Opinion

Liberia undecided: The Role of Charles Taylor and the Games of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Photo- left to right: George Weah, Alex Tyler, Jewel Howard Taylor, and Charles Taylor

Liberia is a nation with a unique history: founded, as a country, by free African–American slaves in 1847 even though there were indigenous tribal groups living on the land; the only country in Africa not colonized by a Western power but closely aligned with the US and Israel in political, economic and social traditions, policies and values; founding member-state of the League of Nation (now the United Nations) and the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union); stood with almost all African states in their struggle for independence; produced the first woman president (Angie Brooks Randolph) of the United Nations General Assembly; produced the first woman head of state in Africa and the only Muslim leader of Liberia (Ruth Sando Fahnbulleh Perry –former interim president of Liberia, 1996-97 ); produced the first African student (Plenyono Gbe Wole of the Harvard Class 1917) to graduate from an Ivy League school (Harvard University); democratically elected the first woman president in Africa (Ellen Johnson Sirleaf); and a secular country where the majority Christians live in peace and harmony with the minority Muslims and other religious sects.

Wolo (far right), seated with other members of Harvard’s Cosmopolitan Club at a meeting in 1914. (Source: Harvard Gazette)

Despite these historical achievements, Liberia remains a contradiction and a nation betrayed by the international community and its western allies––the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Israel and more. It may surprise most people that the international community selectively prioritized the life, well-being, and satisfaction of one single Liberian citizen over the lives, well-being and the survival of over 4.5 million Liberians that make up the tiny West African nation’s population.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is her name. She does no wrong in the eyes of the international community and even if it becomes clarion clear that her actions contravene international norms and protocols, the international community and Western nations turn a blind eye.  What is the difference between Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Omar al-Bashir of Sudan whose actions caused the death of thousands of South Sudanese? What is the difference between Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe whose insatiable greed for power, political manipulation and cunning games leave millions of Zimbabwean citizens unemployed, helpless, and in poverty? Yet, to the international community and western powers, Bashir and Mugabe are tyrants and Sirleaf is something else––if not a darling.  If this is not hypocrisy what else can it be?

And, in the view of the west and the international community, they expect developing countries to consider them as impartial, credible and honest.  In addition, they expect developing countries to follow orders and listen to the chorus about human rights, free speech, and democracy. How can this be when trust is lacking, when justice is one-sided, and when condemnations and fierce criticisms are partial and indirect?

Europeans and Americans from all walks of life are surprised that ex-Liberian warlord Charles Taylor is wielding tremendous power and influence in the upcoming 10 October 2017 presidential election in Liberia.  But they are never surprised nor questioned that Charles Taylor has never been an alone actor.  He has always had enablers and one such significant enabler is Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the current and outgoing president of Liberia.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

In 1988, Taylor allegedly escaped US prison in Massachusetts with assistance from Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.  In late 1989, Taylor invaded Liberia from the Ivory Coast and waged havoc in a civil war that caused the death of more than 250,000 people, destroyed basic institutions and social services while driving over a million Liberians into refugee life throughout Africa and around the world with the finance and operational instruction of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.  Remember! She instructed Taylor in 1990 to level the Liberian capital city, Monrovia, and that she would build it.  Taylor extended his operations to other West African states, notably Sierra Leone, and for this he is jailed in the UK.

Sirleaf, left, and Taylor, right

Presently, Charles Taylor is said to be interfering in Liberia’s 2017 presidential election for two simple reasons: 1. Because President Sirleaf has single-handily failed the Liberian people on promises she made when they wholeheartedly gave her power.  2. Taylor has got the green light from and is teaming up with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in these latest activities.

As Liberia moves toward a democratic political transition, the misbelieve that Madam Sirleaf, as president, brought and sustained peace in Liberia is dishonest, deceptive and bogus.  The Liberian people are tired of wars and chaos.  The Liberian people, not President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, sustained their own peace.  Left with President Sirleaf, Liberia will be at another war.

No president has played games with the lives of her people than President Sirleaf has done and continues to do.  She is not on good terms with her own vice president (Joseph Nyumah Boakai) who obediently served her administration, and with the very ruling party that ushered her into power. She is also at odd with the opposition parties and presidential candidates except with the one where she and her one-time agent, Charles Taylor, agreed and have decided to collaborate to mend fences.

With less than three days left to vote, Liberians are undecided.  The process in Liberia is not rooted in participatory democracy and freedom.  It is founded on anger and disdain for a president who supposed to have left an indelible public legacy but is instead leaving pains and hurts in the hearts and souls of a nation and people that did everything humanly possible to see her realize her dream of being great.   At 78 years old (born October 29, 1935), Liberians still have a leader who says she finds it hard to forgive and therefore continues to be a maverick with the support of the international community’s deceit and hypocrisy.

The resulting effect of the international community’s hypocrisy in nurturing deceit in instances where truth supposed to be told and appropriate actions taken, they failed.  Hence, perpetuating the unacceptable distraction-related tendencies of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf which have left Liberian voters undecided in what supposed to be first of its kind issue and broad-based free and fair democratic presidential election in the history of Africa’s first independent republic.

No president is more hated in modern history by the governed than President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.  Shockingly, the people that most dislike the president of Liberia are Liberian girls, women, and students.  Customarily, girls, women, and students gravitate to a female leader more than they do to a male leader.  The assumption is, a female is motherly and tender-hearted, caring and kind, supportive and generous.  So, what went wrong in the case of Liberia?  Why is President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf so hated by Liberian girls, women, and students?

Supporters and beneficiaries of the president’s misrule will argue that because she (President Sirleaf) allows free speech. That would be disingenuous at best.  Critics would say her persistent ‘bad actions’ and ‘self-appeasing decisions’ have taken the Liberian people to the breaking point of ‘enough is enough.’  This is especially true when a leader lost the trust and respect of his or her people.

Main competitors – left to right: VP Boakai, Weah, Brumskine, Urey, Mills Jones, and Cummings

There are 20 presidential candidates.  On 10 October 2017, the world should not be surprised when an undecided Liberia decides on a devil or a fool (instead of a tested, patriotic, knowledgeable, and experienced candidate) as their next leader because that is what their darling––Ellen Johnson Sirleaf––wants. And ultimately, that is what Liberia, West Africa, Africa and the world might get if the international community and Liberia’s western allies continue to sit in profound deceit and hypocrisy.

It would be accepted as a misjudgment to hurt a nation and people once, but twice, it is an inborn attitude that should not be tolerated by all, irrespective of where they live on earth.  Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Charles Taylor have hurt Liberia and the Liberian people once.  Yet, Liberians forgave them and the world turned a blind eye.  Both are trying to negatively interfere in Liberia’s most defining democratic process: the Tuesday, 10 October 2017 presidential election. This, Liberians might not forgive and this the world should not turn a blind eye on.  Everyone is watching!

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Jones Nhinson Williams

Jones Nhinson Williams is a Liberian philosopher (born in Pleebo, Maryland County but hailed from River Gee County) firmly educated by the Catholic Church. He is an American trained public policy, labor market information, strategic management, and workforce development professional with accomplished global experience in job creation and institutional governance.

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