-A sign of closing in on the Ex-warlord?
The U.S. Embassy in Monrovia strongly condemns Tuesday’s election of notorious Liberian warlord, Senator Prince Y. Johnson, as Chair of the Liberian Senate Committee on Defense and Intelligence. An Embassy’s release issued Wednesday says Senator Johnson’s gross human rights violations during the Liberian civil wars are well-documented, including his continued efforts to protect himself from accountability, enrich his own coffers and sow division among Liberians.
“That the Liberian Senate would see fit to elevate him to a leadership role – particularly in the area in which he has done this country the most harm — creates doubts as to the seriousness of the Senate as a steward of Liberia’s defense and security”, the release reads.
It says the U.S. government is proud of its longstanding partnership with the Ministry of National Defense and the Armed Forces of Liberia – AFL, which will continue, but vows to have no relationship with Senator Johnson.
At the same time, the U.S. government says it note as well the continuation of Counselor Varney Sherman, who has been sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for corruption involving judicial bribery, as chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims and Petitions.
“By giving Senators Johnson and Sherman these leadership roles, the Senate is effectively ensuring that corruption and lack of accountability flourish”, the release concludes.
Sen. Prince Johnson, leader of the defunct rebels Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) is among several Liberian warlords recommended for prosecution by the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, for commission of heinous crimes and crimes against humanity.
The TRC final report also calls for establishment of war and economic crimes court for Liberia, but the self-declared Field Marshall vehemently opposes the coming of the court, has threatened to return to the bush with his loyalists.
His INPFL rebels captured and slain President Samuel Kanyon Doe at the Freeport of Monrovia in September 1990 during the civil war here. Despite his atrocity records, gorilla-turned politician, evangelist has been elected twice to the Senate for nine years term each.
The Liberian Senate on Tuesday elected new corps of officers for various standing committees, including committees on Foreign Affairs, Defense, Security and Veterans, Health, Education, Public Accounts and Public Works, respectively.
Vying for the Foreign Affairs committee were senators Commany B. Wesseh of River Gee County and Senator James Biney of Maryland County, the Defense Committee were contested by Senators Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba County and Stephen J. H. Zargo of Lofa, while Senators Augustine Chea of Sinoe County and Daniel Nathaan of Gbarpolu County vied for the Committee on Health.
Bong County Senator Prince Moye won the seat for the Education Committee on white ballot, Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe of Bomi County also won the Public Works committee unopposed and Senator J. Emmanuel Nuquay of Margibi County won the Public Accounts Committee also on white ballot.
Presenting themselves before the entire body for the various offices, Senator Wesseh said that he has vast experience in foreign relations, and that his work in the Senate is for peace and working for the Liberian people. He also noted that he has worked with the foreign ministry for years.
His opponent James Biney said that he was the chair on the Foreign Affairs committee in the House of Representatives prior to his election to the senate, nothing that he has been in the legislature for 16 years, and would not compromise one inch.
Senator Prince Y. Johnson, who was eventually elected to the committee on Defense, Security and Veterans, said that he had worked with the ECOWAS Committee saying, there are too many irregularities in the security sector. According to him, a chair of the Defense Committee should have good connection with the commander-in-chief and the Armed Forces of Liberia. “I ask my junior brother Dillon and the Lioness Nyonblee for their support”, he rallied his colleagues be his election.
For his part, Lofa County Senator Stephen J. H. Zargo said that he has a security network in all 15 counties, and he also formerly served as chief investigator but due to some consultations, he will serve as co-chair to Senate Prince Y. Johnson.
Sinoe County Senator Augustine Chea said that he has dedicated his time to the service of committee works and has always made the case for them to take committee works seriously.
He noted that Health is a key sector and it needs to be taken care of. Chea vowed to sure that every dime budgeted and donor support will be utilized for the sector.
His contender Senator Daniel Nathaan said that he has given his service to various committees, adding that he had served as co-chair on the Health Committee since 2015, so he has not come to learn but to move the committee forward.
“I am from the opposition and we cannot sit and allow the Senate leadership to be run by the ruling party only”, Nathaan maintained.
The President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Albert T Chie said that now the leadership of the Senate is complete it’s time they review the president’s request for advice on establishment of war and economic crimes court and all other proposals before them. Editing by Jonathan Browne