Charles Gyude Bryant: Leading the road to peace, democratic governance in Liberia- A Tribute
A 15-day period of national mourning, announced by the Government of Liberia by the Presidency, is ongoing for the death of Transitional Head of State Charles Gyude Bryant. Chairman Bryant, who led the National Transitional Government of Liberia from October 14, 2003 to January 16, 2006, died on Wednesday (afternoon), April 16, 2014 at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Sinkor, Monrovia after ailing for a period of time.
65 year old-Bryant led the Transitional Government of Liberia, comprising representatives of Liberian belligerent forces-former President Taylor Government, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy or LURD, Movement for Democracy in Liberia or MODEL, as well as civil society, among others, as part of the 2003 Accra Peace Agreement to end the country’s bloody civil war, which claimed about three hundred thousand lives.
His selection in Accra, Ghana at the end of weeks of peace talk among the Liberian fighting forces, political parties, as well as civil society organizations, among others, was against the backdrop of his non-alignment with either of the warring factions- decision which took many Liberians by surprise at home and abroad.
Being very cognizant of such national task as the bridge to peace, civility and sanity in war-ravaged Liberia, the Late Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant, upon returning to the country and assuming the nation’s interim leadership on October 14, 2993, prioritized uncompromising and constructive engagements in the interim administration’s relations with the United Nations System to include the United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL in ensuring the timely disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of arms-carrying persons associated with fighting forces, establishment and maintenance of law and order, restoration of basic social services, as well as holding free, fair and democratic elections- a mandate achieved by his two and a half year-interim leadership, occasioning the emergence of the first elected post-war leadership of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as President of Liberia toward the end of 2005.
Just a year in the Sirleaf Administration (January 2007), the Late ‘Gyude Bryant’ was surprisingly ordered arrested (by the new government), interrogated (by the police) and detained at the Monrovia Central Prison on allegations of “corruption” while in office. He and his administration were accused of stealing more than $1m- an allegation the new government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf failed to prove; thus leading to his acquittal in 2010.
“I have always said from day one that I was innocent of all charges; a major wrong has been corrected,” he told a BBC interview following his release.
The fact that the Late Charles Gyude Bryant led a once war-torn Liberia through a very smooth transition to a peaceful democracy, many Liberians continue to hail him as a man of peace- even in death; owing to the fact that he played a political “blind eye” to the ten-year residency clause in the Liberian Constitution, which could have disqualified key political figures from participating as candidates, he will continue to be regarded as a man of peace-one whose basic concern was a country of love, law and sanity at all cause.
As tolerant as patient he was, he did not get what he deserved when he was alive; when many opposed the idea of a legitimate government in the shortest period of time, he was very firm and continuously advocated for it, and at the end of the day, he was one who could be relied upon.
Unfortunately, we did not give him “flowers” while he was alive.
Despite the foregoing, we will continue to remember the Late Charles Gyude Bryant for leading a process of restoring peace and democratic governance to Liberia through a smooth transition.
May he rest in peace and light perpetual shine on.