A Liberian Group in Minnesota
Decries Conditions in Liberia
October 3, 2000
Nearly ten years ago, the masses of the Liberian people participated in a military campaign that brought down the leadership of the country. The government of Samuel Kanyon Doe was overthrown following an intense resistance that claimed the lives of over two hundred and fifty thousand people in Liberia. The country remained in a state of chaos with factional leaders laying claim to every facet of land that make up the Liberian Republic. As a direct consequence of the civil strife that filled the void of authority, more than seventy-five percent of the Liberian population was either displaced internally or within the sub-region of West Africa.
The period that characterized the transition from war to peace and stability in Liberia unearthed a number of hidden phenomena. Taylor's intransigence to peace gave birth to a number of warring factions all of which demonstrated a desperation for power, which magnitude can be measured by the massive human and property loss sustained by the people of Liberia. Long before entering the capital, Monrovia, Taylor had himself crowned President. In order to preserve his crown, Taylor was prepared to preside over Liberian corpses than cease the persecution of the war and await elections.
On July 15, 1997, Liberians who had nowhere to escape decided between Taylor's ambition and their lives. They made a conscious decision to give-in to Taylor's ambition in order that their lives may be spared. At the end of the day, Liberians elected Charles G. Taylor President of Liberia. This action was a humane calculation aimed at cutting the losses of all Liberians.
In a nation where people are disillusioned and traumatized by war, they will jump and embrace the angel they had never seen even at the peril of their life. Liberia did just that. In the West African Sub-region, countries that were hosting Liberian refugees and those providing troops to the West African Peace Monitoring Force, ECOMOG, observed our move as one that would ease the burden on their fragile economies. The International community, on the other hand embraced the result of our elections, and termed it as a Liberian success for reunification and reconstruction.
Given the massive support for our resolve to deliver on Taylor's ambitions as a necessary pre-condition for the preservation of life in Liberia, the comity of nations was left with the belief that Liberia was back on track and ready to once again assume the mantle of enlightenment for democratic pluralism and empowerment in Africa.
Since we stepped out of our slumber believing that all was well, the practice of "JUNGLE DEMOCRACY" - a system in which might makes right, is the modus a operandi for civil administration under Taylor. The tyranny of Taylor and his cronies in the governance of Liberia is so vivid that one does not need to use a binocular to capture the full effect of its magnitude on the country. Individual and civil liberties have been trampled on. The interest and welfare of those who govern is put first, and at worst the interest of the Liberian people who echo slogans like "you kill my pa, you kill my ma, I will vote for you" have yet to make it on Taylor's priority list. Corruption, mismanagement and misuse of public funds is rampant. Tax-exempted concession rights are handed out to foreign companies under dubious agreements. For example the Oriental Timber Company is pillaging the timber reserved of Liberia under the guise that it will build roads in the hinterlands of Liberia. But to the contrary, the forest is being cut without any implementation of a plan for reforestation to preserve the environment. It is the interest of these international pirates most of who bank rolled Taylor's killing machines of child soldiers and mercenaries that is placed second to none. It is their interest that President Taylor and his small band of hustlers are serving in Liberia, and not the Liberian people.
TAYLOR'S PLAN FOR CIVIL ADMINISTRATION IN LIBERIA
Since the advent of the Taylor's administration numerous calls have paraded the corridor of Liberia and the international community for the development of A PLAN OF CIVIL ADMINISTRATION FOR LIBERIA. The anxiety of Liberians in the American Diaspora was answered by the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition, which organized the ALL-LIBERIAN MEETING of Chicago, Illinois, under the leadership of the Reverend Jesse Jackson. The success of the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition effort culminated into the All-Liberian Conference of 1998 held at the Unity Conference Center in Virginia, Liberia. It must be noted here that since the Banjul Conference of 1990, which give birth to the Liberian Interim Government of National Unity, the Virginia all Liberia Conference convened one of the largest assembly of Liberians from different political and social persuasions.
In spite of the venue of the discussions, the quality of the resolution that emerged out of the Virginia - Liberia conference underscored Liberians uncompromising commitment to national reconciliation, social justice, national development and progress. The people of Liberia clearly defined the way in which they would wish to be governed. However, the masses of the Liberian people have endured more than two years waiting for an implementation that has yet to make it from words to deeds. Mr. Taylor is busy trying to establish a connection between the people's interest and his agenda. But, conventional wisdom is cleared. The best interpretation of what has become of the conference resolution can be vividly described as an economic waste and another failed public relation campaign. The hope of Liberians is still being held in abeyance.
It will interest you to delve into the psychic of the man, Taylor. The Virginia plan intended for Liberia absolutely conflicted with Taylor's agenda. Reconciliation in the view of Mr. Taylor means reconciling his obligation to external interest for bankrolling the terror that was rained on the Liberian people. The clash of interest between the Liberian people and the Taylor regime has obscured the historic achievements of the Virginia, All Liberian Conference. This clash is undesirably affecting the lives of Liberians. For example the rate of unemployment in country is raising daily. The Liberian Government, which is the single largest employer in the country, has been incapable of meeting salary arrears to its employees. The best it has done so far is to pay one-month salary for every other four months of work. Qualified and able body Liberians is forced into making begging an occupation, just to feed their families and send their children to school. Public services like water supply and electricity are in woeful need of reconstruction. The medical facilitates, including hospitals and clinics lack the basic supplies and equipment needed to treat even the most common illness, like headache. Liberian schools are graduating students that can neither read nor write. Obtaining the basic skills necessary for survival in Liberia is a total illusion.
