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Why Not Jonathan Massaquoi? …As Cllr. Kruah’s Appointment Stings WECC

By Bill W. Cooper 

Despite his push for the War and Economic Crimes Court establishment in Liberia, appointments by President Joseph Boakai are said to be raising concerns amongst some Liberians.

The latest is Cllr. Cooper Kruah as Justice Minister, with many believing his appointment could jeopardize the establishment of a much-awaited War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia.

 They are of the conviction that the court’s establishment, which seeks to bring justice to victims of war crimes and atrocities committed during the country’s dark past, might not be actualized, due to Cllr. Kruah’s relationship with Senator Prince Johnson. 

Cllr. Kruah, former Minister of Post and Telecommunications during former President, George Weah’s regime, was nominated by President Boakai as Justice Minister recently. 

Others nominated by the Liberian leader include Cllr. Jeror Cole Bangalu, Minister of Youth and Sports; Jerolinmek M. Piah, Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs, and Tourism, and Gbeme Horace Kollie, Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection.

Others are Roland Giddings, Minister of Public Works; Sirleaf Tyler, Minister of Transport, and Bill McGill Jones, Deputy Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.

Meanwhile, Dehpue Zuo is Deputy Minister for Economic Management, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning; Anthony Myers, Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning; Tanneh Brunson, Deputy Minister for Budget and Development Planning at the Ministry of Finance Development Planning; Elwood T. Nettey, Comptroller and Accountant General, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, and Amos Tweh, Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company.

Also, Emmanuel N. Reeves and Jake Kabakole were named as Officer in Charge of the Liberia Maritime Authority and the National Oil Company of Liberia respectively, as they are to oversee the institutions until their official heads are named.

But prior to Kruah’s nomination, report had it that President Boakai was in a state of dilemma in picking his Justice Minister, who would double as Attorney General of the country. 

However, it also reported that his Vice president, Jeremiah Koung, and political ally, Prince Johnson, were prevailing on him to pick the Chairperson of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR).

Boakai, according to sources, was resolved to naming Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi to the top position, but it did not materialize as his name was later withdrawn due to disagreement from Sen. Johnson and VP Koung, leading to Cllr. Kruah’s nomination. 

According to our source, both Sen. Johnson and VP Koung’s push stemmed from his (Johnson) past as a warlord, with a controversial background, and fear of being prosecuted for his deeds.

They also claimed that it was a result of President Boakai’s recent pronouncement regarding the initiation of feasibility studies for a war and economic crimes court in the country. 

They added that Sen. Johnson, in an attempt to exert influence, pushed for Cllr. Kruah, who could act as a shield, potentially hindering or impeding the establishment of the court.

The establishment of the WECC has been a long-standing demand from victims and civil society groups, as these organizations, along with the international community, have been pushing for a transparent and impartial process to ensure justice prevails.

The court intends to address the brutalities and atrocities committed during Liberia’s civil wars, which ravaged the nation from 1989 to 2003.

During this period, Liberia witnessed widespread human rights abuses, including massacres, sexual violence, and the enslavement of child soldiers. 

The horrors inflicted upon innocent civilians resulted in the deaths of thousands and left countless others scarred physically and emotionally.

It comes at a time when the United States Government and other international partners have reportedly made promises of some financial assistance towards the court’s establishment.

It can be recalled that in his inaugural message, President Boakai was emphatic on the need to hold people accountable for war and economic crimes across the country. 

He said, “An estimated quarter of a million of our people perished in the war. We cannot forever remain unmoved by this searing national tragedy without closure.”

“So, we have decided to set up an office to explore the feasibility for the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court (WECC), to provide an opportunity for those who bear the greatest responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity to account for their actions in court.

“We shall seek advice and assistance from the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General to ensure that the court, if found feasible, will be in compliance with the highest standards of similar courts everywhere,” the President added.

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