Former Senator Bankrolling Dissidents?
Editor's Note: Former Senator Charles W. Brumskine, once an ardent defender of the Taylor regime, has been linked to LURD, the dissident group fighting to unseat President Taylor. Mr. Brunskine was later chased out of Liberia by Taylor's armed groups. The statement that the former Senator is raising funds to bankroll LURD was purportedly made by Representative Sando Johnson. In the past, similar allegations against opposition leaders led to treason charges. The press statements issued by Brumskine's supporters in the USA and Liberia against the allegation are as follows:
I am today [December 14, 2001] reissuing for the benefit of Liberians in the Diaspora the following press release issued by the Friends of Charles Brumskine Monrovia. Not surprisingly, there are allegations stemming from henchmen of the government of Liberia that Cllr. Charles Brumskine is raising money for the rebel group Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) to prosecute the war in Lofa. The Friends of Charles Brumskine USA takes this opportunity to categorically condemn the scurrilous allegation and expose its motives.
It is no secret that the group, which I chair, has been raising money from Liberians in the USA to assist Cllr. Brumskine's exploratory committee conduct its feasibility determination as to the role he should play in the 2003 scheduled general elections. This fundraising effort has even sparked debate among Liberians concerning the qualifications for office for those seeking elected office in Liberia and Cllr. Brumskine's own record. We have wholeheartedly endorsed this process. The Friends of Charles Brumskine and Cllr. Charles Brumskine himself believe that violence is the true enemy of the Liberian people, whether it comes from the current government or its enemies pursuing armed struggle to topple it. Instead, we believe in the constitutional and democratic process, as hopeless as it may seem. Out of hopelessness and despair, it is possible to build institutions and a democracy that we can all be proud of.
The motives behind these allegations are threefold. First, the allegations set the stage for the government to bring trumped up treason charges against Cllr. Brumskine in order to prevent his return to Liberia early next year and participate in the 2003 general elections. Second, the allegations are designed to stifle fundraising among Liberians in the United States who, admirably, have learned the lesson of history and would not contribute one penny to a war effort. Since Article 82(b) of the Liberian constitution limits fundraising abroad to only Liberian citizen, this ploy would have a chilling effect on fundraising by other candidates, while allowing the current regime in Liberia to finance their reelection with money from the Liberian coffers (which is itself unconstitutional, but no one has ever accused the Monrovia regime of believing in or abiding by the Liberian constitution). Finally, it is an opportunity to persecute and ostracize the supporters of Charles W. Brumskine who are only associated with lawful political activities.
We are grateful that even those who do not support Cllr. Brumskine would find these allegations laughable at best and ridiculous at worst.
Issued by Debar Allen, Chairman of group known as Friends of Charles Walker Brumskine USA:
The Monrovia Press Release:
Committee of the Friends of Charles Walker Brumskine, Monrovia, Liberia
Monrovia, December 13, 2001: - We like to state here emphatically that Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine ascribes to the principles of freedom and democracy as are enshrined in the Liberian Constitution.
In accordance with these beliefs, Cllr. Brumskine has not and can never be party to any arrangement that encourages any form of violence, especially that which may be aimed at assuming political power by the force of arms.
It is the position of Cllr. Brumskine and his friends that no military intervention can serve the people of Liberia, and may unduly forestall the democratic transition expected in 2003.
Statements attributed to House Majority Whip Sando Johnson about Brumskine's complicity in raising funds for rebel forces are just as scandalous and irresponsible as the author.
Johnson, as well as his benefactors, know full well that Brumskine does not ascribe to violence, and would not partake in such cowardly activities.
For the records, Brumskine has been working with young, progressive and democratic minded Liberians in the hope of providing this country a clean and credible democracy that would be acceptable to all other democratic governments.
There is no crime in raising funds for democratic purposes, and we want to call out to the Liberian people to be wary of statements and actions by the likes of Sando Johnson, that are meant to scare away credible people who are intent on exposing the underachievement of this administration.
We like to further warn these sycophants and idlers that their scare tactics would not work this time around.
The Liberian people should be mindful that such attempts to prevent peaceful change are what normally lead to violence in effecting change.