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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Liberia: Too Many Wars Too Soon Mr. President

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By D. WA HNE JR.

The experiences of World War 1 and 2 have taught leaders the great lessons to not start wars at many fronts with potential forces at the same time as winning or sustaining such wars could be either disastrous or most costly.

Wars are expensive, destructive, and cause development to standstill. They are distractive and disruptive to goals set.

In the worst case scenarios, they never achieve their intended purposes and leave behind trails of human suffering. Germany’s Adolph Hitler was a victim of such wars at many fronts as well as France’s Napoleon Bonaparte.

Before planning and executing a war, strategic research and calculations  are done on the possibilities of winning or losing.

Casualty risks must be contemplated as well. Importantly, one must search out domestic priorities first, pursue them, strengthen the domestic corridor before pursuing the demands of some international actors.

Wars are not only military. They can be reforms, decisions, restructuring of existing structures, changing the status quo, or fighting to discontinue popular existing cultures and traditions and altering social, economic and political courses.

The new administration in Liberia has kicked off its 100 days deliverables with complex, complicated, and very troubling decisions that are openly caught up in legal battles, criticisms and oppositions from various fronts that could possibly rock the nation off its feet if care is not taken.

Though those decisions are in the best interest of the nation, their timings, forms and methods are absolutely troubling. At the moment,  President Boakai is choked with huge domestic responsibilities, obligations, timeline execution of promises, and struggles to complete the very formation of government which by themselves are battles to confront.

The general opinions of Liberians on different media platforms are that the Boakai’s Administration should first engaged the bread and butter issues to win the trust and acceptance of the people as a populace government before getting itself involved or entangled with too many critical and complex battles at many fronts at the same time.

There are pressing domestic problems such as the sudden rise in the currency exchange rate which is reaching a 200 level pedestal, rising cost of transport fares, rising cost of our stable food (rice), scorching heat and epileptic supply of electricity, conflagration of homes due to power fluctuations and poor unsaved electric distribution networks, lack of emergency assistance to fire victims, the still harmonized salaries of civil servants, strike actions by mining employees, mass dismissals of Liberians from their jobs allegedly because of partisan politics, amongst others.

As I endorsed President Boakai’s decision to fight corruption and impunity, I also endorsed a process of legality and utilization of institutions already legally in place to fight corruption.

I also think the President should disabuse the minds of skeptics who believe the fight against corruption and impunity is unholistic, considering the fact that the President himself was vehemently critical of the corrupt practices of the administration he presided over as Vice President.

Critics of his sincerity are challenging him to prove his assertions that opportunities were squandered by bringing the Sirleaf’s administration into the audit spotlight also.

In all circles of the Liberian society, there are troubling questions being asked as regarding the good faith of his moves and whether the Devil’s details are not in them? For example, one of his early decisions was to order the GAC to audit the EPS and the NSA.

I raised the red flag immediately and questioned that decision in my February 15, 2024 Article in the New Dawn News Paper and that of the Oracle Newspaper entitled “Digging into National Security Systems- A Threat to National Security.

In my opinion, that could expose Liberia’s national security covert operations and negatively impact and weaken the security of the President and national security intelligence gathering as such audit would blow off the cover on how our President is protected and how we gather our intelligence information.

The open audit of them instead of utilizing their own audit system would not only be a war to expose the former President and subject him to disgrace as critics believe is President Boakai’s ultimate goal, but it would also be a non-beneficial war against his own security.

I also considered as a counterproductive war against his own signature Rule of Law platform the disregard of the tenure laws by nominating individuals to tenure positions, while tenure holders term of office are yet to expire.

The legal battles that immediately ensued which led to the Supreme Court placing hold on all presidential appointments to tenure positions should not have, at all, taken place under a Boakai’s Administration.

In my effort to contribute to this administration success, I shared my thoughts in an article carried in the Oracle Newspaper on January 13. 2024 and subsequently in the New Dawn Newspaper under the caption, “Partisan Politics Versus Tenure Positions“.

