Thriving on Deception, Harassment and Intimidation
A Position Statement by the Liberian Democratic Future (LDF), Inc.
Posted August 9, 2002
On July 19, 1997, the Liberian people went to the polls in a special elections sponsored by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and elected Charles Taylor, the ruthless warlord who threatened prior to the elections to return to guerilla warfare if he was not elected. It is still unclear if the people elected Taylor over three other warlords and scores of civilian politicians out of fear of a continuing warfare as Taylor had threatened, or out of genuine desire to bring complete end to the seven-year devastating civil war that reduced the Liberian nation to rubbles and created abysmal living conditions for the people.
But whatever factors led to the people's decision to elect Charles Taylor over other warlords and civilian Liberian politicians, it was apparent that the Liberian people were tired of the mass destructions and killings pervasive during the civil war and wanted to put the war years behind them and begin rebuilding in earnest a new Liberian nation where peace, unity, reconciliation, equal rights, justice, democracy, and equal opportunities would prevail for all irrespective of class or social status.
Even Taylor at the time recognized the enormity of the new responsibilities thrust upon him as elected president of a war-weary nation groping for new direction and peace and stability. He declared in part in his inaugural speech, " ...We also give credence to the glaring recognition of their (Liberian people) having discharged one of the most important civic and national undertakings- the sacred duty of contracting with a new leadership by way of the ballot box. I jubilate in recognizing that this act of civic responsibility demonstrates the presence of national canopy, which embodies conducive elements for a restructured society."
But today in Liberia, "elements for a restructured society" are seriously lacking and somehow bordering on sheer fantasy as the country plunges farther and farther into miseries. The citizenry is burdened with uncertainties and insecurity occasioned by fundamental human, civil, and constitutional rights violations, institutionalized corruption, daily harassment and intimidation of civilians, a lingering state of emergency, and misdirected "war on terrorism" -- the official misnomer for harassing and silencing political opposition figures and ordinary critics of the government.
Awaiting safe drinking water promised by Mr. Taylor
In view of the above, the Liberian Democratic Future (LDF) wishes to remind Mr. Taylor that the July 19, 1997 elections that brought him to power were based on dire and unusual circumstances, not on thoughtful progressive paradigms and proactive vision for the future. Liberians rather chose him out of the sheer will to survive with the hope that this would enable them to rebuild their shattered lives since it was obvious at the time that he would have continued the war if defeated. In other words, the Liberian people voted to give Mr. Taylor the benefit of the doubt, since he masterminded the seven-year civil war, promising to create the conditions for flourishing democracy in Liberia, stamp out corruption and to rebuild the ruinous nation wherein all Liberians will be proud. But Taylor has led Liberia downhill in five years so much so that Liberians have begun to question the wisdom of electing him or his rationale for the devastating civil war he waged against the nation as they slip further into international outcast status.
Furthermore, it is common knowledge in Liberia today that the Taylor government thrives on deception, harassment and intimidation. The government continues to lie and deceive the Liberian people for all kinds of reasons with the primary goal of holding onto power. The Taylor regime also engages in all sorts of illegal practices under the umbrella of the State of Emergency imposed February 2002 in the wake of the government's professed desire to contain dissident activities and military challenge in Northern Liberia by the dissident Liberians United for Democracy and Reconciliation (LURD).
But the Liberian people are not stupid. They are fully aware of the fact that Taylor and his gang have broken every single cardinal rule of humanity. They lie. They cheat. They kill. They commit fraud/embezzlement. They steal. Moreover, Taylor, as professed member of the traditional Liberian Poro Society, continues to make mockery of the teachings of the sacred institutions as regards honesty, respect for human life, the elderly, the environment, and commitment to peaceful co-existence of community and development.
Afraid that if free, fair and transparent elections are held he will be soundly defeated, Mr. Taylor has done what most dictators do when they lost the support of their citizens: they put in place draconian decrees, suffocate civil liberties and engage in a campaign of harassment, intimidation and torture. As man predisposed to totalitarian tendencies, Taylor has demonstrated his dislike democracy by his continuing tactic of intimidating opposition politicians to make them flee the country. Under the guise of the state of emergency, he has become absolute ruler who serves as a judge and executioner at the same time.
It was in this regard that he ordered the illegal search of the home of Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh. A veteran progressive politician who came to prominence in the 1970s, Tipoteh has elected to stay in the country despite the enormous risk this poses to personal safety, and Taylor is perplexed and uneasy about it. We believe he has decided to target Tipoteh as his next prey.
Now as before, Taylor and his cohorts are determined to use any tricks in the book to hold unto power. But the Liberian people have equally shown resolve throughout the course of their present predicament by their resilience to withstand the ruthless regime and fight for social justice, freedom, equality, fair treatment and the rule of law. And for this determination, we salute the Liberian people who have risked their lives to challenge the maniacal tyrant.
The year 2003 is about a choice. We must choose between Liberia and Taylor. The two are not the same. Those who support him should know that the country is different from Mr. Taylor or any individual for that matter. Liberia needs to make progress and it can't do so with the kind of failed and sterile leadership that Taylor has provided. He has had his chance and he has failed dismally. Liberians must together evaluate if giving Taylor the "benefit of doubt" in 1997 was a mistake or wise choice, and resolve this time around we will choose a leader who has the will to make a positive difference in their lives of his people, not one consumed by greed, wickedness and corruption.
Issued in the supreme interest of the Liberian people, on this 8th day of August 2002, in the City of Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor
Chairman, Liberian Democratic Future (LDF)