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TEN-POINT (BITTER PILLS) PEACE PLAN FOR LIBERIA: A REJOINDER

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Chief Gonpu Emmanuel Rogers published this Ten-Point Peace Plan on the worldwide web on December 26, 2013; we responded on January 5, 2014.Today, we note that the Chief re-published the same Peace Plan in the daily, local newspaper (FrontPageAfrica, May 11, 2016); hence, this Rejoinder, for the information of the readers on the other side of the argument.

ThePeace Plan
According to the Plan,“. . .It will bevery wrong to start finding peace from the surface without, first, exploring the root cause to our problems.Peace initiative in Liberia must be inclusive with representatives of the indigenous (native Liberian) people, representatives of the indigenous returnees (Congo and Americo-Liberians), representatives of the Mandingo people, representatives of the family of President Tolbert, representatives of the families of the 13 former Government officials that were brutally killed in 1980, representatives of the family of General Thomas G. Quiwonkpa, representatives of the family of President Samuel K. Doe, representatives of the family of President Charles G.Taylor, representatives of our current President (Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, for her role in aiding and abetting the NPFL as she claimed at TRC), representatives of all other former rebel groups and their leaders and representatives of each one of our 15 political sub-divisions in search for lasting peace . . . We must accept responsibility in areas of wrong, apologize to one another and move on . . .”. (Highlights mine).

“Fellow Liberians, I strongly believe before we get total peace and reconciliation in our country, we must critically look at the following ten point peace plan for Liberia. They may be considered the bitter pills of our time, but, I believe they have the ability to cure and unite us and at the same time discourage any seed of discord we continue to sow in our country. We must accept responsibility in areas of wrong, apologize to one another and move on as one people tasking ourselves with the responsibility to fight prolonged corruption and abject poverty in our country”.

The Ten Points/Plans “Plan 1. The indigenous people of Liberia must first apologize to the indigenous returnees for rejecting them when they first put their foot on this soil and understand that the indigenous returnees were only coming back home to where they were taken from. If the Chinese are welcome then how about our own?

Plan 2. The indigenous returnees must thereafter apologize to the indigenous people for treating them like second class citizens like they too were treated in America. Remember KuntaKante and the movie “color purple”?

Plan 3. The indigenous people must on behalf of their soldier/children apologize to the indigenous returnees children whose parents were brutally killed by indigenous soldiers/children.

Plan 4. The indigenous people will also apologize to the Mandingo people for rejecting them for so long. The Mandingo tribe is found among the 16 tribes of Liberia and the notion that they are not Liberians is wrong.

Plan 5. The Krahn people will then apologize to the Gio and Mano people for brutally killing General Quiwonkpa, son of Nimba County.

Plan 6. The Gio and Mano people will then apologize to the Krahn people for brutally killing President Samuel K. Doe, son of Grand Gedehcounty.

Plan 7. All former rebel leaders and their supporters will apologize to the Liberian people for their bad.

Plan 8. We, the Liberian people will then thank the international community for standing by us when we needed them most.

Plan 9. A prayer service will be held thereafter and follow by massive dissemination of the good news throughout Liberia by way of local radio stations.

Plan 10. Unity sporting activities must be organized by LFA to educate our youth and future generation that hatred can only destroy but with unity progress is assured”.

Our Response
Thus, the Peace Plan assumes that all Liberians are guilty of the horrendous crimes committed before they were born, as far back as 1847, during and after the 1980 event, the fifteen-year tragedy of the civil war and to the present; therefore, “we (all Liberians) must accept responsibility . . . apologize to one another . . .”.

But,this assumption is patently false,according to validated records – facts of our past, recent past history, and the present, and the Plan’s implied basis or claim of the discredited notion of “guilt-by-association”, because:

1. All “indigenous returnees” (Congo- and Americo-Liberians) were not, even, born in 1847 nor were officials who took part in the planning and institution of dreaded True Whig Party government that ruled Liberia for 133, consecutive years with, only, a 10-year interruption, nor wereall “indigenous returnees” (Congo- and Americo-Liberians) members of the Association for Constitutional Democracy in Liberia (ACDL), NPFL and associates, the premier organization that conceived the idea (“Doe must Go”) that the government of Liberia andits president must be removed from office by force of arms, organized, planned and achieved the plan.

2. Not all (Gio) Dan/Mahn citizens of NimbaCounty were members of the NPFL nor members of any warring faction that killed other citizens during the civil war.

3. Not all Krahn/Mandingo citizens of Grand Gedeh County or Mandingo citizens of any other countywere members of the Resistance Movements (ULIMO & LPC) nor any other warring faction that took part in the deadly, civil war.

