The widow of the late Brigadier General Thomas Quiwonkpa of Liberia has met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in an effort to reconcile their differences.
General Quiwonkpa was a key member of the 18 non-commission officers who in 1980 overthrew and assassinated President William R. Tolbert, the last Americo-Liberian president.
He later fled to the United States after President Samuel Doe accused him of an attempted coup.
But in November 1985, Quiwonkpa led an unsuccessful armed invasion to overthrow Doe.
He was captured and beheaded.
Since then, his widow, Tarloh Quiwonkpa has blamed President Sirleaf and other associates for leading her husband to his death.
Now, Mrs. Quiwonkpa, who is currently in Monrovia at the invitation of President Sirleaf, told VOA that it’s time to bury the hatchet.
“One of the reasons why I decided to reconcile is that our people are suffering and the standard of living here under the leadership of President Sirleaf has tremendously improved…in order to sustain peace in this country we all need to come together and reconcile with the past. I know it’s very hard to forget, but we all should forgive and move on,” she said.
Mrs. Quiwonkpa said she is willing to forgive everyone because to continue to hold on to the past only helps to drive investors away from Liberia.
“We are all human beings. As we get older in life we become wiser. We cannot be angry and viciously maintain that sense of hatred. It does not do anything. I’m also not there to be the first one to cast a stone. However, like I said, we can all forgive but we cannot forget the past. The past is part of our history, but yet and still we can use that and become constructively strong in bringing about stability,” Quiwonkpa said.
According to local media reports, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf yesterday Thursday facilitated a meeting between Mrs. Nancy Doe, widow of the late President Samuel Kanyon Doe and Mrs. Quiwonkpa.
The reports said President Sirleaf stressed the need for unity.
Mrs. Quiwonkpa said her meeting with Mrs. Doe was intended to bring closure to the hatred that has existed between Doe’s Krahn ethnic group and Quiwonkpa’s Gio ethnic group.
“I did meet with Mrs. Doe. The President, Madam Sirleaf was able to facilitate that meeting, and I do thank her very much from the bottom of my heart. That meeting today was needed to bring a closure between Mrs. Doe and I and the rest of this Nimba Gio thing to a closure, and let the people realize that we are one people,” she said.
Mrs. Quiwonkpa also hoped all Liberians would emulate her reconciliation efforts to move Liberia further on the path to a sustained peace.
Local media reports said Mrs. Quiwonkpa, who arrived in the country recently, is there at the invitation of President Sirleaf.
President Sirleaf is seeking re-election in next year’s election, and local media reports said Mrs. Quiwonkpa welcomed President Sirleaf’s decision to run for a second term.
She expressed her willingness to return to Liberia during the 2011 elections to campaign for President Sirleaf.
Mrs. Quiwonkpa said she has no political ambition but that if she’s asked she would give it some consideration.
“Currently I have no political ambition. However, if I’m asked to come and share my one or two skills, I’ll be more than glad to give my country the skills that I have learned in the United States of America,” she said.