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Late president Tolbert’s children plan memorial for April

Children and grandchildren of fallen officials of the Tolbert era announce a planned memorial for their loved ones, including Liberia’s 19th president, Dr. William R. Tolbert, who was assassinated in a bloody military coup on April 12, 1980.Speaking with reporters here Wednesday, 11 March at the PALM Grove Cemetery on Center Street in Monrovia, Dr. Richard Tolbert, son of the late Frank Emmanuel Tolbert, former president pro-temporary of the Liberia Senate during the Tolbert regime, called on Liberians never to return to the bitter past of the country’s history, stressing that violence will never do Liberia and Liberians any good.

The second Wednesday of each year is National Decoration Day, celebrated across the country as a National Holiday in memory of the dead, which allows families to clean graves of dead relatives.

The late President Tolbert along with some immediate relatives and aides were buried in a mass grave dug by bulldozer at the Palm Grove Cemetery following the military coup.
Dr. Tolbert, Jr. also admonished fellow Liberians against vices that have the propensity to cause confusion in the country, instead, urging them to forge unity for growth and development.

A former chairman of the National Investment Commission (NIC), he explained the pending memorial will be held on April 12 and 22 April, respectively both in Bensenville and Monrovia, Montserrado County.

The coup was staged by 17 enlisted soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia led by Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe. Doe charged the Tolbert region of rampant corruption, nepotism, sectionalism and violations of basic human rights, among others.

A tribunal set up at the Barclay Training Center barracks tried and executed 13 officials of the slain president by firing squad on April 22nd, 1980, including Cyril A. Bright, Joseph J. F. Chesson, Sr., C. Cecil Dennis, Jr., Richard A. Henries, Sr., Charles D. B. King, D. Franklin Neal, Sr., P. Clarence Parker, III, James T. Phillips, Jr., James A. A. Pierre, John W. F. Sherman, Frank J. Stewart, Sr., Frank E. Tolbert, Sr. and E. Reginald Townsend, among others.

He established a military junta, People’s Redemption Council (PRC) and led a transition from 1980 to 85; stepped down from the army and subsequently organized elections that he rigged and became president. He would died by the same soul 10 years later in a rebel invasion launched December 25, 1989 led by jailed ex-president Charles Ghankay Taylor. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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