Although Chief Gonpu Rogers’ Peace Plan notes, reasonably and rightly, that “. . . it will be very wrong to start finding peace from the surface without, first, exploring the root cause to our problems”, but the Plan contains nothing, absolutely, about “first exploring” for that“root cause . . .”,such asinvestigation, trial by a court of Law for guilt/punishment or innocence/release of individuals charged with human rights violations as recommended by the Ghana Comprehensive Peace Plan, in obedience to which Liberia’s National Transitional Legislative Assembly enacted the Truth &Reconciliation Commission (TRC)for such investigation and court trial. TheTen-Point Peace Plan, simply, “rushed to judgment” for wholesale apologies and reconciliation.This approach, this “Peace Plan” lacks consideration of the relevant, critical issues; it is dangerous, deeply flawed and tinted with our traditional, ethnic/tribal bigotry. For examples, the Ten-Point Peace Plan Ignored:

a) The Association for Constitutional Democracy in Liberia(ACDL). Founded in Washington, D. C., USA, the ACDL was the brainchild of Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. She conceived and originated the idea (“Doe must Go”) that the government of Liberia and its president must be removed from office by force of arms.With a corps of Liberia’s political notables, former officials of the True Whig Party government and some leading members of the Doe government, under the leadership of Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the ACDL recruited (the late AFL General Tom Quiwonkpa and later, Mr. Charles Taylor) planned, organized and financed the war. The results are history, with Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, now, President of Liberia.

b) The fact that the ACDL recruited, first, AFL Commanding General,Thomas Quiwonkpa, a prominent citizen of Nimba County who was, once, a leading member of the PRC, the Military Government, to carry out, and he did carry out, a bloody coup d’état, but failed in the attempt on November 12, 1985. Unfortunately, he lost his life in the attempt, with thousands of innocent Liberians.

c) The final and successful person recruited by the ACDL was Mr. Charles M. Taylor. With Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s support – political, planning, finance and leadership – Mr. Taylor and his NPFL & INPFL insurgents invaded Liberia military-style and, in fourteen years, brought the Liberian nation to its knees, face to face, with near-total destruction. Today, Mr. Taylor is serving a 50-year prison term for Crimes against Humanity, while Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who planned and carried out the deadly tragedy of the war, is President, with classic, Liberian impunity, of Liberia.

d) Former General and Field Marshall, Mr.Prince Y. Johnson, citizen of Nimba County who distinguished himself by his military capture/occupation of Bushrod Island and the Port of Monrovia during the civil war. The high point of that occupation was not only the General’s impulsive, unprovoked/unpredicted shootings/killings of innocent, hungry refugees, but also, the capture, torture, mutilation of the live President Doe, on video, before final murder. The Honorable Prince Johnson is now the Senior Senator of Nimba County.

The Peace Plan expressed concerns with argument, mainly, for Reconciliation. In an articleelsewhere, we wrote that Reconciliation, in general, is a process designed to settle a quarrel, a difference or estrangement with other(s), due to wrongful acts; re-establishment of friendly relations by and between two or more individuals after a period of intense, unfriendly and, sometimes, deadly, antagonistic encounters.Reconciliation, like the famous, South American dance, tango, (“takes two to tango”) takes two to be successful; that is, that reconciliation takes the coming together, a meeting of the minds, of thevictim(s) of the wrongful acts,on the one hand,and the confessed, remorseful, guilty ones of the wrongful acts,on the other.

In the context of the Liberian, political community that experienced an illegal, armed conflict in which hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens were brutally tortured, maimed, raped and summarily executed, the families of the dead, loved ones, the living victims of this cruel adventure and the confessed, remorseful, guilty perpetrators come together under the auspices of thenational governmentto “settle the quarrel and re-establish friendly relations” – mutual understanding, respect and cooperation and peaceful co-existence – national reconciliation.

This process is carried outafter, not before reasonable, dedicated and diligent institutional reforms (where necessary).That is, the immediate socio-economic well-being of the citizens, including application of the modern, Transitional Justiceapproach, designed for even-handed investigations, arrests, free, fair and open trials, conviction and punishment of human rights violators, with amnesties granted to deserving violators, as well as remedy to and satisfaction of the living victims and families of loved ones victimized during the war.As such, reconciliation is a final or end-process.

The basic, critical reasons for the continuing failure of our desired, national reconciliation include, according to Mark Freeman (Freeman, 2006), failure to attend to and eradicate the prevailing abusive forces,“perpetrators of human rights violations continue to wield increased political, economic, military and police power, whilethe administration of justice, from police to prosecutors to judges, is typically weak and frequently plagued by corruption”,with the absence of the courage or “guts” to speak out clearly and unequivocally against these plagues and associated wrong-doings.Chief Gonpu Rogers is way off track with his Ten-Point Peace Plan.

REFERENCE
Mark Freeman, Truth Commissions and Procedural Fairness, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2006.

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