Looking Back At The Year 2003
January 1, 2004
As we began the year 2003, the pariah regime in Monrovia stepped up its clampdown on the press and human rights defenders. As Hassan Bility, the journalist who had lingered in Taylor’s dungeons was released, another journalist, Throuble Suah was severely brutalized by Taylor’s dreaded ATU agents. Human-rights defender Aloysius Toe was in prison on flimsy charges. Meanwhile, the shocking murder of Fitzgerald Vampelt (allegedly killed by Chuckie Taylor, the dictator’s son) rocked the conscience of the nation.
The year 2003 should have been the year in which national elections would have been held; also, a year the Liberian opposition political parties were to engage in an uphill battle to unseat Mr. Taylor who had the playing field tilted in his favor. But as he did in 2002, the Liberian dictator, continued his iron-fist rule by intimidating and dividing the opposition.
In another case, while Mr. Taylor was stamping his signature on terror in Monrovia, his partners-in-crime (LURD and MODEL), were administering similar acts of terror against the people of Lofa, Bong, Gbarpolu Counties and southeastern Liberia. The government forces and LURD rebels were engaged in an ongoing battle that victimized innocent citizens, many were killed in Monrovia and parts adjacent.
Regrettably, MODEL, LURD’s cousins started their terror via Toe Town. Some aid workers (working for SADRA) were gruesomely murdered (allegedly by MODEL). A group, dominated by the Krahn ethnic group, entered Grand County where they were said to have co-existed with fellow Khrans of the county but the MODEL rebels had been accused of committing atrocities against the Greboes of River Gee and Maryland Counties, the Kru of Sinoe and Grand Kru Counties, the Bassa of Grand Bassa County and the Gio and Mano of Nimba County. This led to the exodus of people including refugees from those counties.
Despite all the terror meted against the Liberian people in 2003, there were so many things that happened for which we find ourselves obliged to say thanks to those of you who, on gratis, have made invaluable contributions to The Perspective in 2003.
In 2003, we saw the indictment and resignation of the dictator that terrorized Liberia for fourteen unbroken years. In addition, the inclusion of timber (May 2003) in the UN sanctions imposed on Liberia on May 7, 2001, is another good thing for which Liberians are to be thankful.
After the downfall of Taylor some detractors felt that The Perspective would fold. But I have said to them that our work of helping to make Liberia what it ought to be has just begun.
And as we enter 2004, we are convinced that our partners or contributors will not drop their pens. Some of the issues we need to tackle vigorously are:
Donors Conference - How should the money be spent? Liberians must be vigilant in demanding transparency in government actions, especially the disbursement and budgeting of funds donated by the international community.
Continued highlighting of corrupt practices in government - This issue must a be given serious attention.
Is the Interim government any different from the government it succeeds? We must launch investigations to probe for answers and expose any discrepancies.
Should the UN lift sanctions on Liberia be lifted, as the interim government is requesting - even though the government ignored the sanctions when it appointed individuals affected by UN travel ban to ministerial positions?
Is Mr. Bryant a toothless bulldog? Are the former military groups of LURD, MODEL and GOL too much of a threat to the safety of the nation? Unlike previous interim leaders, Mr. Bryant has the benefit of 15,000 UN troops - can he use this to his advantage?
Knowing that Mr. Bryant is not inclined to bring war criminals to justice, President Obasanjo is saying that he will ask Taylor to leave when he is asked by Liberia to do so, where do Liberians stand on this issue? Our voices must continually be heard.
Corruption at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). Several documents published by this paper indicate how the Central Bank of Liberia worked hand in hand with the deposed government for the benefit of its governor and other senior officers. Does this interim government intend to probe these charges?
Isn’t there a conflict of interest in using the same people who were visibly higher-ups in the deposed government as leaders in the interim government? These and many other issues need our undivided attention and action.
Kudos to the Perspective Family
In short, The Perspective extends sincere thanks and wholehearted appreciation to its staff and many contributors for making personal sacrifices in order to have this great undertaking succeed. Kudos also to our many committed readers whose intense feedbacks made this undertaking an enjoyable experience. This effort was worth every moment because of your encouragement and praise. We will work harder for you. The Perspective wishes all its readers a Happy New Year!