Liberia: Impunity Amid Echoes of Violence - Writings On the Wall Resurfacing Again

Joint security create human barricade against angry mob outside the guest house in Zwedru, where Rep. Kolubah and Mr. Cummings were staying.

WHEN CHARLES TAYLOR and his rebels began surging deep into rural Liberia, no one knew what to expect. All everyone, wanted was to see Samuel Kanyon Doe out of the seat of the Executive Mansion., except of course, supporters of Doe.

IT DIDN'T MATTER how he got out, it didn't matter who got killed along the way or how many infrastructures would be damaged, they just wanted him out.

IN NEARLY a decade in power, Doe survived several coup attempts, a fateful November 12, 1985 invasion before the rebel invasion four years later.

PRESIDENT DOE'S DEATH on September 9, 1990 did little to end the killings and suffering in Liberia as rebel factions split into various factions, fighting each other in the name of power.

IN THE PROCESS, thousands of innocent Liberians, around 250,000 lost their lives. Women were raped, families were divided, scores fled into exile and Liberia, once one of the most peaceful nations on planet earth had lost its identity, its pride and sense of belief.

DOE HAILED from Grand Gedeh County, which was the scene of a violent episode Thursday when aggrieved supporters of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) staged a protest in the county, demanding the unconditional and immediate departure from the county of Montserrado County Representative Yekeh Kolubah(ANC, District No. 10). Representative Kolubah, who is a strong critic of President George Manneh Weah, is currently in Grand Gedeh following the climax of a trip to Maryland County along with his political leader, Alexander Cummings, prior to the celebration of Liberia's 173rd Independence anniversary.

THE SUPERINTENDENT OF GRAND GEDEH is Kai Farley, a Commanding General of the defunct rebel group Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL).

FARLEY IS FAMOUSLY remembered for threatening Rep. Kolubah last year, on the eve of the June 7 protest in Monrovia. He publicly threatened the lawmaker on a local radio station never to allow him in Grand Gedeh County.

THREATS ARE NOT new for the Superintendent. In February 2019, the people of Putu Chiefdom in the county called for his dismissal because of the "life-threatening violence" that Superintendent Farley used to prevent the removal of Arthur Gbarbow as chairperson of the Putu Community Forest Management Body (PCFMB). "Superintendent Farley used officers of the Liberian National Police assigned with the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) to injure several Putu residents and Mrs. Veronica Sheriff-Morlon, a citizen of the United States of America, whose mother is from the Putu Chiefdom," the release said.

THE STATEMENT ADDED: "One of the most injured persons during the violence at Petrokun Town on January 18, 2019, was 93-year-old Elder Thomas Quiah, Senior Advisor to the Putu Elders Council."

THE PUTU ELDERS COUNCIL, which appointed Mr. Gbarbow in March 2015, decided to remove him, "because of his poor performance exhibited mainly by his dictatorial behavior and non-accountability to the appointing body in particular and the Putu people in general."

WHEN HE APPEARED BEFORE the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in September 2008, Farley outrageously claimed that MODEL did not commit any act of atrocities nor did anything wrong during their fighting. "MODEL never carry out any massacre in Grand Bassa County. We did not commit any atrocities and we did not killed anybody", were the words of Mr. Farley when he appeared before the commission on Thursday.

AT THE HEIGHT OF THE CIVIL WAR in 2004, WHEN Farley and his fighters were accused of seizing and looted Liberia's fourth largest rubber plantation in the Sinoe county in the southeast of the country, Farley and MODEL denied.

DANIEL SAYDEE, the administrative manager of the Sinoe Rubber Plantation, said at the time that MODEL fighters, claiming to have been instructed by their commanders, looted and seized the plantation. "The fighters have prevented us from resuming our regular business at the plantation and our investigations show that over US $400,000 worth of tapped rubber and machineries were looted by MODEL fighters," Saydee said.

MODEL INSTEAD LATER BLAMED Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia rebels for burning down villages in Grand Bassa county in central.

IRONICALLY, REP. KOLUBAH, himself is a former warlord and has admitted fighting with Taylor's NPFL from Gbarnga to Monrovia although it is unclear whether he committed atrocities.

TODAY, LIBERIA's government is paraded with scores of former warlords who inflicted wounds and heartaches on a lot of families. They killed, they maimed the forced many into exile and are walking around in big jeeps and fat paychecks while those the left fatherless and motherless look on.

THE TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION findings made a lot of recommendations which are yet to be implemented. But every now and then, a figure from the civil war shows up in boastful fashion, denying their role in the war.

THE VICTIMS ARE NOT HERE to tell their stories or defend themselves. Yet, Liberians are allowing shades of the past and recurring themes of impunity to insult the dead by rewarding killers and looters with taxpayers sweat.

THURSDAY'S INCIDENT BEARS some similarity to some of the triggering signs that contributed to the fall of Doe and the many writings on the wall he failed to heed.

EVEN THOSE WHO came after him found themselves in a similar predicament.

THIS IS WHY President George Weah must stand and deliver on this and restore order because the ship is sinking fast and Liberia is embarking on a familiar path no one wants.

SENATOR CONMANY WESSEH(UP, River Gee) is right. In a letter to the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, Albert Chie, the Senator laments that the Senate must muster the courage and take the lead in establishing a lawful "order" for the Legislature, especially the Senate, to prevent the destruction of the 17 years of hard won peace in Liberia.

Said Senator Wesseh: "The orders should be swift actions of condemnation of an investigation into: 1. What happened today (29 July) in Zwedru - the attack on visiting opposition political leaders (Hon. Alexander B. Cummings, Chairman of the Collaborating Political Parties and former Presidential Candidate of the ANC and Hon. Yekeh Kolubah, Member of the House of Representatives) by apparent state organized and sponsored mob; and the deployment of the Armed Forces of Liberia to escort the peaceful leaders out of a town in their own country."

JUST LAST WEEK, another Superintendent George Prowd of Maryland County, told an errant crowd of CDCians that the Army and Police are for them to use anyhow, anywhere and anytime for any purpose.

SAID PROWD: "I don't like to use the word anymore ruling party," Prowd said referring to the governing Coalition for Democratic Change. "We are the government party. We control the army, we control the police, we control everything - and we will utilize that authority that other people have utilize in the past in our country."

ALL OF THESE SIGNALS POINT to danger on the horizon for Liberia.

PRESIDENT WEAH must not allow his legacy to be one bearing similarities to his predecessors; he cannot and should not allow sycophants toeing the line he wants to hear all the time, ruin what could eventually lead to his downfall.

TODAY, FORMER President Charles Taylor is in prison, all by himself. Gone are the hanger-ons and sycophantic followers who sang his praises the entire while he was at the helm of power. If he could turn back the hands of time, perhaps he probably would.

RICHARD STEELE, the Irish Playwright and author aptly summed up: "Whenever you commend, add your reasons for doing so; it is this which distinguishes the approbation of a man of sense from the flattery of sycophants and admiration of fools."


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