After Charles Taylor, What Next?

By Jeremiah Jefferson Kringar Harris

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

September 25, 2003

Charles Taylor, the epitome of modern day African War-Lordism and all of its obnoxious hang-ups, has finally succumbed to international pressure and reluctantly departed Liberia after accepting Nigerian President Obasanno's gracious offer of exile in Nigeria. The Nigerian leader, for reasons best known to himself, voluntarily guaranteed Taylor protection from prosecution by the U. N. sponsored Tribunal on War Crimes in Sierra Lone.

These amazing concatenations of events have created a significant and crucial milestone in the historical sequence of our beloved patrimony. As a people, Liberians must now move forward with the urgent tasks of restructuring the utterly discombobulated socio-politico and economic fabric of our great nation, Africa's oldest Republic, and once the beacon of hope for the emerging peoples of Africa in their mammoth struggles to unhinge the shackles of western imposed colonialism. The historicity of this cannot be denied.

Now that we are in the throes of navigating one of the most torturous paths in the Rubicon of our national existence, with the selection of an Interim Government by the Warring Factions and the Political Parties, the rebuilding of our nation begins in earnest.

In compliance with the Accords initialed in Accra by the Warring Factions and the Political Parties, the Interim Government must surrender its mandate to an elected government by January 2005. While, I would grant, this shortens the trek in our march towards participatory democracy, it is my ardent conviction that such matters, given the many un-pleasantries suffered by our people in the recent past, must undergo the highest level of scrutiny.

If this holds true, and it certainly does, then of course it would not be too farfetched to query the adequacy of the somewhat abbreviated time frame of 2 years endorsed in Accra. I am troubled and befuddled by this rationed pace and by whether it is appropriate to the orderly implementation of the process of rebuilding our nation and, by the same token, preparing it for elections.

As a consequence of the foregoing, and in the interest of the Liberian people, I propose that this time frame be amended to at least 3 years. Anything less could portend disastrous consequences for the peace and tranquility for which Liberians so prayerfully yearn. We need at least three years.

Significantly though, as a realist, and being acutely aware of the mindset of our politicians, I am convinced that they would derail all efforts to amend the current arrangements in a most unceremonious fashion, being overwhelmed, as they are, by their zest and overriding penchant for personal political aggrandizement, as they seek to linger in the corridors of power. They would not countenance the proposed extension, as it would put a damper on their self-seeking and gluttonous attempts to grab all of the crumbs of power. Our Politicians deliberately short-changed us in Accra, by opting for a time frame of 2 years.

Nevertheless, all things being equal, the recent events in Accra must now be relegated to the dustbin of history, as a prolonged debate might delay the dawn of a new day in our country. Time, thus far, is of the essence.

Although the Interim Chairman, by virtue of his position as Head of Government, will be a major player in the ensuing state of affairs, the onus for the success of the entire process of reconciliation in our nation and the development of infrastructure vital to its reemergence as a nation state must, in totality, be the absolute responsibility of the United Nations.

There are three basic tenets to this theory: (1) On the strength of recent resolutions passed by the Security Council, the United Nations has assumed the role of guarantor of security in Liberia. I should note that, a degree in Nuclear Physics is not a prerequisite to understanding the overly simplistic notion that nothing positive will occur in Liberia in the absence of security. (2) The U. N. will provide the bulk of the funding, projected by its Envoy, Jacques Klien to be in the neighborhood of a half billion dollars, that would be earmarked for reconstruction, development and security. (3) If this holds true, and given the penchant of our politicians for corruption, the United Nations must have control over the funding as well as the relevant awarding of contracts, if the deadly cancer of kickbacks is to be stifled.

Meanwhile, the Interim Chairman must emphatically set the tone of the role his government will play, while walking a diplomatic tightrope, in preparing the nation for an orderly transition to democracy. Once more, it is only fair to wonder as to the achievability of all of this within the span of 2 years.

In order to succeed, the Interim Chairman must, without a modicum of doubt, realize the delicacy of his situation and proceed accordingly. Ethnicity and regionalism must be put on the backburner, the national interest always being paramount. As such, the Interim Chairman must be adamant in preventing the Political Parties and the Warring Factions from imposing their personal agendas on his government. This will involve an extraordinary display of political dexterity and diplomatic skills.

Gyude, I do not doubt you ability to succeed. However, your chances of success would be greatly enhanced and inherently sealed in bronze, were you to embrace the counsels of individuals with the realism and the intellectual perception of the direction that the nation must take.

Above all, you must chart a middle course as you proceed, being ever mindful of the evil tentacles of the Politicians and the Agents of perpetual warfare. If you would Gyude, please do not get ensnared in their webs of blind ambition.