Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Will Liberians Reward the Culprits, Again?

Questions With Clear Answers

Recycled Liberian Politicians are back. This time around, it is to compete through the ballot box, not with the barrel of the gun. Liberians in many places are asking themselves, “Can these people make a difference this time?” Will Liberia ever rise up to live up to its true meaning, giving every Liberian the opportunity to lead a happy and dignified life? How could this be possible when the same old goats have changed skins, and are now acting in sheepskin, trying to elude people of their true colors? Will Liberians continue to reward bad people with high power government jobs – positions they use to pillage the economy? Making the right choice in October’s elections will go a long way in stabilizing not only Liberia, but also the entire sub-region of West Africa.

Just for the record, Radio Veritas, this week, hosted a debate among some of the top contenders for the country high post. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (UP), Varney G. Sherman (COTOL), Roland Massaquoi (NPP), and Tipoteh (ADP) were on air in their bid to convince the voters. Each spoke some very sound language as to why Liberians should vote for him/her. When the candidates were asked about the possible trail of Charles Taylor, none was willing to “call the dog by its name,” but rather “beat around the bush” about demanding Taylor’s handover and eventual trail.

But what difference does it make in voting for these old politicians? Liberians have heard the same old rhetoric over and over for the past decade. They made million promises to develop Liberia, while the country went down the drain. These were the same folks, for the most part, who justified the civil war they sponsored and directed through their blank promises and bogus language. They may argue that it was to liberate Liberia. Why go to war and against your own people in the name of some stupid concept. Though the Liberian system has never been any good; but it is our responsibility to make it operational through the rule of law, not by being above the law.

How could one talk about human rights when s/he does not have a moral conviction of its true meaning? Liberian politicians have always paid lip service to the decaying human rights’ conditions of this nation. None has ever championed such a cause with vigor and commitment. That leads us to question some candidates’ willingness to support work aimed at promoting sustainable peace in Liberia. And sustainable peace is only attainable when there is sustainable justice.

I was participating in a teleconference last Sunday with some prominent Liberian compatriots. There was a T.Q Harris, who as I learned, withdrew from the election race. He was encouraging conference participants to massively get involved to vote. This is an important point to consider in the process of democratization. But for me, it is not more important than the issue of accountability for the rampant corruption and the quasi-destruction of Liberia over the past 15 years.

I grew up in the midst of the civil war; and I learned the hard way, constantly running from one place to another, sometimes from one country to another. I know there are thousands more of young people out there who experienced similar ordeals. We helplessly watched while friends, neighbors, and love ones were tortured and butchered (Jerry do you remember the time I was almost executed in Lofa in March of 1993, while they [rebels] cut off your ear?). How can anyone forget the kidnapping and forced enlistment of young boys and girls to fight for warlords? These young people for the most part, lost their lives or are almost useless in the postwar society. This is not democracy!

Liberians have an opportunity next October to embark on a new path to rebuilding a new Liberia. How can Liberia live up to its true meaning if there is no precedent in terms of responsibility and accountability for atrocities and other crimes committed in the war? Rebel fighters from all the factions raped, maimed, and killed innocent men, girls, women and children. Millions of dollars worth of property (towns and villages) was destroyed in the so-called “struggle to liberate the people.” How can one commit atrocities against the same people you claim to liberate? Shameful deeds!

Now is the time for someone prominent to come out and say “Enough!” to all the intimidation and manipulation by the same old goats now in sheepskin. How can we entrust a nation to criminals – people who do not champion justice? They may preach it in their scanty political speeches, but it is mere lip service to quell scrutiny from the Liberian People and the International community.

Will Liberians continue to reward those who maimed, killed, raped their love ones, and who burnt their towns and villages? I will bet that Liberia will not afford another decade of suppression, dictatorship, or any form of anarchy. Liberians ought to change the course of the tide this time, and in their favor. Read the Internet news, stay tune to Radio Veritas and other local news channels to get updates on the ongoing political debate about the presidency. For the masses, who do not have access to these media, informed Liberians should strive to enlighten their peers on the election process. Pro-democracy groups must partnered and make sure that every Liberian gets the true picture of each presidential candidate and his/her running mate. Such an action will empower the people to make informed decisions when casting their ballot come October 11, 2005. Remember that information is power; we should use it to change Liberia for the better!

The Voice

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