It is our honor to present sincere greetings, compliments of our highest esteem and privilege to invite Your Excellency’s attention to our suggested/recommended answers to your question raised as indicated above.
In your understandable frustration over criticism, as President of Liberia, you lashed out, angrily, at the multitude of the critics who question the quality and style of your political leadership with your statement, “I don’t know what Liberians want . . .”
You were born about some 50 years ago and raised in Clara Town, northeast of Monrovia, one of the City’s Slum enclaves; so, You (Mr. George Opon Manneh Weah) need no lecture on illiteracy, education, lack of general information; poverty, hunger, unemployment, over-crowdedness and congestion; lack of healthcare, electricity, safe drinking water, unsanitary living conditions, high crime without police protection; lack of ethnic/tribal, socio-cultural, traditional identity, in terms of tribal dialect, etc.; and above all, the incidence of corruption or public dishonesty, described by the former President as “Liberia’s public enemy no.1”.
The theme of your campaign as candidate for President of Liberia was “Change, you will cry no more” and, also, since your election, you have announced and adopted a “Pro-Poor Agenda”, although you have been in office for less than a year – barely 6 months.
I pen this Open Letter to you, Mr. President, suggesting/recommending answers to your question because of my hope and wish that You, Mr. George Weah, must not fail for obvious reasons. Firstly, your credibility as President of Liberia, expressed by action, is on the line. State success, failure and your survival as President are all tied to your credibility.
Local, national and, particularly, international support (mainly economic in billions of US dollars) depends upon your credibility.
You see, Mr. President, that in any democratic political community that is committed to the rule of law and in which mind-boggling illegal acts of atrocious summary executions, group massacres, genocides, human rights violations, rapes, maiming, thievery and corruption were committed without trial, as was the case in the Republic of Liberia, a legal house-cleaning effort for the arrest, trial of the suspected and punishment of the guilty are required, demanded, indeed mandated. This effort sends out the message, loud and clear, that there is, will and shall be, no preferential treatment or immunity, given to anyone, irrespective of position and standing in the community. Legal house-cleaning, Sir, is and will be your major test of your credibility.
Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
Thus, the TRC approach, based on the successful experience of the Republic of South Africa, was adopted and passed into law in Liberia as the reasonable option for peace and security in post-conflict Liberia that this necessity demands – open, free and fair trials of suspected human rights violators, punishment of the guilty and amnesty granted the guilty, remorseful violators to whom such amnesty was due, a transitional justice approach, from conflict to modern, peaceful democratic rule.
But the-then President and former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was surrounded by suspected war criminals and supporters who held powerful political and economic positions, including law enforcement – police, military and other security-related portfolios, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, political party leaders, private corporate officials, etc., with high level of public dishonesty or corruption within her government. In fact, her success as the leading politician and survival of her presidency depended, exclusively, upon the support and cooperation of war, economic and corruption crimes suspects. As such, they enjoyed, continue to enjoy to this day, characteristic immunity or “impunity” from prosecution.
Given this reality, implementation of the TRC Recommendations with War Crime Court on ground, in Liberia, was unreasonable and, therefore, unacceptable to Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and supporters, because it meant prosecution and possible long-term imprisonment. Therefore, the Report was side-lined on shelves in the offices of the suspected war criminals where it gathered and is gathering dust during the past 12 years, while the suspects of war & economic crimes are awarded high-level positions with “Honorable” titles.
Now Your current, George Weah Government
Your Administration may be likened to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Government and the retired Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s “king-maker” political “don” in many respects, although You, Mr.George Weah, were not involved in any aspect of the war nor connected to rebellious war crimes, but:
a) As Candidate-for-President you “became too friendly with Mr. Charles Taylor for comfort” not only for the majority of the Liberian population who suffered the impact of his “Jungle Justice” rule and that the former President is a war criminal serving a 50-year term for war crimes against humanity, but also, that sub-regional leaders of the West African Sub-Region are, also, unhappy and suspicious with your associations.
b) Now, your Cabinet is dominated by senior, political loyalists and others appointed by former President Sirleaf who, reportedly, is the power behind your Presidential throne with you having been compromised, also reportedly, with support and campaign contribution by the former President Sirleaf in return for protection from prosecution for war crime allegations; and
c) Your Excellency is, also, surrounded with graduates of the civil war (child soldiers who survived the dangers of toting AK-47s and deadly RPGs) and by important political officials – judges and members of the National Legislatures, all suspected war criminals, who hold the key to your presidency. For example, these officials include members of the Legislature dominated by war, economic and corruption crime suspects – senators and representatives who were supporters-fighters of Charles Taylor’s NPFL/INPFL and members of his National Patriotic Party. Some of these members were “elected” from small communities excised or extracted from existing Counties and bestowed “county” status without legal merit, but only for political and economic reasons.