Those articles were written in good faith, hoping that the President would take note to prevent any action or decision that would subject his administration to criticism and legal actions.

My goal was to protect the President of Liberia national and international image since he made an open campaign pledge to Liberians to be the Protector of the Rule of Law.

Unfortunately, the reverse is now the case. There are petitions before the nation’s highest court to place stay order on him.

There are public outcries and expressions of disappointments in him. The President did not need to reach this level. The Tenure battle is still ongoing with advisors convincing him that he is on the right trajectory.

In view thereof, the President has become undeterred and unfailing in his commitment to pursue the abrogation of the tenure debacle.

He has accordingly dismissed the Deputy Director General of NASSCORP for disallowing, as instructed by her superior, the take over of  the institution by a team led by the UP Party Chairman.

The Director General of NASSCORP who is yet to be dismissed had instructed his Deputy not to allow the takeover process as he was out of the Country and on the legal strength that NASSCORP operates under tenure laws.  This recent action is now an undelightful discussion in the public domain.

WAR CRIMES AND ASSET RECOVERY

Nearly all Liberians have been craving for a war and economic crimes court. The Boakai’s administration has launched not only the process leading to the establishment of such court, but has equally launched another war against former President Weah and his officials.

His ability to sustain and win these two battles will depend on the processes he put in place and they must sustain the legal tests.

The war to bring to trial influential warlords before a war crimes court and to pursue the former President and his officials and have their assets seized, are not just simple ordinary wars.

These are major wars to fight by a new government which came to power- not on a popular mandate- but on a far less than 5% win and is yet to take solid roots.

Those individuals and people this administration are engaging into battles with are all politically strong people who have hundreds of thousands of followers combined.  They are influencers of this nation who could possibly build alliances against the government.

In a battle of such, enemies could become friends against a common enemy. In my opinion, this is a chaotic exercise with every signal to ruin reconciliation, national unity, and stability.

There are presumptions that these forces may not shy away from the wars against them, nor deliver themselves willingly to the alter of shame and humiliation. I think the government needs to slow down its energies and re-direct them to solving basic social problems first.

The truth exists that there are overzealous and pro-government supporters who hold the conviction that no one can fight against government, and as such, the government can operate, and, even outside the legal perimeters.

But I have lived to experience events in Liberia and around the world that clearly demonstrate the opposite. The perceptions of the days of Tubman could not hold in the days of Tolbert.

The days of Tolbert brought about a revolutionary change through the struggle launched by G. Baccus Matthew’s. The days of Doe saw a woman, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stirring up crisis and war which brought the administration of President Samuel K. Doe to extinction.

We must learn from history and make sound decisions for the present and for the future with intent to avoid unwanted political and social infernos.

In my honest analysis, if the methods of implementation of critical decisions are not relaxed, reversed, or revisited, there may be presumed consequences.

As we clamor for war crimes court, let us remember the popular saying in Liberia which goes like this, “if you pull rope, rope will pull bush”.

The war crimes court extends not only to former war generals and their lieutenants, but also to other powerful politicians to include the former President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who Liberians claimed allegedly bears the greatest responsibility for the Liberian Civil Wars.

In the minds of analysts they think some of these battles are fierce from a deeper perspective, while the surface looks pleasant. They believe that it is too soon to engage all of them at the same time. They asked, is the Boakai’s Administration prepared to handle all of these battle fronts at the same time?

There is an unusual national uneasiness as the War Crimes Court Resolution is being discussed. Critical questions are arising. What is its urgency now? How does it contribute to reconciliation now after 30 years of self-healing and national co-existence? How does it improve our economy and build new infrastructures that we are in dire need of?

How does it de-harmonize civil servants salaries, give increments to civil servants,  increase wages in the private sector, and create new employments? How does it address WAEC Fees and Tuition free studies at public universities etc?

