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Friday, July 19, 2024

Liberia: Ex-Opposition Leader Forms Movement to Confront Graft and Injustice

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Mulbah Morlu, the former National Chairman of the erstwhile ruling Coalition for Democratic Change has established a civil society Movement to fight corruption and end impunity disregarding with the CDC’s noncompliant position on President’s Boakai’s asset recovery initiative.

He urged Liberians to support the President’s anti-corruption efforts and to dismantle what he called the cycle of impunity.

Named and styled the Movement-STAND, Morlu who this Month stepped down as Chair of the CDC said the group will serve “as the collective conscience of Liberia’s vital civil society that will advocate for justice, good governance and the rule of law.

“Those driven by selfishness and greed, who ignited the flames of destruction but lack the ability to rebuild the nation, must not escape legal consequences,” He said.

“The Movement STAND will continue to serve as the embodiment of the collective conscience of Liberia’s critical grassroots sector, representing the marginalized population that remains excluded from the fair distribution of the nation’s wealth.

“This creates a disadvantaged majority harboring significant grievances. It is the sons and daughters of these disenfranchised individuals, whether living or deceased, who have chosen to champion the struggle of this Movement. Their efforts will lead to the transformation of our nation-state through civil society advocacy, establishing it as a stronghold of freedom and economic prosperity for all.”

See full statement below

Statement by Mulbah K. Morlu, Chairman, Solidarity & Trust for a New Day, on The Occassion of the Launch of The Movement-STAND, a Grassroots Civil Society Organization Committed to Ending Impunity in Liberia.

Distinguished Guests;

Fellow Citizens;

Traditional Chiefs;

Revered Clerics and Religious Leaders;

Hardworking Parents, Guardians, and all Affected by Liberia’s Tragic Civil Conflicts;

Diligent Public Servants;

Committed Traders, Taxi, Bus, and Pen-Pen Operators;

Forward-thinking Student Organizations;

Resilient Agricultural Workers & Gold Miners;

Members of the Press;

Ladies and Gentlemen.

The historic assembly today, where thousands of Liberians have gathered at this ‘Unification Park’ to launch The Movement Solidarity & Trust for a New Day, known as STAND, signifies the beginning of a profound era.

The significance of this occasion is profoundly intertwined with the tragic history of these sandy shores, where senior members of the deposed William R. Tolbert regime were apprehended, restrained, and mercilessly executed under the orders of master sergeant, Samuel K. Doe.

Forty years on, the sands of this exact beach, where their lives were extinguished, remain stained, unmoved by the ceaseless waves of the sea. In a harrowing echo of that tragedy, albeit on a larger scale, the architect behind the slaughter of 13 Liberians, Mr. Samuel K. Doe, met a similar end, tragically captured, tortured, and brutally murdered by the infamous warlord Prince Y. Johnson.

Following the murder and decapitation of Mr. Doe and numerous of his associates, the violence persisted, plunging once-peaceful Liberia into a state of terror, death, destruction, and unimaginable chaos.

Liberia’s moral fabric suffered a profound alteration unlike any other West African country, with systematic rape of its daughters, exploitation and forced conscription of its youth into merciless killing, and the destruction of billions of dollars worth of valuable infrastructure.

In the pursuit of Truth, Reconciliation, and JUSTICE, the TRC process was initiated, executed, and concluded, yielding significant recommendations. While some pillars of these recommendations were acted upon, the imperative quest for JUSTICE through the establishment of a hybrid war crimes court to prosecute senior perpetrators of atrocities remains unfulfilled.

In contrast to the deceptive strategies and misleading suggestions of certain warlords evading justice, international humanitarian law unambiguously declares that while minor offenses may be forgiven in the pursuit of reconciliation and healing, grave crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and breaches of international humanitarian law cannot be pardoned or forgiven.

As a result, 44 years after the murder of 13 Liberians who were unlawfully executed without due process, and 21 years after the cessation of a brutal civil conflict that sadly claimed the lives of 250,000 innocent citizens, The Movement-STAND has emerged as the collective conscience of Liberia’s vital civil society, committed to taking a decisive stance against impunity.

We pledge to advocate for closure through justice, addressing the brutality and disgrace inflicted upon our people.

Amid the brazen and deliberate provocation by the main instigators of Liberia’s upheaval, who continue to exert political and economic sway while their victims suffer, we urge all Liberians to stand up and dismantle the cycle of impunity.

Those driven by selfishness and greed, who ignited the flames of destruction but lack the ability to rebuild the nation, must not escape legal consequences.

The Movement STAND, in response to growing social movements advocating for collective change, draws inspiration from recent legislation passed by the Honorable National Legislature, which authorizes the establishment of a war and economic crimes court for Liberia.

While applauding this significant step forward, The Movement-STAND calls upon the Liberian Senate to act in the best interest of the nation by aligning with the House of Representatives in establishing a war crimes court to prosecute senior perpetrators of egregious crimes.

It is evident that any unforeseen delays in the Honorable Senate’s thoughtful decisions regarding concurrence may cast doubt on the integrity of this esteemed institution, implying that it may be shielding war criminals who rightfully should face imprisonment as a result of due judicial process.

Furthermore, the leadership of STAND wishes to express heartfelt gratitude to the United States government and members of the international community for their invaluable support directed to the establishment of a war and economic crimes court in Liberia.

The leadership of STAND views the support of the US and its allies as an essential factor in the pursuit of justice for Liberian war victims.

