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Liberia's Truth Commission Member Denies Being a Rebel Supporter


A member of Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has been accused of being a member of one of the many rebel factions that waged the country's civil war from 1989 to 2003. Sheikh Kafumah Konneh is accused of being a founding member of the United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia (ULIMO-K), the rebel group once headed by Alhaji Kromah.

TRC Chairman Jerome Verdier is said to be in the process of formally asking Sheikh Konneh to recuse himself from the work of the commission due to what some are calling the overwhelming nature of the allegations.

Sheik Konneh told VOA the allegations are diabolical and bent to tarnish his good reputation.

"One of the negative impacts of a war in any society is that it demoralizes the youth and traumatizes the old age, deranged the metal concept and the social integrity of young people in the society. Liberia is of no exception, and there are evil-minded people who bent on tarnishing the reputation of good people," he said.

Konneh said some of his accusers have paid by individuals he did not name to tarnish his reputation. He said he will call a news conference in the near future to name them.

He described the allegations against him as false the allegations against him.

"They are not only false, but are diabolical, are criminal, are malicious. I was here from the beginning of the war and my activities are opened," Konneh said.

Sources in the Liberian capital said TRC chairman Jerome Verdier is in the process of formally writing to Sheikh Konneh to ask him to recuse himself from the activities of the commission.

The fear is that Konneh's continued presence on the commission as an alleged violator of human rights might tarnish the truth commission's image.

But Konneh said his fellow TRC members do not have the authority to ask for his removal from the commission.

"They have no power to ask me to step down; they have no substantial grounds to ask me to step down, and mere allegations, contradictory statements from evil-minded people cannot force me to resign," Konneh said.

Konneh also denied being a co-founder of ULIMO-K, the rebel group once headed by Alhaji Kromah. He said ULIMO fighters tried to kill him.

"If there was any warring faction that attempted to take my life was ULIMO-K. I was threatened; I was under the protection and security of ECOMOG (the West African peacekeepers in Liberia during the war) for three months and 15 days here in Monrovia. But I was compelled, under my moral obligation never to turn my back to any warring faction because we were engaged in peace making," Therefore, I take the interest of our nation above my personal life and interest," Konneh said.

He said he has never once talked with any warring faction alone. Konneh said he always did so with his counterparts in then Interfaith Mediation and Inter-religious Council of Liberia.

Konneh also rejected allegations that he visited a ULIMO-K rebel camp and gave money to some of the fighters.

"It's a lie! The only time that I visited ULIMO-Controlled area was in Tubmanburg, and I went there with Bishop Dicks, moderator Brown and some other people. This was not a secret visit,"

The TRC released Volume I of its preliminary report last month in which it is calling for the establishment of a criminal court to prosecute former warring faction leaders for crimes against the people.

According to sources, Konneh is one of two members of the TRC who are said to be against the recommendations.

Konneh said he and three other members of the commission had no final input into the final document.

"Under the Act of the TRC, whatever decision we are to take must be taken either by consensus or two-thirds vote of the majority, and if we cannot get two-thirds vote, then we can have simple majority and where there is a tie, the chairman would cast the final vote. But in current case, we set up a committee to draft a report for our review, our input and then approval. Four of the commission members have communicated with the legislature to say we do not know the contents of that document because when it was drafted, while we were discussing we did not complete the discussion of the document page by page before it was presented to the legislature. And it does not include our input," Konneh said.

He said the TRC Act also limits the powers of the commission on granting amnesty or recommending prosecution of alleged violators of human rights.


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