And so began the charade
By Abdoulaye W. Dukule
January 17, 2002
All of a sudden, it downed on Taylor and his acolytes in Monrovia that time has elapsed and that 2003 is just around the corner. Since 1997, after the special elections that brought it to power, the NPFL government went to sleep on its glory, feeding itself with the arrogance that stupidity gives to ignorant people. After 5 years of lies, violence, deceit, theft, rape and murder, the gang suddenly woke up to the reality of the passing of time. The NPFL boys and girls and their patron realized that, indeed, they would have to confront the electorate to maintain itself in power.
A country of great, noble and peaceful people finds itself tramped on by a gang of immoral individuals and hoodlums. They use the same tactics they used when they lived in the bush. They make promises. Then they break the promises and after that, they threaten to kill anyone who dare remind them of their promises.
No need here to remind ourselves the many promises made by Taylor before elections. First, in Gbarnga, he used to say that he had enough money to rebuild Liberia on his own. Never mind where he got that money. When he entered Monrovia he promised light and water. It was his NPFL that cut down the power lines throughout the country. It was the NPFL that threw rockets in the hydro plant and it was the same NPFL that brought down the transformers from the light poles. It was the NPFL that used books and magazines at the University library for fire and toilet paper while they tried to capture the Executive Mansion from Samuel Doe. Now after 5 years in power, Taylor wakes up and says that he never promised any such thing. In the 1990s, Taylor had commissioned an architectural model of Greater Gbarnga that sat in the hall of his "Executive Mansion." The model was a representation of what Gbarnga would look like once "pappy" reached the Mansion in Monrovia. There were highways, parks, high rises and airports. Fighters used to assemble around the model and marvel at what their dusty country town would look like and that fueled their hatred for the Interim Government that was stopping the "pappy" from realizing his dream.
An assembly of thugs will be but an assembly of thugs. After the lies, the broken promises, comes the third stage, the threat. The master of Taylorland said he would "arrest anyone who comes with a dual-citizenship and try to meddle in Liberian politics." He goes on to say that no international organization would be allowed to supervise the elections, evoking national sovereignty. In the same breath, he promises to live by the constitution, to allow freedom of speech and free press. He calls himself a "constitutional animal". As creative as usual, the people in Monrovia deleted the first part of that phrase.
In the past three weeks, everything that was said and done in Monrovia by the government points in the direction of panic, fear and paranoia. The realization that Liberian people now have nothing to lose by voting him out of office has turned Taylor into a trapped animal. He sent his cronies to the US to find "proofs" and on the media to set the stage for his divagations. He has also come to the realizations that Liberians, both at home and abroad have reached the point of no return and would throw him out. Things cannot get any worse than they are now. Therefore, he starts ranting, vociferating insults and threats to anyone who dared to shake the bush around him. His launches an indirect attack on the "international community", when he says no country, no matter how big will impose its will on Liberia. This is his usual way of entering negotiations.
Now he is sitting in his Mansion, with his valets running errands around him, bringing into his coffers the few dollars they collect from Lebanese merchants and other state owned corporations. He shakes and spends sleepless nights in his many beds. He is awaiting a reaction from the people he attacked. Would the international community start begging him to allow observers to supervise the 2003 presidential elections? He is awaiting a reaction from other Liberians to negotiate with him to allow them to contest the elections.
What proof does the president have that any of the potential candidates acquired a second citizenship? If this was the case, what does the constitution say about that? Who is supposed to take care of such matters? Is the President playing the role of the Supreme Court, the Elections Commission and other law enforcement agencies? The man has been the judge, jury and executioner, at times by proxy. So, what else is new?
Besides the citizenship issue, there is another threat propping up. This is about those in Monrovia supposedly supporting dissidents in Lofa. The government and its head-thugs are talking about coming out with the names of people in Monrovia supporting the war in Lofa. They threatened to seize their bank accounts and their properties. Another witch-hunt is on its way. After the Krahns and Mandingoes and opposition political leaders, the NPFL is now ready to attack the business community. Anyone who has a sizeable amount of money in the bank could be the target. The NPFL is in a state of desperation and will do anything to get attention, including bringing harm to more innocent people. Once they get the attention they want, they will then organize some type of foolish elections and win. And the charade will continue. There is so much pain and grief one man can cause to a nation and get away with it. There is so much compromise a people can make to satisfy one person's greed. There is a limit to how far a government can go on, disregarding the welfare of its citizens.
Liberians do not really need international observers to conduct elections. There is so must the international community can do. The travel ban that prevents Taylor and any significant member of his government from traveling, the sanctions on Liberian diamonds and the war crimes tribunal in Sierra Leone are all signals from the international community that it does not want to deal with Taylor. Short of overthrowing the government, there is not much anyone else beside Liberians themselves can do. The end of the tyranny depends of how strongly Liberians want to regain control of their national destiny.
Taylor and his thugs know they cannot win free and fair elections and therefore will fight to stay in power. Besides being in power, there seems to be no other alternative but death or prison, because someone has to answer for the crimes committed by the NPFL. Taylor knows this and he will die trying to stay alive and in power. Liberians must brace themselves for a fight. There are thousands of killers who depend on Taylor for their daily bread and they will fight to keep him in power. The road to national dignity will be paved with more pain. The dreams about democracy, development, human rights must give precedence to the removal of the roadblock from power.
Taylor worries himself uselessly about how his downfall would come. Ayatollah Khomeini sent audiotapes of his speeches into Iran in 1979 and this ended the powerful regime of the Shah. This may explain why the voice of former Senator Brumskine on the radio created so much panic in Monrovia.