News / Africa

Civil War Legacy Part of Liberia's Presidential Campaign

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf looks on during the closing session of the 17th African Union Summit, at Sipopo Conference Center, outside Malabo, Equatorial Guinea (File Photo - July 1, 2011)
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf looks on during the closing session of the 17th African Union Summit, at Sipopo Conference Center, outside Malabo, Equatorial Guinea (File Photo - July 1, 2011)

Eight years after Liberia's civil war, the slow pace of reconciliation is a big part of local politics. In her re-election campaign, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says the country is making progress. Her opponents say she is ignoring the findings of a commission that called for her to be barred from politics.  

President Sirleaf says her government has worked hard to heal the ethnic divisions that fueled 14 years of fighting. But the progress has been slow.

"Our process of national healing and reconciliation is neither perfect nor complete, but we know we have made the necessary first step on this long journey,” she said.

The president says that journey begins with a “palava hut” program where people can admit a wrong and seek pardon from the Liberian people through customary procedures.

“With peace and stability comes our great need for further reconciliation of the Liberian people traumatized by war and by ethnic and social tensions," she said. "We have started that process and have taken important steps to heal the country through a fully established independent commission on human rights.”

A national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommended the “palava hut” for less serious crimes but said those most responsible for violence must face formal prosecution. Jerome Verdier, who led that commission, says the president has failed in her responsibility to bring to justice former rebel leaders and their top associates.

“Without a semblance of justice, without any credible threat of prosecution for people who took arms and waged a senseless war, creates a fertile condition for a recurrence of conflict,” said Verdier.

President Sirleaf told the commission that she helped raise several thousand dollars for then-rebel leader Charles Taylor at the start of the civil war but withdrew her support when Taylor forces started killing civilians.

The commission said that as a “financier” of the Taylor rebellion, she should be barred from politics for 30 years.  With the commission report buried in parliament, Verdier says President Sirleaf's re-election campaign “epitomizes impunity at the highest level.”

“Just when we think we are making progress, it seems there is no moral authority to guide the progression of the country to genuine democracy,” said Verdier.

The commission also recommended banning from politics the former rebel leader and current senator Prince Johnson. Johnson is now running for president as well.  Verdier says that is not what post-war Liberia needs.

“An entire generation has known nothing but conflict and war," said Johnson. "And these are the masterminds, these are the organizers, the financiers of this conflict, of the war.  And to perpetuate their rule and their participation at the highest level of governance doesn't set any example for the new generation.”

President Sirleaf's political challengers say she has lost credibility on the reconciliation issue.

“Our country has yet to be reconciled," said Acarous Gray, secretary general of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change. "While it is true that we enjoy some degree of stability in terms of people shooting guns around here, the head of state has failed to reconcile the Liberian people in term of reaching out, in terms of concentrating on the TRC report.”

Gray is using the president's political vulnerability to promote his party's candidate.

“Ambassador Winston Tubman brings reconciliation to the table," said Gray. "He is not one of those persons who participated in the crisis, who sponsored Mr. Taylor or sponsoring any warlord, unlike President Sirleaf.”

The president's record on reconciliation features prominently in the campaigns of several of her challengers, including Taylor's former senate president, a former rebel commander, and a youth pastor.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid