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Liberia:Human Rights Activist Slams Opposition Party for Disassociating Itself From Protest

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Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine and Mr. Franklin Siakor are respected statesmen. They have followings in and outside of Liberia for good records in public service. They have also been unwavering on critical national issues.  It would be hard to find a reasonable Liberian who would expect that the political party whose standards they bear would stand sharply against the interest of the Liberian people and encourage a corrupt regime to perpetuate itself in power at the detriment of the Liberian people.

But such was the case with the recent pronouncement of the Liberty Party (LP) Chairman, Cllr. Fonati Kofa, who happens to be an active business partner and political confidante of Mrs. Medina Wesseh – a Liberian who has been accused by national and international reports of using her office and position in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government to arrange and enter into questionable business contracts to the detriment of the Liberian nation and people. The Private Use Permit scandal in the forestry industry, the Dunn Commission Report and the NASSCORP audit are few examples of scandals involving the former Senior Advisor to the President and Director General of the Cabinet.
In a recent press conference held, the Liberty Party Chairman, speaking on behalf of the Liberty Party dismissed, as unconstitutional, calls by many Liberians for the resignation of the leader of Liberia’s corrupt enterprise, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.  Kofa said: “We do not support the interruption of President Sirleaf’s term because there has been no constitutional reason compelling enough, for us to call for that and we are not prepared to do so”.
“We set up a constitutional structure to ensure how our governments change. Every six years, we will have elections in which our people have the ability; the opportunity to decide to change their government and no one individual can occupy more than two terms. That’s the constitutional system we set up, so that the government continues to be accountable to the people.
“Look at the American democracy today, I look at President Obama’s approval ratings, from the American people, it is at 43%. 43% of the American people, says Obama is doing a good job; so I say to myself; ‘where is the Obama Step Down campaign?’ because I can almost bet if you run the same thing here, Madam President will be hovering at 43%.”
By this position, the Liberty Party Chairman seeks to impress upon the Liberian people that the only constitutional means to remove a sitting president accused of aiding, abetting and condoning corruption is to wait for the next election. He is wrong because Article 63 (B) of the 1986 Constitution says that a presidency can become vacant by reasons of (1) death, (2) resignation, (3) impeachment and (4) incapacitation. And public corruption is an impeachable offense. It seems obvious Cllr. Koffa did not consider these Constitutional provisions before he made these statements.
Further, by his position, the Liberty Party Chairman further implies that those who have called for the resignation of Presidents are wrong because like Obama, Sirleaf’s approval rating is low, missing the issue that Liberians are not discussing approval ratings of the President. Instead Liberians are demanding a change because of high-level corruption, impunity and nepotism. In Cllr. Kofa’s reasoning. D. Tweh was wrong for calling for the resignation of Tubman. MOJA and PAL were wrong for calling for the resignation of Tolbert. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was wrong for calling for the resignation of Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor. Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe was wrong for calling for the resignation of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The Liberty Party Chairman suggests that corruption and widespread theft of public resources are not compelling constitutional reasons for peaceful citizens to call for the peaceful resignation of a President presiding over a corrupt state. But Cllr. Koffa has not been able to extend similar line of argument that corruption and theft of public resources were not compelling constitutional reasons for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her cohorts to violently cause the downfall of two democratically elected presidents – Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor. He rightly stated that the constitution demands that the government MUST be accountable to the people. But he failed to mention whether or not the government of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is accountable to the people of Liberia.
The Liberty Party Chairman rightly claims that the constitution provides for a change of government every six years. I agree! But the same constitution also frowns on corruption, mismanagement of public resources and nepotism. Further the constitution clearly declared, as impeachable offenses, official conduct which violates those constitutional provisions. Corruption is an unpardonable official conduct.  Article 43 of the Constitution vests the power to prepare bill of impeachment in the House of Representative, and the power to try all impeachment in the Senate.

