Last week, the Liberian government arrested a former general, the speaker of the former National Transitional Legislative Assembly and others for plotting to overthrow the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Now the man who might have blown the whistle on the alleged plotters has been giving details of the plot.
Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu is a former defense minister in Charles Taylor’s rebel National Patriot Front of Liberia movement. He made the revelations in a memorandum to Liberia’s Justice Minister Frances Johnson-Morris, the U.N. Mission in Liberia, and the State Department. In the memorandum, entitled: “A Plot to Overthrow the Liberian Government by Force of Arms”, Woewiyu revealed the plot details in email communications between him and George Koukou, the speaker of the former National Transitional Legislative Assembly of Liberia.
Woewiyu explains to VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty how he came to the conclusion that this was a plot to overthrow President Sirleaf.
“The content of the email that was sent to me depicts that the name “Delilah” is Mrs. Sirleaf’s code name in the National Patriotic Front (Charles Taylor’s former rebel movement). During the war, everyone had their name, their code names, and that was her name, Delilah,” Woewiyu said.
According to Woewiyu, both he and Koukou were senior commanders in Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel movement. They also served together in the former Transitional National Legislative Assembly.
In September 2005, a month before Liberia’s historic election, Woewiyu wrote an “open letter” to then candidate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in which he detailed what he said was her involvement in the founding of Charles Taylor’s NPFL rebel movement and the prosecution of its 14-year-old civil war.
Yet Woewiyu said that Koukou and the other alleged coup plotters were mistaken if they thought that he was an enemy of President Sirleaf.
“As far as I’m concerned, I see Mrs. Sirleaf’s government from a civil point of view. She is the president; she has been elected, and I honor that particular responsibility to support it, and not from the point of view or through the barrel of a gun. So, if Mr. Koukou thought that way, then he is mistaken,” he said.
In Koukou’s alleged email of June 29, 2007, he asked Woewiyu to provide information about the whereabouts of “farming tools or implements” that Koukou said Woewiyu knew were hidden somewhere in Gbarnga, central Liberia, Charles Taylor’s former rebel headquarters. But Woewiyu said he knew nothing about hidden weapons in Gbarnga.
“First of all, Koukou, when I read that part of his communication, I thought that there was something not really true because Koukou knows that I left Gbarnga in 1994 after breaking up with Charles Taylor over the continuation of the war. So where did Koukou get the idea that there were weapons buried in Gbarnga that I should know about? At one point I started to think that may be this is a government set up. May be this man is trying to extract information from for somebody trying to frame me in the government,” he said.
In one of Koukou’s alleged emails of June 23, 2007, he said Liberians and foreign partners were becoming disgruntled and would support President Sirleaf’s overthrow because of her failure to meet expectations.
While agreeing that President Sirleaf has not met some of her campaign promises, Woewiyu said however that this did not justify an overthrow of her government.
“The truth is there are a lot of information coming out of Liberia that the government is not doing well, corruption and all those things. But we need time. Mrs. Sirleaf is not working out of a bank of her own, and I’m not supporting her. She may have made the indication to the Liberian people that once she got elected gold was going to float in the streets of Monrovia, pipe-born water was going to come, light was going to come. None of this has come. That is a failure that we can deal with within the political realm. We don’t have to go to war; we don’t have to kill each other. And what Liberians must understand is that 250,000 Liberians lost their lives trying to get rid of the last dictator,” he said.
Woewiyu said he did not want to be considered a hero for blowing the whistle on the alleged coup plotters.
“I am not a hero; I’m not looking for any favors from the Ellen Sirleaf government. I have not even heard from the government since this information was sent forward. But I feel that I have the responsibility as a senior citizen of this country, a former government official. I was minister labor, President Pro Temp of the Liberian senator. It is incumbent upon me to make sure that the peace that we fought for becomes an everlasting phenomena of our nation. That’s my whole motivation,” Woewiyu said.