There are other suspected war, economic and corruption criminals, like in the past (of the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf government), who held/hold powerful political and economic positions, including law enforcement – police, military, related security officials, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, political party leaders, private corporate officials, etc., including, also, the highest level of public dishonesty or corruption than any other government of Liberia in the past within Your Excellency’s government.
In the light of the foregoing conditions, it would be an illusion to expect implementation of the TRC Recommendations by placing the War Crime Court on-ground, in Liberia, repetition of the past 12 years. But, Mr. President, make no mistake about the demand for war and economic crimes trials – the demand has grown, growing and that it is highly likely to be held.
Our Suggested/Recommended Answers to Your Question
In the light of the foregoing and the reality of the prevailing conditions on the ground in Liberia, as in the past, we recommend the following answers for Your Excellency’s consideration/implementation, that:
1) Firstly, you should and must summon the political will and “guts” to distance You and your government/administration from the war and economic crime (corruption) suspects. Begin this process by rooting out and freeing the Weah Government from entrapment by the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf loyalists and others who dominate the Weah administration. Significantly, arrest and turn over all war and economic (corruption) crime suspects to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague for free, fair and open trials.
Indeed, this decision-action will earn and guarantee your government the International Community’s support led by Liberia’s most major historical benefactor and political ally, the USA, to arrest and turn over the suspects of war, economic and corruption crimes to the (ICC). For, it was this support (mainly economic, in hundreds of millions of US dollars) that convinced Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to turn over her appointed war-front commander and ally, Mr. Charles Taylor, to the ICC for trial; the rest is history;
2) Left to Decision of Your Excellency’s entrapped, current government on the ground in Liberia and placing War Crime Court, also, on ground in Liberia, will not be only repetition of the past 12-year illusion, but also, in support of Ellen Johnson-Sileaf’s ear-shattering silence in support of AU condemnation and threat of withdrawal from the ICC, Africa’s only salvation and protection from war (crimes of human rights violations of genocide and related crimes against African humanity), economic and corruption crimes. The prevailing Liberian socio-political and economic conditions merit ICC intervention; for, the ICC was created, exactly and precisely, to remedy such conditions;
3) Therefore, Sir, you must arrest and turn over all bigwigs and related major-crime suspects – ACDL’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf warlord, Toga McIntosh, Dr. Amos Sawyer, etc.; INPFL’s General Prince Johnson; NPFL’s General Charles Bright, etc.; Maritime Commission’s Benoni Urey and LISCR agents for purchase of arms and ammunitions for the civil war (now Liberia Maritime Authority) and LISCR agents now in Monrovia and their (LISCR’S) recently-reported stolen US $123 million of Liberia Maritime Authority’s funds hiding behind their Legal Counsel (the already indicted Varney Sherman); and reported “ghost (of departed Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, McClain) payment of US $207,277 on behalf (reportedly) of Ellen’s Lobbyist Public Relations” to a Washington, D.C. KRL firm out of Liberian public resources;
4) Beak up or dismantle the Super Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MF&DP) from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning & Economic Affairs – separate paymaster from planner/doer, to prevent the classic, patent conflict-of-interest approach. The Ministry of Finance, now given a wider terrain with political power, influence and control, has been and is, the most historically-dishonest, corrupt agency of government. It is now over-paid and overstaffed with dual citizens who do not live in Liberia but with families living permanently in foreign countries and travel often to these counties at enormous cost to the public resources; they are provided housing, transport, electricity generators with service allowances, although they plan and develop nothing but collect payments from those that they pay nationally (retained from counties’ socio-economic development allocations).
5) Mr. President, please pay close attention to and evaluate/restructure the Ministry of Finance’s former Section, Bureau of Revenue, the now Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA). It has been, and is the nation’s second-most historically-dishonest and corrupt agency of government and may be re-named, Liberia Stealing Authority. The agency is, also, over-paid and over-staffed with dual citizens who do not live in Liberia. Its close association with the National Social Security & Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) MD is cause for concern. Indeed, it is about time that you consider retirement of NASSCORP MD in the light of his payment of large sums of money to several politicians, including the recent, reported, payment to Honorable Harrison Karnwea of Nimba County that raised eye-brows on the internet.
6) The Public Procurement & Concession Commission (PPCC), General Service Agency (GSA) and Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (MF&DP) have not, yet, accounted for the US $5M, some 300 vehicles and medical supplies donated to Liberia for the Ebola Emergency. Some of the vehicles and medical supplies were found in Saclepia, Nimba County market for sale. It is about time, Mr. President, to arrest the GSA MD, the Executive Director of the corrupt PPCC for prosecution by the ICC and replace the entire PPC Commission members. The so-called Ministry of Finance & Development Planning must be re-structured as indicated at Item 4.
Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
ACTIVE, MOST SENIOR CITIZEN-ELDER
GRAND GEDEH COUNTY COUNCIL OF ELDERS, INC.