A member of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has been given a seven-day ultimatum to resign because of an article he allegedly wrote in 1996 calling for a jihad in Liberia. A group calling itself the Forum for War Crimes in Liberia has also accused Sheik Kafumba Konneh of protecting warlords from former Muslim-dominated warring factions during Liberia’s civil war.
According to its constitutive act, members of the TRC are supposed to be persons of high integrity and honor and not known or perceived as human rights violators. The chairman of the TRC, Jerome Verdier, who is visiting the United States, said his commission is looking into the allegations and would respond accordingly. Meanwhile, Sheik Konneh said the allegations are baseless.
“Because of the civil war, there are some individuals who have been traumatized, and they have become so disgruntled, they only take pride in tarnishing the reputations of those who are prominent in the Liberian society. They have given me an ultimatum, and I have told them that I’m not going to resign because their allegation is fallacious,” he said.
Konneh would not say if he wrote an article advocating for jihad as alleged or that he supported Muslim warlords during Liberia’s civil war. He could only say that his reputation would exonerate him.
“In the first place, they have to establish beyond all reasonable doubt that I wrote an article, and that such article called for jihad, and that I was in one way or the other supporting any warring faction during our national nightmare. But I believe that my track record can exonerate myself from those malicious charges that they have meted against me,” Konneh said.
He described the group making the allegations against him as criminals and disgruntled elements of society with no credibility. Konneh said he worked for peace for 15 years in Liberia and wondered how he could be making peace and at the same time advocating for war.
Konneh believed the allegations are a form of discrimination not only against him but against all Muslims in Liberia.
“It appears that whenever they have someone who is associated with Islam, they will have some false accusations against that person. Take the case of Dr. Hassan Conteh (current president of the University of Liberia), Kabineh Janneh as associate justice of the Supreme Court. Now, it is my turn. So we are not surprised because they are trying to prove the kind of persons they are, that they are divisive and trying to project the image that Moslems cannot occupy any position in Liberia,” he said.
Konneh said his accusers will never be successful in their accusations because he said Liberians will live together as one people, and will never return to those extremes that he said precipitated the country’s civil war.
According to the constitutive act of the Liberia TRC, its members are supposed to be persons of high integrity and honor and not known or perceived as human rights violators or members of groups involved in human rights violations.
Konneh would not say whether he should be disqualified as TRC member if it is proven that he advocated for a jihad or that he harbored warlords during Liberia’s civil war.
“This is why I’m putting forth the challenge for them to come through the proper channels and substantiate their allegations. As it is now, it is a mere allegation, and mere allegation cannot stand without being substantiated by testimony beyond reasonable doubt,” Konneh said.
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