 
But the Liberian legislature (Representatives and Senators) have, by omission, condoned, encouraged, sanctioned, supported, aided and abetted corruption and the theft of public resources in Liberia by the Executive Branch. Senator Ballout of Maryland recently indicted the Legislature for aiding and abetting corruption by their inaction. The Judiciary is said not to be independent and is marred by corruption. So where should the people turn to correct the ills of their society. Take heed to the words of former US President John F. Kennedy: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution possible.” How would the Liberty Party Chairman respond to President John F. Kennedy?
The Liberty Party Chairman introduced another hastily convoluted and loosely organized analogy. He erroneously introduced President Obama 43% approval rating in the US to prove that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is also capable of accruing similar 43% approval rating in Liberia. By his logic he claims that since Americans are not calling for President Obama’s resignation based on a low 43% approval rating, Liberians should not call for President Sirleaf’s resignation. Aye yaaaa! This sounds like a victim of political phantasmagoria.
The situations in the US and Liberia are quite different. In the US, Americans are unhappy with the slow pace in job creation, Obama’s decision to go to war in Syria, and citizens’ frustration over the constant crisis in Washington over Obamacare, Immigration Reform and Gun Reform – hence the 43% low rating. In Liberia, Liberians are frustrated that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has generated US$2.01 billion dollars and has not accounted for it. Liberians are disappointed that over seventy-five audit reports have implicated Sirleaf’s officials in theft of public resources and she continues to put her neck on the line for them.
Liberians are frustrated because Sirleaf’s son Robert Sirleaf received and singularly spent US$10.5 million of the country money from Chevron and he continues to go with impunity because his mom is president. Liberians are disappointed because nearly all concession agreements signed by President since 2009 were irregular and illegal, amounting to $8 billion in fraudulent concessions. Liberians are disappointed because President Sirleaf is using public resources to pay her inner circle member $10 – $20 thousand dollars per month while civil servants are paid $125 one hundred and twenty five dollars per months. Liberians are frustrated that their country was ranked “the most corrupt country,” the second poorest and the third miserable place to live on this earth. Liberians are frustrated that even the Defense Minister has accused the President of knowingly harboring corrupt officials in her Government.
Comparing President Obama and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is comparing Apostles Peter and Judas. The conditions and their actions are not the same. President Obama is trying to fix a broken health system and get the economy back on its feet. President Sirleaf is allowing stealing and all forms of corruption in Liberia to go unabated.
The Liberty Party Chairman needs to understand that it is easy to quietly benefit from the spoils of a corrupt system and pretend to be an opposition politician. But it is quite hard to remain aloof the temptation of stealing public wealth, and remain in a courageous minority calling for the demise of a corrupt system. This is the difference between Liberty Party Chairman Koffa and some of us.
Liberty Party needs to define itself and declare where it stands on critical national issues. Liberians will not condone elements of opposition political parties who continue to build corporate alliances with corrupt ruling elites in a game of orchestrated pretenses like caricatures, pretending to be legitimate representative of the aspirations of the suffering Liberian masses. Liberians cannot understand why and how the Chairman of the Liberty Party is in business marriage with the corrupt ruling party while at the same time its Senior Policy Advisor was singled out and provided a scholarship by NOCAL.
The Senior Policy Advisor abandoned the Liberty Party and joined the campaign of the Unity Party. And now he is back, pretending to be an opposition. When Unity Party Chairman, Varney Sherman, cried foul about NOCAL awarding a scholarship for undergraduate studies when all the scholarships at the time were for graduate studies, the Liberty Party’s Senior Advisor, lashed out at the Unity Party Chairman.  Liberty Party has to make a decision: They are either for the corrupt administration or they are with the Liberian people, who are struggling daily to make a living in an environment agreeably characterized by high level corruption, nepotism, impunity and patronage.
But we understand Liberty Party Chairman Koffa’s line of politicking. His business and economic interest comes first. The International Law Group, owned by him in partnership with Mrs. Medina Wesseh – insider and associate of President Sirleaf’s covert business deals, must survive and benefit from the spoils of loot, albeit at the expense of the Liberian people.
Finally, let me conclude that it is within the nature of modern popular democratic politics for citizens to peacefully call for the resignation of presidents, when their welfare and interests are not protected. For examples, some citizens are currently calling for the resignation of President Obama and planning a massive demonstration in Washington on November 19[1]; Egyptians demanded the resignation of their elected president[2] ; Citizens of Spain demanded their Prime Minister resignation[3]; Bahrainis demanded the resignation of their prime minister[4]; Tunisians demanded the resignation of their government[5]. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf demanding the resignation of Samuel K. Doe and Charles Taylor, both duly elected by the Liberian people, although like Sirleaf’s in 2005 and 2011, in controversy.

The big question is whether Liberty Party can redeem itself under the leadership of Chairman Kofa, or Liberty Party has extended it reach far out that it is now entangled in the corruption web.

 
J. Aloysius Toe, Acting Executive Director, (LIPI)

– See more at: http://frontpageafricaonline.com/op-ed-editorial/feature-articles/7201-liberty-party-condones-corruption-in-liberia-camouflages-classical-opportunism-under-opposition-politics.html#sthash.LDrEflol.dpuf

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