In Response to Tim Siklo

By Abdoulaye W. Dukule

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

April 15, 2002

I read with great interest Mr. Tim Siklo's piece posted on The Liberian Connection website where he mentioned a story I wrote about Liberian political leaders. I was surprised that Mr. Siklo, in his attempt to portray himself as a supporter and partisan of Dr. Tipoteh, decided to use my article to discuss the viability of our political options. I would not engage in a debate about the tangibility or intangibility of his conclusions regarding the Abuja meeting or the elections and the next 22 rounds of tricks by Mr. Charles Taylor. Indeed, Mr. Siklo and I had a "private chat" but all I did was repeat to him something I had heard from another friend [also see March 14th issue of The Inquirer]. Mr. Siklo's reaction was that I, as a writer and a "politician" "should have known better." He went on and on, trying to tell me what I should have said to that person.

My response to Mr. Siklo was that I was merely repeating something I had heard and therefore there was no need to "beat the messenger." I suggested to him that the person may be right or wrong but that the perception was out there in Monrovia. I also added that as a partisan of LPP, he should be concerned about rectifying the perceptions if he thinks they are wrong and I thought I was doing him a favor by being candid. As far as who is the best candidate or who is not, I leave the choice to the voters. I don't believe in entitlement.

When I mentioned in my article that I had a discussion with a friend about what Dr. Tipoteh claimed to have done in the peace process, Mr. Siklo jumped to the conclusion that I was referring to the conversation he and I had. No, I was not. I was home, in Monrovia, when LPP was created in the 1980s. I have worked with many members of LPP, from the University to IGNU, long before I met Mr. Siklo at the embassy in the 1990s. My circle of political friends, and especially those who know Dr. Tipoteh is much wider than Mr. Siklo can imagine. I have known some LPP members long before LPP was born. An essential point in my article was about Dr. Tipoteh's claim to have disarmed former combatants and I never discussed this with Mr. Siklo. I was in Monrovia at the time and was very much involved in the peace process. My second point in the article was the need to restructure LPP after the 1997 chaos, which resulted in expulsions and departures of some members. This is an issue Dr. Tipoteh himself addressed when I interviewed him a few months ago for The Perspective, there was no need for me to discuss this with Mr. Siklo.

Mr. Siklo is right when he demands that Liberians be frank when discussing national politics. I said it before Abuja and I repeat it now, going to Abuja was a political fiasco. In fact I had written to some of the political leaders, including Dr. Tipoteh and gave my reasoning, which incidentally are now re-enforced by the letter Dr. Cletus Wotorson wrote to the ECOWAS Executive Secretary and published on The Perspective website. Of course, there is always something good about any meeting, even if it is a fiasco. Once politicians meet, they can always come up out with a piece of paper. I have attended some 35 peace meetings during the peace process, from Yamoussoukro to the last Abuja. Through sleepless nights of negotiations and bad hotel food, I earned lot of experience and gray hair and I know a few things about President Taylor's style of negotiations. It was not an accident that a meeting political leaders have been seeking for months just happened to be scheduled in a matter of days, after the Summit in Rabat and the arrival of a new Executive Secretary at ECOWAS.

The last Abuja meeting will not advance the peace process one iota from where it is now. Can anyone point to one thing from that meeting that is today being seriously given consideration either by the government, ECOWAS or even the politicians who put the document together? We are back where we were before. What is happening now that is different from a few months ago?

Finally, regarding those issues Mr. Siklo thought he and I discussed, I have forwarded to my editor at The Perspective copies of emails I received from Monrovia. I didn't make up anything about Dr. Tipoteh. The issues I discussed in my article were not the subject of my conversation with Mr. Siklo, I have very credible sources in Monrovia. We all have the country at heart, but we are not all partisans. Mr. Siklo and I talk on phone very frequently and have had a constant political dialogue since our days at the embassy. I could have clarified all this had he raised any concern during any of our many conversations. But then again, this is Liberian politics.

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