By Emmanuel Abalo
Source: Running Africa
|Dr. Joseph Gbaba|
A Liberian playwright, political activist and educational scientist Dr. Joseph Gbaba says the country’s TRC Report represents the mandate of the Liberian people. In a letter issued over the weekend entitled Open Letter to the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative to Liberia, the Philadelphia based activist who has been strongly advocating for the full implementation of the Final Report of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) told Madam Ellen Margaret Loj, the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative to Liberia and head of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) that ” I am disappointed by the deaf ears UN, AU, and ECOWAS peace negotiators like you are paying to the refusal of Liberian warlords to implement the various provisions of peace accords signed by them.
Equally so, I am perturbed by the delay the UN has caused in the implementation of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Report due to your biased approach to conflict resolution and the attainment of reconciliation in Liberia. As a consequence of the UN’s, AU’s and ECOWAS’ dubious roles in the Liberian peace process, perpetrators of violent crimes against Liberians and humanity were rewarded with big government jobs and the security of the victims of the Liberian civil war was once again thrust in the hands of their killers.”
According to Dr. Gbaba, ” …Consequently, this decision sent a wrong signal across the globe that the security of the victims of war must be entrusted to those who massacre their people while law abiding Liberian citizens are held hostage by Liberian warlords. Thus mayhem and violence are being institutionalized in post-war Liberia through the belligerent actions of Liberian warlords and the complacence of UN, AU and ECOWAS negotiators. As a result, this is definitely delaying the conclusion of the final phases of the Liberian peace process.”
The Liberian playwright and poet laureate in his letter expressed disappointment in what he said was Madam Loj’s “recent statement that the Liberian people should debate the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in order to show “Liberian ownership.” In his opinion, Dr. Gbaba said “the UN envoy’s statement regarding the issue of “ownership” is a diplomatic ploy to delay the Liberian peace process”.
He challenged the UNMIL boss by saying “…You must act swiftly and bring the situation under control in Liberia, or we will ask for your immediate replacement! “
Dr. Gbaba who has maintained a sustained advocacy for the implementation of the TRC Final Report as well as caustic criticisms of former Liberian warlords and the need for their prosecution in his letter to the UNMIL Chief in Liberia Madam Loj over the weekend also focused his attention on the head of the current Liberian administration headed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
“… if you believe that the TRC Report is not “Liberian” enough, then there is a need for the Sirleaf Government to resign forthwith and to be replaced by an interim government of national unity so that Liberians may hold a national referendum to “debate the issue” and to decide the fate of Liberian terrorist warlords before free and fair elections are held in November of 2011. Other than this, allowing elections to go on next year when there is a hung verdict regarding war criminals in Liberia, and when Liberian war criminals are at the helm of national leadership and national security, then it is obvious that you are in support of Liberian warlords and the prolonged suffering of Liberians.”
The Executive Branch of the Liberian Government maintains that the Final Report of the TRC raises constitutional and legal issues which conflict with the Liberian Constitution and as such the report cannot be implemented. In her quarterly report to the National Legislature over a week ago in Monrovia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf defended her opposition to the non-payment of reparation to war victims. As part of some of its recommendations the country’s National Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommended reparation to victims of the war.
“All Liberians are victims in one way or the other”, the President said to the lawmakers.
President Sirleaf further said that her government lacks the finances for reparation to individual victims, adding that “such a process would be cumbersome because all Liberians can claim to be victims of the war”.
But at an appearance before lawmakers at the Capitol Building last week, Liberia’s TRC Chairman Cllr Jerome Verdier that there is a need for justice through a criminal tribunal to ensure accountability.
The Final Report and recommendations of the country’s TRC remain mired in deep controversy. There is a huge support for and against the implementation of the recommendations of the TRC.
Former warlords have served notice that they will oppose any attempt to prosecute them for their excesses committed during the war.
The United Nations Mission In Liberia (UNMIL) which was established in September, 2003 as a result of UN Security Council Resolution 1509 has the following as its mandate:
Support for Implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement,
Protection of UN Staff, Facilities and Civilians
Support for Humanitarian and Human Rights Assistance and Support for Security Sector Reform
UNMIL is also mandated to support the implementation of the Liberian Peace Process.
UNMIL maintains an 8,000-strong military, police and civilian peacekeeping outfit in Liberia and has been tasked to assist with providing logistical support for the holding of constitutionally mandated Presidential and General Elections in 2011.