2019

Stakeholders and Liberians in general from the just-ended National Economic Dialogue have, among others, called for the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia, including full implementation of recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The three-day discussions also highlighted four critical areas: Mobilization and management of public finance; promoting investment and growing private sector business; tracking existing high unemployment rate among the youthful population, coupled with shortage of appropriate skills; sustaining the peace and promoting genuine reconciliation.

Liberians are gradually becoming unanimous here on calls for the establishment of the court to stamp out culture of impunity by bringing to book perpetrators of heinous crimes and crimes against humanity. Pressure has come from the international partners, including United States Congressional members and Diaspora-based Liberians for constitution of the court.

Recently, Catholic Bishops in Liberia issued a statement, similarly joining calls to end impunity by setting up of the court so that people would account for their deeds to serve as deterrence.

The former chair of the TRC, Cllr. Jerome Verdier currently residing in the United States, describes Liberia, under President George MannehWeah's rule as "gangsters' paradise" where lawlessness and state-sponsored violence is brewing under the President's watch.

President Weah himself is visibly unwilling to have such court established under his administration. His government has embarked on remobilizing ex-rebel generals and ex-fighters to operate as non-state actors with the sole mission of consolidating his grip on power.

Besides, some of his key political allies and loyalists, including the erratic leader of the disbanded rebels Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) Senator Prince Yormie Johnson, vehemently oppose such court for Liberia, for fear of being dragged before it.

But does the President have a choice, really? He doesn't, no matter his dislike. Now that the call is coming from not just ordinary citizens, but stakeholders, the government would have to listen, because justice is the foundation on which any economy strides.

If the current economic woes of Liberia are to be revised, we should set our priorities right by first obtaining and maintaining trust of our foreign partners. The world is now a global village and how we live as a people, affect our neighbors.

Consequently, the call from the National Economic Dialogue for war and economic crimes court reaffirms which trajectory the government should take to reverse this creeping but silent isolation and subsequently rescue our ailing economy from total collapse.

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