Liberia Needs Trusteeship Not Interim Government

By Joe Flomo Matthew

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

July 18, 2003

For one hundred and fifty six years, history has shown that Liberians lacked fundamental aptitude of good governance. Good governance based on the rule of law, and the basic notion that a leader is a servant of the people not their master. We have failed ourselves miserably, therefore should not squandered another opportunity by putting together another quick fix interim government which will not stand the test of time. Our history in this arena has been nothing but dismal. In the 1990's, we went through litany of interim governments lead by Sawyer, Kpomakpor, Sankawolo, Ruth Perry, and another one headed by Chief Tamba Taylor, in which each warlord considered himself President. The statuses of today's events in Liberia are consequences of those charades. We cannot afford such this time around. With these in minds, I propose the creation of an International Trusteeship Administration for Liberia.

Now, hold your fire you so-called nationalist. I know, as you read this article, many of you want to attack my position. Some of you will very well do just that. I welcome that as such will only open healthy debates for the future of our country. However, before you do, let me ask you this question: Who do you think could effectively lead an interim government in Liberia under the prevailing circumstances? I do not see one that can unite our fragile country. The problem is that almost all Liberians vying for political leadership today are stained with something heinous. As such, they do not trust one another, and the people do not trust them. They need time to reclaim themselves from the yoke of their misdeeds. They need time to rise above personal glorification and aggrandizement.

It is clear to me that Liberia is not ready for self-determination. Liberia has the human and intellectual capacities, but lacks individuals with the political wills to make tough political decisions in the service of the people. History shows that Liberians who ascend to positions in government tend to be the institutions such positions represent. For example, the institution of the Presidency in Liberia is an individual. He/she is above the law. He/she decides who lives and who dies. You know and I know these are fundamentally flawed. Therefore, selecting an interim government at this time in our history is a recipe for disaster. We are just not ready for the task of good governance.

Accordingly, it is my firm belief that Liberia needs an International Trusteeship Administration under the auspices of the United Nation. An American with Archbishop Michael Francis as principle deputy should head it. Liberians who are members of rebel groups, the Taylor’s administration, and those who participated in genocide against the Liberian people should be barred from serving in this administration. Ministers and Agency heads should be selected carefully to exclude any or supporters of the above.

Now, I do not want anyone fussing about Liberia’s sovereign rights, nor do I want to hear about the United States meddling in our internal affairs. As of today’s date, I have not heard any Liberian calling on Britain, Canada, Russia, France, Germany, Japan, or China or anyone else for that matter to come to our aid. All I have heard from Liberians are appeals to the United States to come to our rescue, and for good reasons. Like it or not, the United States is the only country on earth that can make a difference in Liberia. It is only appropriate to select one of them to rule our country during these turbulent times. Accordingly, here are my proposals for an International Trusteeship Administration for Liberia:

1. The International Trusteeship Administration of Liberia should administer the affairs of Liberia for a period of five years beginning immediately. During the five year period, it should do the following:

a. Establish a truth commission to allow those who committed crimes against humanity to come forward and apologize to the victims and the Liberian people. The commission should have prosecutorial power to arrest and detain perpetrators who refuse to honor appearance before it.

b. Re-write our constitution to reflect the reality of our time.
c. Establish governmental institutions so that government position cannot be associated with individuals, but with genuine functioning institutions.

d. Establish codes of conduct for public servants, to guard against the idea of one being above the law.

e. Establish rules and regulations for genuine private sector economy. All public corporations privatized to discourage allegiances to government officials.

f. Establish clear and concise rules and regulations to ensure that any appointment by the President such as ministers, superintendents, judges, and the like are carefully scrutinized and approved by the Senate without intimidations from the president or any government official in the new republic.

g. Establish a national financial institution with clear authority to make monetary and financial decisions without interference of the president or any government official.

h. Organize and conduct seminars to train prospective politicians in the art of good governance and the pursuit and preservation of democracy.

i. Re-structure the military and security agencies into professional organizations to truly defend the nation and its people, and not terrorize them.

j. Organize free and fair election in its fifth year, ensuring that every political party (no matter the number) has equal access to the media, territory, and other outlets necessary to provide even playing field.

2. The international community should provide conducive environment for the International Trusteeship Administration to do its work effectively. This should be done by deploying an international peace keeping force to maintain law and order. This force should be given clear mandates, which should include the arrest and detention of anyone who might try to disrupt the peace process. Such person should be turned over to the International Trusteeship Administration for prosecution.

This is not to suggest that the above are the only ideas for the International Trusteeship Administration of Liberia to implement. More could and should be added if needed.

My fellow Liberians, I believe this concept will give Liberians breathing room to sit back and reflect on the atrocities they have committed against themselves. The five-year period will be a time of healing and reconciliation. The memories of the atrocities are still vivid in the minds of many, if not all Liberians. An International Trusteeship Administration will be a way for Liberians to turn the page from a period that will live in infamy. It will be a cooling off period. We tried the Interim Government scenario in the 1990?s and it failed miserably. It is time to try something different. An International Trusteeship Administration is the way out.