It Is Just A Question Of Character

By Mohamedu F. Jones, Esq.

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted April 27, 2002

One of the most important and difficult questions any nation faces, as it assesses national leadership, is reaching judgment of the relationship between its leader’s character and the kind of national leadership that he or she offers. For Liberia, we are in that unenviable and undesirable place in world history of being able to reach judgment about the connection between our national leaders and his character with a great deal of ease; Charles Taylor is president of the Republic of Liberia. This statement tells it all.

It seems that President Taylor studied with great care all the worst excesses of all the worst presidents in Africa over the last 40 years, and then decided to adopt all their worst practices as models for his rule. For any leader to embark down the roads that President Taylor consistently elects to take, that leader must be determined to lead a failed state. Such a leader must want an economy that does not work, children who are not learning, an administration that cannot provide governmental services, a country that is consistently condemned in international forums, and national systems that cannot offer opportunities for progress and development. It is simply unreasonable to conclude that Liberia is not exactly where President Taylor wants it to be. The state of the country today is not just the result of President Taylor’s actions; the present conditions are the objectives of his actions. The president’s character and the national leadership he offers correlate perfectly.

This brings me to Counselor Tiawan Gongloe. Cllr. Gongloe is a man with a steady moral center; he is very principled, and honors the values of compassion and concern. He believes passionately in democracy and the rule of law. He became a lawyer for the sole purpose of promoting democracy and fostering the institution of the rule of law in Liberia. He defends human rights not to challenge the government, but to promote justice. He speaks out not to place himself at risk, but to promote the interest of the Liberian people. He lives in Liberia not to offer himself as a sacrificial lamb, but because he believes in our country and people, and wants to contribute to the national future. Cllr. Gongloe’s character and what he does in Liberia correlate perfectly.

The “arrest” and beating of Tiawan Gongloe on April 24, 2002 is also in character. The actions of the police chief, Paul Mulbah, concerning Cllr. Gongloe’s arrest, is in line with his character. His leadership model is not to act as the chief of an agency that “protects and serves” the citizens, but rather to act as supervisor-in-chief of violations of citizens’ rights with characteristic zeal. He presents a good model of the kind of police chief that correlates with President Taylor‘s model of governance. He is determined to be a better police chief in that mold than even his predecessor, the late Mr. Joe Tate.

Cllr. Gongloe’s legal and political advocacy is directed to “the purpose of promoting unity, liberty, peace, stability, equality, justice and human rights under the rule of law, with opportunities for political, social, moral, spiritual and cultural advancement of our society, for ourselves and for our posterity.” (Preamble, Constitution of Liberia.) His arrest and mistreatment are definitely not in character with the purpose of our national Constitution, which he believes in to the core of his being. It is however in perfect character with the governmental purpose of President Taylor, which is to head a government that is not participatory, that is not accountable, that is not transparent, that is not responsive to the needs and aspirations of the Liberian people, that is neither effective nor efficient, and does not follow the rule of law, and is clearly unresponsive to the present and future needs of the society. It is all simply a question of character.

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