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Reverse PYJ, Sherman’s elections

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-CPP urges Senate

The opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) has called on the Liberian Senate to reverse its decision re-electing Liberia’s long time feared rebel general, now Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson as Senate Committee Chair on Defense and Intelligence, and Cllr. Varney Sherman, as Committee Chair on Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims and Petitions.

CPP’s request to the Senate came Thursday, 20 May after the United States Embassy near Monrovia earlier on Wednesday released a statement condemning the Senate’s decision to elect the two officials due to separate reasons cited by the embassy.

“Electing him as Chair on the Senate Committee on Defense and Intelligence is insensitive to the calls of those Liberians calling for the establishment of the WECC [War and Economic Crimes Court] and also to victim of his alleged crimes and an incentive for the culture of impunity in Liberia,” CPP said in reaction to Johnson’s re-election.

“Sen. Varney Sherman’s election as Chair on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims and Petitions is an outright show of support for corruption by the Liberian Senate,” CPP added.

The party noted that over the years and in recent times, Liberians in their vast majority have been calling for the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court (WECC) to prosecute those who have allegedly committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and economic crimes in Liberia.

It said Sen. Prince Yormie Johnson, a warlord, is one of those that have allegedly committed heinous war crimes and crimes against humanity during the civil war in Liberia.

According to CPP, the United States of America, Liberia’s biggest and most valued ally, has sanctioned Sen. Sherman for corruption involving judicial bribery, bribery of politicians to impeach former Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh and for other corrupt practices.

Given these reasons, the CPP contended that the election of both Sen. Johnson and Sen. Sherman proved that the Liberian Senate is yet to take the fight against corruption and impunity seriously.

“As a responsible country that is almost 180-year-old, we should not always wait for our partners, particularly the Americans, to scold us publicly before our leaders can take the fight against kleptocracy and impunity seriously,” it continued.

CPP said it welcomes the statement from the United States Government and reiterates its call for the immediate reversal of the elections of Sen. Cllr. Varney Sherman and Sen. General Prince Y. Johnson from the leadership of the Liberian Senate.

Meanwhile, Mr. Johnson’s Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) party has reacted to the U.S. Embassy’s statement, saying it is reminding “some elements of the US Embassy near Monrovia to desist from the derogatory characterization of its First Partisan and Political Leader, Senator Prince Y. Johnson.”

Through a statement under the signature of MDR Secretary General Wilfred J.S. Bangura, II, MDR said it looks to the U.S. as the beacon of democracy, equity and justice, and the foundation of justice lies in proper litigation in the court of competent jurisdiction.

“It is shocking and appalling that the Embassy of the United States would be found wanting in this respect. By bringing Senator Johnson down guilty as a notorious war criminal mentioned in your press release of May 19, 2021, when he has not been indicted, [tried] nor found guilty or without due process of the law in our view represents travesty of justice,” the MDR argued.

The party claims that contrary to the U.S. Embassy’s categorization of Senator Johnson as a “divisionist,” he is now an evangelist who regrets the civil war in Liberia and sees it as a matter of the past.

“He has made a commitment to keep the people of Nimba and Liberia united and will do nothing less than helping to keep the peace. This is why the people of Nimba whom he represents at the Liberian Senate do not regret in his leadership,” MDR said.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy near Monrovia strongly condemned Tuesday’s election of notorious Liberian warlord, Senator Prince Y. Johnson, as Chair of the Liberian Senate Committee on Defense and Intelligence.

The Embassy said 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 stated.

It added that 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 vowed to have no relationship with Senator Johnson.

At the same time, the U.S. government said it noted 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 concluded.

Sen. Prince Johnson, leader of the defunct rebel group Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) is among several Liberian warlords recommended for prosecution by the country’s erstwhile Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), for commission of heinous crimes and crimes against humanity.

The TRC final report also calls for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court for Liberia, but the self-declared Field Marshall vehemently opposes the coming of the court and has threatened to return to the bush with his loyalists.

His INPFL rebels captured and killed then sitting President Samuel Kanyon Doe at the Freeport of Monrovia in September 1990 during the civil war here. Despite his atrocious records, the guerrilla – turned politician and evangelist has been elected twice to the Senate for nine years each. By Winston W. Parley

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