CONSENSUS BUILDING REQUIRED

The nation is not in consensus as it relates to the War Crimes Court timing. Experts are not in consensus as it relates to auditing the NSA and EPS. Professionals and legal minds are not in agreement as it relates to the establishment of the Asset Recovery Committee juxtaposing it to the LACC.

On a serious note, questions are being asked about the interest and real motives of USA former Military General Allan White?

What is his interest in prosecuting the black race for war crimes and leaving major progenitors and white actors in the Iraq, Afghanistan and Libyan wars where heinous war crimes were said to have been committed? What has he ever contributed to Liberia’s economic and social growth?

Amongst Liberians, there are renewed fears that this development would bring about another outbreak of rebel activity, especially so early at the beginning of President Boakai’s realm, instead of addressing pressing economic problems.

For those who political and economic tables are being served, there are great smiles on the faces as they hope to dance their ways to the bank. Already generals are threatening chaos, while those who perceived themselves as being witch hunted are planning resistance.

The Assets Recovery Committee is being described as another witch hunt war declared by the President and headed by Weah’s administration formidable foe, Cllr. Edward Kla Martins who many talk show callers believe is prepared to go at any distance to ensure that the former President is antagonized, shamed, and demystified as an icon of Democratic leadership in Africa. The Martin’s Committee is expected to consume about US$1.9m. Why him?

The Congress for Democratic Change through its Secretary General, Jefferson Koijee says the Congress will resist the Asset Recovery Committee. Senator Nathaniel McGill says the same.

The extent of resistance is unknown. Would there be a bloody showdown between opposition and the police? We need to assess the ramifications. Consensus on a national level needs to be built.

The Center for Transparency and Accountability has criticized the setting up of the Asset Recovery Committee and calls for its scrapping as it is usurping the role of the LACC.

It is believed that if Cllr. Martin was still LACC Chairman,  he would have run to the Supreme Court and pray for prohibition as this Committee is a usurpation of LACC functions.

I wish to subscribe to views all over the place that the President is doing the right thing, but in the wrong way, with the wrong setups and with the wrong timings. There is the need for a quick and objective review of these decisions.

The LACC has records of all assets declaration of all former public officials and it is the Commission set up to pursue corruption cases and investigate acquisition of assets they find suspicious. They have all GAC reports and have been mandated by law to prosecute corrupt officials.

The question that requires answer is why set up another committee by Executive Order rather then utilizing the Commission established by Act of Legislature? The Martin’s Committee is doing Lifestyle Audit and not forensic investigation to establish losses and corruption.

Furthermore,  GSA has all records of Government Assets and should be utilized to compile inventory of losses and go after them- not private properties.

President  Boakai is my President and President of the Republic of Liberia, and we all have a responsibility to help guide his administration to success.

We don’t have to be appointed to Government or be a UP partisan to do so. This is why we use this platform. Views that we are being expressed should not be taken in the wrong democratic spirit and interpreted as opposition views.

And so, this article is a constructive one and not in opposition to his success, but in the interest of the programs of his administration which might benefit Liberians.

It is my commitment to see this administration succeed and all promises executed to our benefits. To achieve this, we must collaborate and make valuable suggestions. Liberia is the “biggest political party”, saids the late President Doe.

In this light, it is important that the administration deals with the bread and butter issues, strengthen its security, sits firmly, execute populace policies that will deliver social benefits to the people and take on battles one at a time to avoid destabilizing its own programs and agendas.

Reconciliation and unity are cardinals to achieving development aspirations and goals. President George Manneh Weah utilized the right building blocks to keep Liberia peaceful and achieved un-quantified developments.

We think this Administration Reconciliation process is being jeopardized,  high-jacked by extremists and subjected to reactions that may distract and drive the nation into the “Mist of Avalon”.

Let us therefore give priority to actions that will reconcile and unite us as a people. The urgency of this cannot be overemphasized. Politics is not a UP and CDC War. We must cease from making it so.

 

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