Reconciliation Conference Seen as Diversionary Ruse by President Taylor
By A Correspondent
August 27, 2002
Many ordinary people don't have interest in the conference. People rightly see it as a diversionary measure by Taylor to detract the attention of Liberians away from the unbearable hardship that his regime is imposing on the vast majority of the population. Here is a failed state that has not provided a drop of water for its people for over five years. Moreover, the absence of the rule of law by a regime that is often proud to refer to itself as being "democratically elected" clearly shows how tyrannical the government is. Inspite of the numerous calls at home and abroad for : the release of prisoners who have not been tried; the lifting of the state of emergency; and the demilitarization of the country, the NPP government has seen no wisdom in accepting those reasonable calls. How can anyone in his or her right mind believe that Taylor believes in any genuine reconciliation? The entire exercise is just a charade. Will the conference ensure that our rain forests which are so rapidly being depleting by a single person be left alone? How about the maritime funds-will they now be deposited at the Central bank for the use of the country? How about re-opening the BWI which has been shut down since April?
The number of armed men in the city can frighten anyone. These are men (about 75% of them) who have no training beside the use of brute force. They are just waiting for any moment to loot from civilians.
Catholic Archbishop Michael Francis has been elected to chair the conference. Many here (in Monrovia) don't know what motivated him to dignify the invitation by attending the conference. The Archbishop's attendance has prompted his election to chair the proceedings so as to give whatever outcome from the conference an appearance of being seen as credible. The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) is also attending the conference. Some attribute JPC's decision to attend the conference to the fact that Archbishop Francis is in attendance. As for those home based political leaders who are attending the conference, some Liberians are not really surprised at their participation. But the Unity Party and the New Deal Movement are not among them.
Taylor's address at the opening of the conference did not in any way point at reconciliation. He said that conference participants were there to look at Liberian history from the time of the arrival of the first group of settlers. They are also to look at the various ethnic conflicts that Liberia has experienced since its foundation as a nation state.
You need not think that people here have interest in what is happening at the Unity Conference Center. The average Liberian is looking for his or her daily bread. As I write you, lecturers and professors at the University of Liberia are holding on to students' grades until their salaries arrears are paid.