LIBERIA, the African country with the motto: THE LOVE OF LIBERTY BROUGHT US HERE, has seen quite bloody successful and attempted coups, and survived two barbaric civil wars. However, one politician has been part of its troubled history for the past 46 years.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the out-going 80-year-old president of the country has served in every government since 1972 when President William. R. Tolbert. Jr appointed her an Assistant Minister. Since then, it has been one long story of a political leader that cannot be pinned down to principles.
In 1980, a Master Sergeant, Samuel Kanyon Doe staged a bloody coup in which President Tolbert was killed and some of his supporters, executed. But Sirleaf had no qualms serving as the Finance Minister in the Doe dictatorship. When she fell out with Doe, Sirleaf teamed up with rebels led by Charles Taylor to found the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, NPF and began an insurgency and Liberia’s first civil war. She raised funds for the rebels.
After the war, she ran for the presidency in 1997 as the candidate of the Unity Party, winning 25 per cent of the votes in an election in which Taylor won 75 per cent of the ballot. Later, she left for exile in Cote d’Ivoire and returned after the second civil war. She was the Head of the country’s Governance Reform Commission charged with overseeing the transition to democratic governance. That was in 2003. Two years later, she again ran for the presidency, losing to the international footballer, George Weah in the first ballot, but won the run-off and was sworn in on January 16, 2006.
She suffered a serious blow when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission her government set up recommended that Sirleaf and others involved in the country’s civil wars be barred from holding elective office for 30 years. Of course, it was a no-binding recommendation and she continued in office until now.
In 2011, Sirleaf who had promised to serve only one term, again ran for the presidency. While in the previous election, the hand of the West was a bit hidden, this time it was exposed; she was its beloved daughter. Her candidacy was challenged on the basis that it violated the constitution which provides that all presidential candidates are to have resided in the country for 10 years prior to the elections.
Six days before the vote, the Supreme Court ruled against the constitution claiming that those who wrote it did not envisage a civil war which necessitated some politicians going into exile. Then four days before the ballot, a controversial Nobel Prize for Peace was jointly awarded her and two others; Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women. Not a few wondered how a politician who was a leader of a violent insurgency which led to a bloody civil war can be termed ‘non-violent’.
Her tenure is characterised by unprecedented nepotism. She appointed her son, Charles Sirleaf (who had been indicted for breaching the rules on asset declaration) as the governor of the Liberian Central Bank.
She appointed another son, Robert Sirleaf as chief executive of the National Oil Company of Liberia, while a third son, Fombah Sirleaf was made head of the National Security Agency, the body responsible for internal security. Fombah was accused of illegal seizure of money and an investigation was launched. In October 2014, Minister of Justice, Christiana Tah resigned in protest accusing Sirleaf of interfering and compromising the investigation. Sirleaf is also accused of appointing other members of her family into top positions in government.
The West never hid their dislike for Charles Taylor who appeared too independent-minded. He was President from August 2, 1997. Following another round of foreign-funded insurgency in Liberia, the African Union appealed to him in the overall interest of the country to step down. He did on August 11, 2003.
However, in a conspiracy of the West, then Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo and Sirleaf, the asylum conditions of Taylor were compromised; he was seized by Nigerian authorities, transported to the Sirleaf government who from the airport handed him to his Western enemies. Today, the former African leader is in a British prison in Durham serving a 50-year sentence for alleged war crimes. Sirleaf and Obasanjo compromised the ability of African countries to resolve conflicts that may necessitate an African leader stepping down to ensure peace.
Ironically, today, Sirleaf has to live with the reality that she will be handing over power on January 22 to President-elect, George Weah and Vice-President-elect, Mrs. Jewel Howard-Taylor. Yes, the former First Lady of the same Charles Taylor she betrayed like Judas Iscariot betrayed his master.
When the West moved against Libyan President Muammar Ghadaffi, sponsoring and funding Islamic terrorists, street toughies and criminal gangs to overthrow his government, Sirleaf was one of the African leaders used to undermine the Ghadaffi government and turn a quite prosperous and peaceful African country into a jungle.
Acting the Western script, the Sirleaf government without provocation, severed diplomatic ties with the Libyan Government. In trying to justify her slavish action, Sirleaf said: “The Government took the decision after a careful review of the situation in Libya and determined that the Government of Colonel Ghaddafi has lost the legitimacy to govern Libya.”
As part of its long term plan to colonise Africa militarily, the Americans established a so-called US Africa Command, AFRICOM. Like the infamous American House Negro, Sirleaf groveled, begging to allow Liberia host the headquarters of the foreign intervention force. But the Americans rejected her pathetic pleas and located the headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. Under her Presidency of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, in 2017, she was fingered in the unsuccessful attempt to hoist Morocco, a North African country, as a member of the West African Regional bloc.
Sirleaf introduced free education in Liberia. I am not in a position to assess this. But she put up a spirited fight to stop tough laws against homosexuality, obviously to please her Western pay masters. Not surprisingly, a president that came to power with the mantra of anti-corruption is one of the 120 world leaders exposed in the Paradise Papers hiding off-shore investment. Her company’s name is the Bermuda Company Songhai Financial Holdings Ltd.
In the run-off election, Sirleaf showed her unprincipled side by abandoning her Unity Party candidate, Joseph Boakai who is also her Vice-President, to campaign for Weah who was more likely to win. It is not surprising that the party has expelled her. To them it is goodbye to bad rubbish. As Sirleaf departs the Presidency of Liberia, I don’t think we in Africa will miss her.