Holding Political Chameleons Accountable
By Omari Jackson

Much has been written about the principal players in the seven-year national holocaust in Liberia. Primarily, the principal players claimed they launched their various rebellions in order to right what were wrong in the Liberian society. For the principal player, and now president Charles Taylor, it was a determination to put up a challenge to the claim of the late president Samuel Doe, who had said that there was no - man enough in Liberia to put any claim to the presidency. Though Samuel Doe was found wanting, especially when the chips came falling down, his demise did not end the destructive competition to wrestle power by greedy men.

Eventually Doe became victim of his own making, and ended up as a sacrificial lamb so that the trouble in Liberia could end. His inglorious exit from the Liberian political scene came at a painful time in the annals of the nation. His torturer, Gen. Prince Yormie Johnson applied all the available horrible means to ensure that even if Samuel Doe were to return to this world again, which I doubt, he would think twice at any suggestion to overthrow any government. Perhaps, Samuel Doe learned his lesson the hard way.

While Samuel Doe and the heads of the former rebel organizations, such as NPFL, Ulimo-K, Ulimo-J, Lofa Defense Force, LPC, INPFL, AFL, have all been identified as perpetrators of the Liberian horror, we need not forget that they were stubbornly supported by certain politicians, whose roles should not be overlooked. That is, they also share equal responsibility for the crimes against the Liberian people.

While the warlords have often been blamed for the Liberian civil war, some civilian politicians must be held accountable as well, insofar as their open support and connivance in aiding and abetting the war effort; and in some case, their deafing silence for their lack of outspokeness against the horrendous crimes that were committed against innocent people.

Admittedly, politicians appear to demonstrate the same expedient qualities of a prostitute. That is, a prostitute is ever ready to make a commitment to any available client. Take for example, Lofa County senator, Kekura B. Kpoto. It may appear somehow an unnecessary venture to attempt to understand this so-called political maverick and perennial politician. As far as the political pendulum is concerned, Mr. Kpoto is one individual in the Liberian political theater who subscribes to the belief that "if you can't beat him, join him." You will recall with some amount of certainty that long before the results of the 1985 rigged elections that ensured that the late Samuel Doe remain in power were announced, Mr. Kpoto had saturated the length and breadth of Liberia with declarations such as: "WHO DO WE WANT? (DOE), WHO DO WE HAVE? (DOE), WHO WOULD WE HAVE? (DOE)." Sadly, as it became evident, none of the contesting candidates had the equal opportunity through the government-controlled media for such public relations work.

At the time, though, Mr. Kpoto did not realize that such outward demonstrations of adoration on a political field that was not evidently level for all sides, was inimical to the professed democratic expression that was being exercised in the country. It can be generally argued that the likes of Mr. Kpoto have a flawed perception of true democracy. Nonetheless, such people find nothing amiss about their lopsided understanding of politics.

Ironically, it was an apparent joke when Mr. Kpoto returned from refuge to announce to Liberians that the marathon senseless war was due to the neglect of our ancestors in the great beyond. He, therefore, made a novel proposition: a national celebration to appease the dead to halt the violence, and grant us peace. Using the dead as scapegoats, Mr. Kpoto and many others slaughtered cows, goats, sheep, etc. at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium, amid drumming and dancing. In his mind the living, who were responsible with the action of violence, were being led by the dead. He consequently passed on responsibility for the mayhem to others.

It is of interest to note that Mr. Kpoto was among those who pampered, and encouraged the late Doe in power. Sadly, when Doe had to choose between life and death, the likes of Kpoto were not around to help him decide his future. As a result, Samuel Doe made a fatal decision to "fight till the last man" -and eventually was captured and dismembered by his enemies.

Mr. Kpoto may have regretted abandoning Samuel Doe in the end. But that is how the Kpotos and others play the political game. Now that the dust of violence has settled in Liberia, Mr. Kpoto is back, and with the current government. Remember, "If you can't beat them, join them," - the likes of Kpoto should, however, realize that they are equally responsible for the crimes committed against the Liberian people. So, when the day of reckoning comes, they may be called upon for some explanation. Until that time, let those who can't "beat them, join them.".