THOUSANDS OF LIBERIAN FAMILIES are still lingering in pain due to the many relatives, loved ones and friends they lost to the hands of warlord Prince Johnson and his Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia.
THE LIST IS ENDLESS, and some very good and talented people: Fred Blay, former minister of Labor in Samuel Doe’s government, Larry Borteh, a former member of the People’s Redemption Council, Michael Doe, a former employee of Hotel Africa, who, according to eyewitnesses, was thrown from a high upper floor to the ground at the hotel.
ERIC SCOTT, A FORMER Liberian Diplomat at the Liberian embassy in Washington and husband of Mrs. Debbie Scott, the proprietor of the School of Prime System (SPS), Tilma Momolue Gardiner, former Senior Security officer for President William V.S. Tubman and Acting Director of Police during the Administration of William Tolbert.
THE LIST OF MR. JOHNSON’S victims also include musical icons, Tecumseh Roberts, Gedeh Rooster and Robert Toe.
THESE ARE JUST A FEW of the ones recalled in the presence of eyewitnesses.
WITH BARELY twenty days to the October 10 Presidential elections, Mr. Johnson, a member of the Liberian Senate, continues to rain insults on families of civil war victims with his daring audacity to throw tantrums and war rhetoric without any remorse for those slain at his hands.
ADDRESSING A NEWS conference this week, Mr. Johnson, who happens to be a prominent ally of former Vice President Joseph Boakai from the Unity Party, raised concerns about potential election interference by the ruling establishment and has threatened to fight back with arms in the cause of the people. In a press conference held on Monday, the Nimba County Senator, sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Treasury for ‘Pay for Play’ and corruption, says the impressive turnout exhibited during the launch of the Unity Party campaign is an indication of the people’s resolve to remove President George Weah from power.
SAID MR. JOHNSON: “Before the October elections, Liberians are coming out under the banner ‘Don’t Try It’ – any attempt, the people’s power would be exercised like the Arab Spring. You’ll shoot your gun; you’ll kill us, or you’ll die. No more fear, Liberians don’t be afraid anymore.”
THE FIRST Arab Spring was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Arab world in the early 2010s. It began in Tunisia in response to corruption and economic stagnation.
IRONICALLY, Senator Johnson’s statement re-echoes Mr. Boakai’s emphatic declaration of his preparedness to resist rigging of the October 10 elections. He made the statement in his message during the launch of his campaign on Sunday.
MR. BOAKAI HAS SAID THAT he is ready to work with international prosecutors to expose and arrest those who would foster electoral violence and derail our hard-won peace.
MR. BOAKAI also took some solace in the recent statement made by the United States government regarding safeguarding the integrity of these elections. He said, “While we welcome the imposition of sanctions on those who would attempt to thwart the will of the Liberian people, we call on ECOWAS, the United States, the European Union, the African Union, and organizations such as the International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES) to fully, thoroughly, and actively engage the process now to avert any threat that will undermine these elections by acknowledging and understanding the significance of identifying and combating any attempts to undermine this fundamental aspect of our society.”
WHILE IT IS TRUE THAT NO one wants to see any rigging of the upcoming elections, Prince Johnson is the last person any Liberian wants to hear not only advocating for it; but pushing the line of violence in the process.
THE UNITY PARTY AND former Vice President Boakai must disassociate itself from Mr. Johnson’s war rhetoric under the guise raising alarm on alleged vote rigging in the upcoming elections.
MR. BOAKAI is also under fire over his choice of Jeremiah Koung, an ally to the former warlord, as his vice-presidential pick. Koung is also a member of Johnson’s political party – the Movement for Democratic Reconstruction (MDR).
MR. BOAKAI AND THE UNITY PARTY owes it to Liberia and Liberians to remove itself from any rhetoric of Mr. Johnson advocating for violence and war.
THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS that during the civil war, Mr. Johnson was notorious for killing anyone who opposed or criticized his actions. When Hare Krishna devotees, who were distributing food to starving people in Monrovia during the chaos of the civil war, sent him a letter begging him to stop killing people, he personally orchestrated the murder of Hladini devi dasi—born Linda Jury—and five of her students on the bank of the Saint Paul River on the night of Thursday, 13 September 1990.
ON SEPTEMBER 9, 1990, Johnson’s supporters abducted President Samuel Doe from ECOMOG headquarters in the Monrovia port district. Doe was tortured and executed in Johnson’s custody on 9 September, with the spectacle videotaped and broadcast around the world. The video showed Johnson sipping a Budweiser beer and being fanned by an assistant as his men cut off Doe’s ear.
NO LIBERIAN SHOULD wish for war – or even tolerate anyone advocating for it. The best anyone can hope for is a peaceful, credible, free, and transparent elections that will continue Liberia’s post-war record of successive transfer of power from one government to the next, without vote rigging – or violence.