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Tolbert’s killing continues to hinder Liberia’s growth

--Slain former president’s son says 

It has been over four decades since then-sitting President Tolbert and some of his officials were assassinated on 12 April 1980 for corruption and misuse of public offices.

By Lincoln G. Peters 

Monrovia, April 15, 2024: Dr. Richard V. Tolbert, the son of slain Liberian President Dr. William Richard Tolbert, says his father’s assassination brought a dark cloud that continues to hinder Liberia’s growth and progress. 

“It’s exactly 44 years since this great evil was brought against the state. Surely, those who cannot see except those who wish not to see, that there has been a dark cloud,” he said at the Palm Grove cemetery on 12 April 2024.

The families of Tolbert and 11 other officials who were killed in the 1980 coup went out on 12 April 2024 to pay homage to their deceased relatives.

The 19th Liberian president was killed in cold blood in his apartment at the Executive Mansion, and his government was overthrown on accusations of alleged rampant corruption and misuse of public offices, among others.

In the coup’s aftermath, Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) seized power.

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But roughly ten years later, in September 1990, Doe would suffer a gruesome murder by other rebel fighters who were opposed to his rule, plunging the nation into additional years of carnage.

“In fact, on April 22, 1980, it was literally a very dark cloud over this land since April 12, 1980, when President Tolbert was assassinated,” he narrated tearfully. 

For many Liberians, the 12 April 1980 coup was a necessary change of the guard and a much-needed opportunity to right the wrongs of the past.  

But this historic day continues to remind Liberians, especially families of the deceased, of the barbaric murder of those officials.

Dr. Tolbert read a special statement at the grave site during their weekend visit to the Palm Grove Cemetery.

He lamented that it was exactly 44 years ago when a great evil was perpetrated not only against the Tolbert family but also the destiny and people of Liberia.

He stated that for those who have not yet recognized the great harm that was done, “I can only say, I leave your own with God.”

As painful as this day was and still is to many, he said every minute is fresh in their memories, as if it was just yesterday.

“We say we bear no grudge in our hearts against our enemies past or present,” but instead pray to the Almighty with all sincerity for the uplifting of his judgment, if there be any against the perpetrators of those wicked deeds and this nation,” Dr. Tolbert pointed out. 

As a family, he said they begged God’s forgiveness for those and all the sins and the sins of those who orchestrated those evil acts.

He prayed that the soul of President Tolbert and all those killed with him during the coup of 12 April 1980, including A.B. Tolbert and Varney Dempster … find true repose and rest in perpetual peace and light.

He also recalled how on 12 April 1975, Finance Minister Steve Tolbert mysteriously died in a plane crash.

“And since sometime in 1980, when A. Benedict Tolbert and former Police Director Varney Dempster were taken out of prison cell at night and murdered, their bodies never to be found,” he stated.

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One Comment

  1. Very very sad for Liberia and Liberians who saw what president Tolbert started.

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