Regarding President Boakai’s recent executive order establishing the ‘Office of Assets Recovery And Task Force,’ The Movement-STAND wholeheartedly embraces this initiative. STAND regards asset recovery as a crucial measure for ensuring accountability and stresses the importance of maintaining its integrity without deviation due to unprofessional conduct or unfair targeting.

STAND also welcomes Mr. Boakai’s call for audits of governing institutions as a necessary moral stride toward preserving governmental integrity and combating corruption. Therefore, we call upon all Liberians to rally behind these integrity measures and anticipate President Boakai’s commitment to holding all public servants accountable, regardless of political affiliation or ethnicity.

Similarly, we urge President Boakai to ensure that this endeavor is executed with professionalism and impartiality, devoid of any hint of witch-hunting or political bias.

As a civil society organization centered on the welfare of the people, deeply committed to upholding the rights of every Liberian regardless of tribe, status, religion, or location, The Movement-STAND condemns in the strongest terms the appalling reports of police brutality, which has emerged under the Boakai-led government in Kinjor, Grand Cape Mount County.

These reports allege the senseless loss of life and numerous injuries among citizens who were simply exercising their fundamental right to assemble and protest. It is alarming that the very institution entrusted with safeguarding lives has resorted to excessive force.

The eyewitness accounts of the Liberia National Police brutalizing and even murdering its own citizens to safeguard the interests of a concession company, known for its longstanding violations of Liberians’ rights, are profoundly disturbing. STAND is deploying a fact-finding team to Kinjor, labeled a ‘crime scene,’ to scrutinize these egregious acts.

We categorically condemn the indiscriminate killing of innocent Liberians and retain the prerogative to pursue additional measures against the Boakai-led administration pending the findings of our investigation into the police’s excessive use of force.

-More reasons to STAND –

In conclusion, as a nation founded on the principles of the rule of law, which must endure across successive governments, The Movement-STAND urges President Boakai to reject partisan influences that seem to be guiding decisions leading to the violation of tenure positions.

His appointments of individuals to roles clearly designated as ‘Tenure’ blatantly disregard the law. Without a reversal of these actions, there is a risk of inciting swift public disobedience.

Hence, if such violations continue, including instances of reprehensible police brutality against peaceful citizens, The Movement-STAND will mobilize decisive public action, rallying Liberians to engage in peaceful yet resolute mass civil disobedience aimed at safeguarding the integrity of governance and preserving our democracy.

Continuing on this path will only invite further public disobedience, a stance that STAND is prepared to champion against any form of police brutality and injustice.

As stated, The Movement STAND will continue to serve as the embodiment of the collective conscience of Liberia’s critical grassroots sector, representing the marginalized population that remains excluded from the fair distribution of the nation’s wealth.

This creates a disadvantaged majority harboring significant grievances. It is the sons and daughters of these disenfranchised individuals, whether living or deceased, who have chosen to champion the struggle of this Movement. Their efforts will lead to the transformation of our nation-state through civil society advocacy, establishing it as a stronghold of freedom and economic prosperity for all.

My fellow citizens, The Movement STAND does not come to sympathize with ‘Business as Usual,’ but rather to disrupt the Status Quo by standing up for the vulnerable, the needy, and the voiceless!

STAND, an all-Liberian, non-political Movement, recognizes the adverse effects of the absence of robust civil society initiatives in Liberia. It rises to the occasion to fill this void, advocating for a stable, peaceful, equitable, and just society both within Liberia and across the West African sub-region.

Our determination is fortified by the rising geopolitical tensions fostering unwarranted authoritarian governance in the West African sub-region. This erosion of democratic principles must be vehemently opposed, as it undermines the advancement of democracy.

Moreover, the decline in public trust during the Weah-led government, coupled with growing domestic skepticism regarding public policy decision-making under the Boakai administration, highlights the urgent need for civil society intervention.

This underscores why the increasing support for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court in Liberia should unite all Liberians in solidarity. This urgency is compounded by the alarming threats to stability posed by a coalition of former warlords, led by notorious warlord Prince Y. Johnson, who claims to be mobilizing these former combatants for destabilizing activities.

STAND calls on all Liberians to rise and take a stand in defense of the motherland against these threats from war criminals. Their propensity for destabilization pales in comparison to the collective strength of a united people incensed by impunity and threats to democracy.

To these feeble threats, we send a clear message to warlords: This is not 1990 to 2003! We, the people, stand for peace and justice, and though unarmed, we are ready to defend democracy against armed insurgency, particularly threats from murderers and criminals.

Finally, during these trying times, rebuilding trust in the democratic system necessitates the emergence of a robust civil society capable of holding the Boakai-led government accountable and advocating for a fair and equitable society, thereby reducing the likelihood of unrest.

This is the reason why The Movement STAND (Solidarity & Trust for A New Day) stands as a beacon of hope for a nation disillusioned by broken promises.

STAND functions as a resilient grassroots mechanism, promoting a rule-based system to prevent regression and lawlessness.

The Movement STAND brings together courageous individuals with patriotic and nationalistic principles, regardless of their political beliefs or ethnic backgrounds. We prioritize Liberia’s well-being above all else.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us gather dependable, sincere, and well-intentioned Liberians, encouraging them to join STAND, as it is time to challenge the status quo for a brighter Liberia.

It’s time to speak up for the voiceless!

Let’s stand together and put an end to impunity!

For in these solemn promises, our steadfast commitment remains unwavering:

“I’ll take a stand

I’ll raise my voice

Not to cause harm

But to uphold what is right”

Thank you.

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