In spite of the prevailing hardship and the wanton loss of properties sustained by nearly all Liberians, the Taylor Government has wage a war of eviction on property owners and petit businesses. For example, property owners in the Buzzi Quarter area were violently uprooted by President Taylor's special security forces without legal notices. This action makes the government insensitive to the human sufferings experienced by nearly all Liberians. It is symptomatic of the decomposition of national government of the Republic of Liberia, led by President Charles G. Taylor. When a government performs in such a callous manner, it is recklessly playing blind to the need for housing and shelter for people internally displaced.
Additionally, the rising rate of unemployment has undermined the capacities of the local citizenry to rehabilitate properties damaged during the civil war. The need for reconstructing the lives of Liberians remains but a fleeting illusion. Instead of redressing these hardships, the Taylor regime has demonstrated an inclination toward building all forms of security apparatus that will shield him and his cronies from the hardship and human sufferings he engineered against Liberians. Liberians must realize that their security is endangered by the lack of any safety net. The trigger-happy thugs that brandish U-Z's and AK-47's in the Liberian community are there to protect Taylor, not the Liberian people, while the government is there to shield itself from those it governed.
While the hardship persist, Taylor and his followers are immersed in the pump and pageantry of erecting new homes and displaying flashy luxury vehicles in a city where motorists and pedestrians compete for space and right-away. At worse in a country where access to the interior villages are impassable by roads.
The Taylor regime has treated the demands of the Liberian people for such basic social services as electricity and sanitary drinking water supply with hilarious reactions. In one of his many public comedies (so-called press conferences), President Taylor, who had promised the Liberian people a new Liberia, later declared that if anyone wanted power supply in his/her home, he/she will have to purchase a power generator. A remark of this sort emanating from a leader who promised everything just to steal away the vote of the people spells disaster for a country just out of war.
When the Taylor government reduces basic services that enhances the comfort and security of the Liberian people to a level that is less deserving of any significant importance, the government is forcing its people to believe that the provision of public services are not the business of government. When a government promises its people justice as in the case of General Benjamin Yeaten, President Taylor's chief of security, who was charged and never tried in the murder of Mr. Samuel Dokie and his family, that government is telling its people that the justice system is no longer blind folded or impartial. It is bad government to know that currently, General Yeaten is a freed man, roaming the streets of Monrovia with impunity, perhaps looking for his next victim. Guess who? It could be you, somebody you love or me.
When a government promises public information on issues of concern and fails to provide it as in the case of the autopsy report surrounding the mysterious death of the late Vice President of Liberia, Enoch Dogolea, that government has eroded public confidence in its ability to administer. When a government invites its citizens to return home, and in turn accord them a reception that make them feel like a threat to their own government, that government is playing politics and is engaged in scare tactics with the lives of its people. When a government reduces its people to by-standers who watch a privileged few parade the city of Monrovia showing off the spoils of their loot, that government is not connecting with its people. It has lost their support and is now on its own.
When a government surrenders the resources of a country to foreign concessions who pillage the resources and pay no taxes under the guise that the concession will construct roads in the country, that government is not concern about the future of the country and its children. That government is lawless and indifferent to any significant development and reconstruction effort. When a government can only afford to pay its employees a month's salary after six months of work, that government is fiscally and monetarily incompetent.
When a sitting government presides over the massive exodus of its people from the country, in the face of a heavily government sponsored "back to Liberia crusade", that government is deceptive, despotic and only waving fear in the faces of returnees and residents.
When the Executive Branch of the Liberian government tries to run the country alone, usurping the powers of the other two branches of government, the Judiciary and Legislature, that government has absconded people's power. It is lawless and undemocratic. This style of governance is in sharp contrast to the principle of democracy, which allows for a government for the people, of the people and by the people.
When Liberians at home and abroad demonstrate preference for permanent residential status in the United States and other parts of the world above returning home, it renders the election of 1997 as a hopeless exercise that has yet to bring closure to the institution of fear erected by the Taylor government.
When a government behaves so irresponsibly, it is in essence giving birth and reason to the rise of dissident forces in the country, such as the Liberian United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), and many more to come if Taylor continues with business as usual.
We have come to inform the international community and remind ourselves here and at home that the Taylor led NPP government is not the best recipe for reconciliation, peace, stability and progress in Liberia.
Once a beacon of hope for all people of color, that experiment has been proven wrong. Liberia is no longer that place of refuge or that symbol of Black liberation. We have surrendered our power into the hands of a kleptomaniac who reminds us of Cambodia under Pol Pot. The question of where we go from here as a people rest with Liberians. As for us Liberians residing in Minnesota, the Taylor Government has lost our confidence and trust.
Issued by Concerned Liberians in Minnesota on the state of affairs in Liberia on Saturday, September 30th, 2000, Capitol Square, Saint Paul, Minnesota.