President George Manneh Weah has ignored a call by Liberians to establish a War and Economic Crimes Court to hold war criminals accountable for crimes committed during the country’s years of civil conflict.
Delivering his second State of the Nation Address before the Legislature on Monday, 28 January, President Weah simply sounded a warning that peace in Liberia is still fragile and its sustainability is the responsibility of Liberians.
“The peace that we enjoy today was bestowed upon us with the blood and resources of other countries; its sustainability is now our responsibility. We are constitutionally responsible under the law to protect our hard-won peace,” President Weah says.
His regime is not in support of the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court, with arguments that it is not timely for such a court.
Liberia’s civil war ended in 2003 after former President Charles Ghankay Taylor was forced to leave office under pressure of rebel fighters.
One of the key elements that led a brutal rebel faction to end the late President Samuel Doe’s regime, now Nimba County Sen. Prince Yormie Johnson is equally against the establishment of a war crimes court.
Johnson supported Mr. Weah’s presidential bid in 2017 against incumbent Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai.
The civil war which lasted for over a decade resulted in the killings of more than 250,000 people, displaced millions and caused the destruction of properties in tune of millions of dollars.Sitting President Doe was brutally killed in the process, and many survivors of these casualties are seeking justice today.
In his quest to downplay the discussion for War Crimes Court, President Weah reiterates to Liberians what he said earlier at the United Nation General Assembly last year that a nation which has experienced civil war must never take peace for granted, or forget the long shadow that years of conflict still cast over people’s lives.“We must realize and appreciate that ours is still a fragile peace,” he warns.
He says as Liberians strive to reconcile and consolidate all of their resources toward a future of prosperity, “we must uphold the rule of law to enable us forge a sustainable peace.”
President Weah notes that the Ministry of National Defense continues to ensure professional military training of soldiers and it is working with international partners in restructuring a credible defense sector that would maintain the peace and provide enabling environment for the implementation of the pro – poor agenda for prosperity and development.
By Winston W. Parley –Editing by Othello B. Garblah