As Liberia enters the middle of the year 2020, there can be no question that this is a very critical period in the country, which is currently struggling to sustain the progress in democratic governance and economic revival that were made since the end of the brutal and destructive civil war. Besides rampant corruption and bad governance rapidly undermining the gains made thus far, the poverty-stricken country’s problems are compounded by the murderous COVID-19 pandemic, which is wreaking havoc on lives and economies around the globe.
Liberia finds itself in this precarious state because of failure to adhere to the tenets of good governance and accountability, as well as refusal to address issues from the country’s unresolved past, among which are inequality and abuse of power with impunity. Since the end of the nearly 15-year devastating civil war, which cost the lives of an estimated 250,000 people, Liberia’s government has failed to initiate a serious process of reconciliation or establish war and economic crimes courts to bring about a sense of accountability and national healing.
My recently-published book, Corruption is Destroying Africa: The Case of Liberia, which is available online, contains several critical recommendations for Liberia in particular and Africa in general, which are essential to ensure sustainable peace and prosperity. This post deals with three of the recommendations regarding accountability and reconciliation as critical to ensuring sustainable peace and progress in Liberia.
In the wake of the seemingly unending problem of rampant corruption, which remains a grave threat to Liberia’s peace, stability and progress, as well as the rapid decline of Liberia’s economy, the book expresses the urgent need for strong international involvement to stabilize the country’s economy as was the case following the end of the civil war.
Accordingly, the book strongly recommends for Liberia’s international partners to engage the Liberian Government for the purpose of reaching another agreement, similar to that of the Governance and Economic Management Assistance Program (GEMAP), under which the international community would assist in the management of Liberia’s resources.
Liberia could suffer another economic collapse, as was the case during the civil war, if the economy continues to deteriorate at the prevailing pace, without the appropriate interventions to reverse the losses. The country currently lacks a competent management team to effectively manage the affairs of the national economy. Growing public protests and unrest in Liberia due to the very painful economic hardship being endured by a mass of the largely poverty-stricken population, could easily destabilize the already fragile post-war country.
While there were some shortcomings with the GEMAP, as some critics have noted, the agreement led to the institution of financial policies and programs that contributed to the rapid revival of the Liberian economy, which won international recognition as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Unfortunately, after the Liberian government assumed full control of managing the national economy following the expiration of the GEMAP agreement, the country once again began to turn back to the dysfunction state of governance, as corruption became the order of the day.
The book also calls on the international community to support the desire of the Liberian people for the establishment of war and economic crimes courts in Liberia. This is intended to contain the culture of impunity, which has emboldened known war and economic criminals in Liberia. What civilized country there is in the world where individuals accused or indicted for economic crimes against the state are elevated to higher positions in government? Only in a dysfunctional country like Liberia where you have accused criminals in power and using their influence to undermine well-meaning people and the progress of the country for self-aggrandizement.
As Liberians grapple with the delicate matters of reconciliation, the book recommends that Late President William R. Tolbert of the Republic of Liberia,
President William R. Tolbert who was assassinated and 13 officials of his government executed in the wake of the 1980 military coup, be granted official pardon posthumously. That all charges brought against the deposed President and officials of his government by the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) military junta which seized power, be dropped.
That the remains of President Tolbert be exhumed and officially reburied, and he is accorded all the honors befitting a former president of the Republic of Liberia. The book also recommends that a monument be erected at the mass grave where the 13 officials, which included the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, and the internationally-renowned Minister of Foreign Affairs, were buried, and their names engraved on said monument. As a country and a people, this is the least we can do, in the name of Jesus, to give some closure to the families and loved ones of those that were murdered.
Tolbert and his officials were charged with rampant corruption and gross abuse of power, among others. Is Liberia better off now than during the era of President Tolbert? Are corruption and abuse of power, for which Tolbert and his officials were killed, under control in Liberia since the overthrow of that government?
Considering Liberia’s prevailing state of affairs, I can say without fear or hesitation that Tolbert and his officials were murdered for nothing. What was the benefit of killing those people only for the country to end up under the control of a bunch of misfits, as well as known war and economic criminals, who are plundering the country and undermining national peace and progress? Can you imagine how many officials from the recent past and present governments that would face the firing squad if a similar rule of the jungle were to be applied as was the case in 1980, where the defendants were convicted by a kangaroo military tribunal that denied them the right to defend themselves in keeping with due process of law.
The next post will deal with how Liberia’s leadership role in the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), renamed African Union (AU), which is being distorted and forgotten. The book recommends measures that are needed to be taken to give Liberia, Africa’s oldest independent Republic, the credit it deserves for its leadership in Africa during the African continental struggle from colonial subjugation. Even though Liberia became a disgrace in Africa and lost its place of honor because of the civil war, this does not mean that history should not truthfully reflect the contributions and sacrifices of our country in the cause of African unity and progress. It was not only The first President of Ghana Osagyef Dr. Kwame Nkrumah
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and the few other African leaders that are celebrated today who contributed to African liberation and unity. As a matter of fact, Dr. Nkrumah and the other new leaders of the then newly independent African countries looked to Liberia for guidance. The brook provides extensive information on Dr. Nkrumah’s family background and other matters, including how Nkrumah’s father originated from Liberia and settled in Ghana, then called the Gold Coast. The book contains two chapters regarding Liberia’s leadership role in Africa. These include accounts of how Mr. Nelson Mandela, the now globally-acclaimed anti-Apartheid icon and former President of South Africa, traveled the world with a Liberian passport before he was arrested and imprisoned for nearly three decades by the racist exploitative minority regime in South Africa. Corruption is Destroying Africa: The Case of Liberia is a food for thought; get it copy and be properly informed and educated. Stay posted.
About The Author: Gabriel Williams is a career journalist and author, who has also served in the government of Liberia as a diplomat in the United States and Deputy Minister of Information for Public Affairs. He is also author of the book, “Liberia: The Heart Of Darkness – Accounts of Liberia’s Civil War and its Destabilizing effects in West,” published in 2002 and also available online.