Tolerance and Justice: Let’s Experience Some Too


By: George-Daweh Yuoh


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
December 16, 2005


The situation obtaining back home calls for all of us to be rational in our dispositions. A few weeks ago when Mr. George Weah and the CDC filed their case with the NEC, and when others started screaming for him to concede irrespective of his concerns, I sounded a note of warning that our democracy was being tested, and how we meet that test would determine whether the next six years would be smooth or not. This is our first test!

Tolerance and Patience

Particularly, after going through what we went through over the past 20 years due in part to the extreme intolerance exhibited by both Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor, you would think that this time around we would have learned well and be ready to practice what we preached and what we longed for all these years. Patience and tolerance are inseparable virtues of democracy. To understand that the next person doesn't need to think like you is to understand freedom of choice, a very major component of participatory democracy.

Following the run-off and as soon as the CDC announced its claims of fraud and irregularities, people started calling Mr. Weah names for doing what none of our past "educated" opposition leaders ever did. And that is, seeking the peaceful and legal resolution of a perceived or alleged disenfranchisement. Should we not allow our institutions, including the courts to work freely and fairly for once? Doesn't our Constitution guarantee that Mr. Weah has the right to disagree with the NEC and even challenge the elections results as he deems fit? Perhaps, if previous opposition leaders had taken the same route Mr. Weah is pursuing now, we wouldn't have had any war in Liberia, and the over 250,000 lives lost in the process would have been saved.

Like many of my compatriots, I will not support anyone who brings war on our people, and that is why I have always maintained that all of those who sponsored and supervised the destruction of Liberia are unfit to govern Liberia. But it seems that, with the help of the international community, we have now developed the culture of rewarding warmongers and merchants of death with political power. I hope we can gather the political will and fortitude to break this trend. For where is the disincentive to violence when we all but espouse violence as the easier channel to political power?

Weah’s Comments and the Backlash

But truth be told, Mr. Weah's comments about making sure that inauguration would not be held until the world addresses his concerns, were completely out of order, since he has already file his case with the NEC. The Supreme Court is also available should he be dissatisfied with the ruling from the NEC, and he can file injunctions and other petitions to buttress his efforts. But making such a sweeping statement that has the propensity to spark unnecessary retributions can only play in the hands of his adversaries. In my opinion, Mr. Weah should call a press conference immediately, inviting particularly the international press including the BBC, CNN and AP to clarify the issue, and if necessary, apologize to the people of Liberia for that statement, so as to calm their wary nerves.

At the same time, I believe that the comments Mr. Weah made, pertaining to his claim that he was the one elected president is nothing new, and in fact that statement was consistent with his case before the NEC. If one feels cheated in a process and lost, then it is logical to conclude that he believes he was otherwise the winner of that process. My only concern about such comment is that it could jeopardize his case currently before the NEC. Nevertheless, and like Mr. Weah, I too say that it is a case that must be investigated and pursued to the very LEGAL end! If in the end the NEC and Supreme Court rule against Mr. Weah and the CDC, I will be one of the first to ask him to abide by the ruling of the courts, and which I am sure he will do. But until then, he has the right to scream that he was cheated, and so justice must be served accordingly!

Unprovoked Police Brutality and Justice

Having said that, I am bewildered that Liberians are consistently in the habit of nurturing dictators and tyrants, only to come back and start to scream when the tyrannical apparatuses are unleashed on them. When Samuel Doe started his killings, people justified his actions until they became uncontrollable. Similarly, there were those who supported and cheered on Charles Taylor in his misadventures of chaos and tyranny. Now, the national police have gone to a political party’s headquarters to violently removed partisans from the premises without any justifiable reasons, nor without any court warrant to do so. And instead of condemning the police’s action of unprovoked and unwarranted brutality, people are cheering them on and slamming the partisans of CDC with all types of slurs.

Before the police move on to a private property to touch a single pin, they must have a court’s warrant to do so. Anything else is just plain jungle justice. What Liberians need to be asking now is what prompted such a reckless and violent reaction and confrontation from the police, to the point where lives were endangered and private properties belonging to the CDC destroyed. Is this the kind of justice we must expect in the new Liberia, where police can do anything without questions being asked? Where is justice?

While at this, it is necessary to call on the NEC to adjudicate the CDC claims as judiciously and expeditiously as they can. It is more than 30 days now since the CDC launched its protests about the validity of the results. It is in everyone’s interest that this case be quickly resolved. I will not preempt what that resolution will be, but I can only say that any further delay could be suggestive of a miscarriage of justice.

Peace in Liberia

Now therefore, it is not undemocratic for opposition figures to call on supporters to rally against decisions of the ruling government. If people were executed each time this happened, then there would have been no more democracy left in the world today. In the civilize world we live in, and that which we wish for our country, everyone does not jump on the bandwagon of the ruling party. There are those who will remain in the opposition, and those who fall in this latter category are no lesser patriots either. We must be tolerant of each other, or face the possibility of chaos. For if a society closes all doors to others who seek justice, society then open other doors for confrontation.

Liberia is for all of us, and as much as we want peace so badly, some of us want lasting peace, and not just any cosmetic design. The hallmark of tranquility is when people understand and believe that when they have been wronged, there is a system that they can go to and get proper redress. Take this away, and you sow seeds of discord and chaos. We have struggled to come thus far, and loosing over 250,000 of our compatriots in the process. We will not go back to war, but most importantly, we must not and never allow what took us there in the first place to see the light of day in mother Liberia.

About the Author: George D. Yuoh is a Liberian, resident in the state of Minnesota. He can be reached at