Sources in the Liberian capital, Monrovia said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will Thursday testify before the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
It has been alleged that as an activist and politician President Sirleaf supported Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia rebel movement that eventually led to the overthrow of President Samuel Doe. The Truth Commission had since earlier this year asked the president to testify.
Peter Quoiquoi, president of the Press Union of Liberia, told VOA Liberians had been anticipating the president’s testimony.
“We’ve heard from some radio stations that the president will appear today, but there are reports coming out of the mansion (presidential palace) that yes the president will appear but not today. But there is anticipation. Ever since people had been anticipating that the president would appear before the TRC to testify. And so it would be big news if she testifies today,” he said.
Quoiquoi said the TRC wants to hear from the president because it had been alleged that as an activist and politician President Sirleaf supported Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia rebel movement that eventually led to the overthrow of President Samuel Doe.
“My guess is that there are people here who lived here when the President was active in activism. They believe that the President might have played a role in some of the conflicts from 1979 to this minute. And so she’s a very important and key person. Of course, for us to do reconciliation here we have to talk from all levels. Some of the people who testified before the TRC mentioned the president, and I’m sure the public would be very eager to know what role the president played in any kind of conflict that occurred in our country,” Quoiquoi said.
President Sirleaf came to the presidency on the platform of respect for the rule of law.
Quoiquoi said the president’s appearance would bolster the Truth Commission’s work.
“I would think it would validate the resolve of the TRC whenever they finalize their work. The other side of this is that a lot of people have appeared before the TRC and have made mockery of the whole process. And so whether the President’s appearance would make a difference, we will wait to see. But there are those who believe very strongly that with the appearance of the president we certainly will have people accepting the resolve of the TRV finings,” Quoiquoi said.
TRC hearings in the past had been broadcast live on local radio stations in Liberian. But Quoiquoi said concerns for President Sirleaf’s security could make it difficult for her testimony to be carried live.
“There have been prior arguments from some groups of people that the President should appear in cameral, and there are those who believe that the president should appear in open like others have done. I’m sure what might happen, because of the president’s security, the TRC will allow the public to stay away and probably they have it broadcast later to the public. I’m sure that might be the route the TRC would take,” Quoiquoi said.
He said the TRC must carefully balance the public’s need to hear their president testify and her security.