By: Theodore Hodge
|Ellen and Sawyer|
The Ebola crisis in Liberia is turning into a full political crisis in more ways than have been predicted. Dr. Amos Sawyer has become a key player, but not in a flattering way. It requires some time to sit back and fully analyze and understand the role played by this veteran political giant on the Liberian national scene. Some of the news surfacing about him is quite disappointing and disturbing… that is, if one believes what one hears and reads.
It has been rumored in the grapevine (and now officially reported in the press) that a plan to dethrone the EJS administration is taking shape in the Liberian Diaspora. Some Liberians abroad (specifically in the USA) are hatching a plan to seek and force the resignation of the President of Liberia.
The first version is an outright overthrow of the government. A former professor and Vice President at the University of Liberia, Dr. James Tarpeh, is touted to be the candidate of choice to take the president’s place. It is not clear on what basis this plan hinges its legitimacy. What makes a former college professor a clear choice for the presidency is unclear. This version is not given enough credence or the chance to succeed; the plan will die before it comes to fruition.
But according to the grapevine, there are several alternative plans making the rounds. There is another version with several alternate scenarios to materialize the scheme: There are those seeking just the official resignation of the president. In that case, the VP will be constitutionally required to step in and finish the unexpired term. But what would be the basis for requesting the president’s resignation, in the first place, I have inquired? It has been argued that the president’s handling of the present crisis has undermined her ability to rule effectively. Her inefficient policies are a result of the crisis. They, therefore, jump to the conclusion that the president’s inefficiency is tantamount to incapacitation. I do not know how such an argument will fare in the face of a stringent constitutional probe. In my own opinion, it is a stretch; I have my doubts that such an argument holds water. But for the record, I must state here unequivocally that I’m no constitutional scholar.
The second scenario or version calls for the resignation of both the president and the VP. In that case, the Speaker of the House will be next in line to assume the presidency. The primary difference between the two plans: While the VP will be required and mandated to serve the remainder of the unexpired term of the president (three years), should the Speaker succeed, he will only be required to hold the seat for ninety days, after which new elections will be arranged.
I have learned that a teleconference was arranged by Dr. Amos Sawyer to put this rebel plan into action. Key political players, or those perceived to be key players, were invited and the teleconference did indeed take place on Saturday, 30 August, 2014. Another key player purportedly rumored to be working with Sawyer is Dr. Elwood Dunn, although according to the person I talked to, he was not present at the teleconference.
Sawyer was reportedly questioned about his role in this present administration. After all, he has been a key player in the president’s circle, presently holding the portfolio of Chairman of the Governance Commission. Did he not accept any responsibility for the administration’s failed policies, since he has been a key advisor and player? What policy advice did he give and why has there been no major changes implemented so far? According to his excuse, he has not been given any key powers to implement policies. He can only design and recommend policy, but he lacks the power to implement them. He, therefore, lays all blame at the feet (or on the desk) of the president.
But the keen observer will question this logic. If you have been in the vanguard advocating social and political change in the country, why will you agree to serve in a position where your advice is ignored? Why do you continue to serve a president in whose ability you have lost trust? If you have felt that you and the president have not been on the same page in terms of which direction to move the country, why have you not resigned? (These are not questions posed at the teleconference; these are critical questions that I’m raising and wondering why they were not addressed… We probably know why; the meeting was attended by loyalists too timid to ask tough questions).
Questioned as to whether he sees himself as that radical (firebrand) he was once was, he admitted that age has caused him to mellow. He has now transformed and should not be expected to be in his old age what he was in his youth. Maybe it’s a tacit admission that he is not up to the task of leading a national political fight. But why is he a key player in advocating regime change? Is he simply in the fight for personal preservation? One must wonder.
Dr. Sawyer now claims that the lack of reform in the country is all the president’s fault. He claims their recommendations are on the “president’s desk”. It is the president’s failure to act that has led to the current quagmire. But the same Dr. Sawyer said in recent interview (May 2014) that the progressives are now placed to” interact with national policymakers, including the presidency, the legislature and other stakeholders” which put them in a position for “constructive engagement”.
But if he believed this just a few short months ago, when did he come to the sudden realization that the president is ineffective and must be shown the door? Isn’t this kind of hasty and convenient to suit his own interests? The question that comes to mind is: Is Dr. Sawyer a fair weather friend, capricious and disloyal to the point of abandoning a friend at the slightest sign of trouble? What kind of character is that?
Dr. Sawyer was on a list of government officials outside the country as the Ebola crisis dominated the affairs of state. The president issued an executive order requiring all high level officials to return to the country or risk being fired… The president went out of her way to grant him and few others an exemption. Now, how does he repay the loyalty reposed in him? He is busy organizing and devising a plan for regime change. Shouldn’t there be loyalty among friends, even among thieves?
I have been quite critical of the president lately, but I do not condone such acts of disloyalty. People who play such double-faced and double-tongued games should never be trusted. Dr. Sawyer, though suspected of being a backstabber for a long time, has now officially become one in my book; no doubt whatsoever.
Lastly, I hereby state for the record that I do not advocate forced regime change, especially one manipulated by outside forces… even by Liberians in exile (forced or voluntary). Any change of the status quo in Liberia must be initiated and channeled by Liberians on Liberian soil. The country belongs to all of us, both at home and abroad, but it does not belong to elitist or perceived elitist groups. Any change that does not take into account the equation involving the masses on the ground is fruitless and unappealing to me.
The O’Jays, a popular R&B group in the 60s and 70s sang a popular tone :
They Smile in your face
All the time…
They wanna take your place
The back stabbers
Author: Theodore Hodge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org