The former chairman of Liberia’s last transitional government, Gyude Bryant says he will surrender to authorities Friday to answer charges of economic sabotage. A criminal court in the Liberian capital Monrovia Thursday ordered Bryant’s arrest and subsequent imprisonment for his failure to show up in court as was expected.
The government says Bryant, as transitional government chairman, cannot account for more than a million dollars. Bryant admits he authorized certain expenditures as transitional government chair, but he says such expenditures are protected by a special law. He accused the government of violating his constitutional rights.
Lawrence Bropleh is Liberia’s minister of information. He told VOA that former Chairman Bryant has been eluding arrest.
“Former Chairman Bryant, for some time now, has been charged with economic sabotage questioning his leadership at the time as chair of the transitional government from 2004 to 2006. The charge is that there is a $1.2 million that he cannot account for. And this case has been in the courts properly investigated. He fired his lawyers. And now he is claiming that the government is going after him in a wrong way, and that he’s done nothing wrong. He was supposed to have appeared in court he has not shown up. The government tried to serve the writ upon him to show up in court. He’s been very elusive, and so today the Criminal Court issued a writ of arrest for the former chairman. My understanding now is that Friday that he intends to turn himself in,” he said.
In a press statement Thursday, Bryant said the government was violating his constitutional rights. But Bropleh said Bryant has no immunity.
“When justice becomes discriminative, then justice looses its essence. Chairman Bryant is a citizen of Liberia, and every citizen be it a former president or a former head of a transitional government cannot enjoy special privileges. Chairman Bryant believes that he’s innocent of these charges, and has often said that he will vigorously put up his defense. He needs to the court, put up his defense and see where the chips lie with a jury of his peers. But the government is not going to give him any special privilege because he’s been a former chair of a transitional government,” Bropleh said.
Bryant said he authorized many expenditures during his tenure as transitional government chair, But he said some of the expenditures are classified and protected by law.
Bropleh said Bryant is not telling the truth. He said allegations of corruption in the transitional government was first discovered by an audit authorized by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
“In fact it is not this government that determines that former chairman Gyude Bryant could not account for over one point something million dollars. It was a forensic audit from ECOWAS that determined that during his stewardship large amount of money on his watch attributed to his leadership could not be accounted for. So it’s not a matter of witch-hunting,” Bropleh said.
The information minister said the government appreciates former chairman Bryant. But he said the justice system cannot discriminate.
“This government appreciates Chairman Bryant and all of our citizens. But we cannot be discriminative in the justice system. We are a country with rule of law returning from digressive and violent actions, and the way to move Liberia forward is for all of us to account for our deeds and our activities in governments previously, in governments now, and in governments yet to come,” Bropleh said.
Bropleh said if Bryant feels he has done nothing wrong, he should go to the court to be judged by a jury of his peers.