Liberia: Mixed Emotions Swirl In Mandingo Community Amid Appointment of Ja’neh’s Replacement

Judge Yussif D. Kaba

Monrovia – The prediction was never inaccurate and the appointment was just timely. For some, it’s a “tactical” political appointment but for others, this has the making of “divisiveness”.

The appointment of Judge Yussif D. Kaba to the Supreme Court bench on Monday came with bitter-sweet emotions for members of his Mandingo tribe but at the same time, it gives President George Weah some grip on the community.

The Mandingo ethnic group, like many Liberians opposing the impeachment of now-former Associate Justice Kabinah Ja’neh, termed the process as “unconstitutional”. They saw it as an attack against their ethnic group.

Many had pointed accusing fingers at President Weah for masterminding the removal of one of their most influential kinsmen. They claimed that his trial was controversial and very political, generating deferring views and creating bad blood.

Judge Kaba’s appointment has generated another discourse perceptible to subjectivity depending on which side of the argument you are.

One Facebook user slammed the government for being “not strategic at all” after news of the appointment, which was announced less than three days after the end of the impeachment proceeding, went viral.

“It took the President only the weekend to come up with names and do vetting for a very critical position like a Supreme Court Justice and yet, they want us to believe that the President did not bankroll Ja’neh’s impeachment,” writes TrencyPaul Lamin.

However, Sekou Kolleh, president of the Madingo Caucus of Liberia, described the appointment as “a good political decision.”

“If this slot was filled by a none-Mandingo it would have sent a negative image to the world that we the Madingo people have done something wrong,” Kolleh told FrontPageAfrica, while promising to extend congratulations to the newly appointed Justice on his preferment.

“Replacing Ja’neh is a good political decision; it sends a message which borders on the perception amongst the Mandingo community that the community was under attack from the government.”

Kolleh’s take on the appointment when FPA phoned him late Monday evening was impromptu, but it sends a message.

Like him, many observers averred that the appointment intends to appease the Mandingos. And as Mr. Kolleh puts it, “naming another person of the tribe consoles us”.

Meanwhile, National Muslims Women Caucus of Liberia (NAMUWCA) wasted no time to laud President Weah for the appointment.

“The National Muslims Women Caucus of Liberia would like to extend her profound gratitude to the President H.E Dr. George M. Weah and government of the Republic of Liberia in this public manner, may the Almighty Allah richly bless our President and protect the state and people of the Republic of Liberia,” said Mawatta Toure, Chairperson of the group.

‘Betrayal From Within’

Fresh from losing one of their sons from the country’s highest court in a more derogatory manner, the community seems inflicted and probably in disarray over a decision to support the new appointment.  

Sowani Bility, a prominent Mandingo in the US, blames Judge Kaba and says he should have been his “brother’s keeper”.

“I understand that this was a politically driven trial based on witch hunt, but Judge Kaba should have advanced some ideas as to how he could help his brother during times of troubles, especially when he was unjustifiably prosecuted for a decision that he signed with other Justices,” Bility said.

Bility alleges that Kaba “wanted the position” so he “sat and did nothing” since the impeachment proceeding was a ploy.

“It was a foregone conclusion.  It means that they’ve talked about it. In fact, we heard before the trial that some of our kinsmen had gone to meet the President and asked him to replace Justice Ja’neh with “one of us” after the impeachment,” he said.

The opposing views are explicit and have the propensity of deepening a fresh crack within the tribe as Kaba comes under fire from some of his kinsmen.

“The backstabbing and backbiting just to ascend to power or to see another person down. The divide and rule strategy will always work as it’s now working because of the greed, jealousy, and anger of some among us. This has nothing to do with Justice Ja’neh, but the betrayal,” argues Bility.

Social Media Debate Heightens 

Meanwhile, some Liberians using Facebook to weigh-in on the issue have criticized the appointment of Judge Kaba, claiming that it doesn’t make up for the “unconstitutional” removal of his predecessor.

Musa-Mohamed F. Kouma-Deito Kromah says the “Appoint all Mandingo people on Supreme Court Bench, it will not prove you right. It has only intensified the arguments that the trial was a complete political coup d’état against the independence of the judiciary, and a complete disrespect to the constitution of the Republic.

“Mr. President, the appointment of Judge Yussif Kaba can’t justify the illegal removal of Justice Ja’neh. Why undermined the Democracy we struggled for? I see the reason why you are not getting much support from the International Community. Look at Sierra Leone how the government is been heavily supported,” added Musa Sackor.