By Festus Poquie
The United States government has objected to the election of notorious Liberian warlord Prince Y. Johnson as Chair of the Senate Committee on Defense and Intelligence.
Johnson a third-term Senator since 2006 has served the committee as member including co-chair, providing oversight to the country’s military and intelligence community.
In those roles he has been influencing decisions with respect to determining who serves on the country’s military high command.
The US Embassy in Monrovia said in a May 19 statement Senator Johnson’s gross human rights violations during Liberia’s civil wars rendered him unfit to hold the office.
“His continued efforts to protect himself from accountability, enrich his own coffers and sow division are also well known,” the Embassy said.
“That the Liberian Senate would see fit to elevate him to a leadership role – particularly in the area in which he has done this country the most harm — creates doubts as to the seriousness of the Senate as a steward of Liberia’s defense and security.
“The U.S. government is proud of our longstanding partnership with the Ministry of National Defense and Armed Forces of Liberia which will continue — but we can have no relationship with Senator Johnson.
PYJ Statements of War
Though a professed Christian and born-again-democrat, he has been making statement of war in relation to potential establishment of war crimes Court to prosecute the country’s war actors.
Prince Y. Johnson, now Senator for Nimba County, is listed amongst more than 30 Liberians who the country’s erstwhile Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia said bears the greatest responsibility of atrocities committed during the civil conflict.
In Nov. 2018 he issued fresh statement of war amidst mounting pressures from justice activists for war crimes accountability in Liberia and the U.S. Congress adaptation of a resolution backing the establishment of an extraordinary tribunal for war and economic crimes.
If activists pushing for the establishment of a war crimes court had the power of the President to prosecute them the army will split between ethnic lines and the country would once again descend into chaos, Johnson said.
“If they say George [President Weah] catch the people, George sees no reason to catch anybody,” he said.
“But if they were the one who were president and they want go after us the army will split. The Mandingo people who there [in the army] too will say where you carrying our somebody. The Gio-Mano people will say where you carrying our somebody. You will have no army, nothing but chaos.”
“If you were to come and catch me [for war crimes] I will fight you,” he said.
“Liberia parliament enacted a law granting amnesty from 1990 to 2003. If you want to amend the law, repel it or throw it away then you will have a crisis on your hand and you will have a regret.
“You won’t even catch me. Because the resistance you will find from young guys will be maximum uncontrollable and ungovernable. Those who talking(war crimes activists) it’s good that you talk so that we can know you so that the day trouble comes here your homes will be visitation area.
“The same crime you want to arrest me for is the same damn crime that Taylor committed and you compensated him with the Presidency. You paid Taylor to be the President of Liberia.
“You compensated Madam Sirleaf for 12 years. Now I’m a Senator looking for job to be your leader and you are talking about war crimes court. Come arrest me. Taylor my boss and Ellen [Johnson Sirleaf] My sponsor. You paid them to be President. My people believe I’m a hero when the other thinks I’m a devil.”