Fear, Illiteracy & Ignorance Propelled Taylor To Victory

By Omari Jackson

Of the several possible means that ex-warlord Charles Taylor's attempt to become president of Liberia might have ended, his apparent landslide victory is perhaps the most surprising! It's remarkable, of course. The fact that the overwhelming majority, about 75%, voted for him in the recent presidential elections, confirms the prevalent of fear, illiteracy and ignorance which have held Liberians in bondage. Voting the ex-warlord into power will reduce, if not eliminate, the danger of terrorism that has plagued Liberia in particular, and west Africa in general. Mr. Taylor's victory, somehow, lifts a suffocating veil of uncertainty over the sub-region.

Yet, a good number of thought provoking questions demand answers. What will be the fate of his die-hard enemies, like Gen. Roosevelt Johnson, who humiliated him in military combat? What will be the reaction of his "enemy" Field Marshal Prince Y. Johnson? Will his traditional enemies, the Krahns, be able to reconcile their differences, and be willing subjects of the state?

Taylor's victory also denies hard core political activists the opportunity to pressure the international community to bring him and others to face justice, for crimes against humanity. For example, during the administration of the first interim president Amos C. Sawyer, it became necessary for the introduction of a new five-dollar note, commonly called "Liberty" to replace the previous J. J. Roberts-five-dollar-note. Why? Because rebel and government soldiers broke into the various banks in Monrovia and helped themselves to the money. That action by the IGNU was denounced by Mr. Taylor.

What moral justification can the current president of Liberia, now provide for such actions of barbarism against the people he now rules over?

He pronounced it a "treasonable" offense for anyone caught with the money by the NPFL forces. Sadly, his trigger-happy soldiers of fortune used his pronouncement against the then Monrovia-based government, and many, many Liberians were sent to their early graves (murdered) by the NPFL. Like Pol Pot of Cambodia, his forces raped, maimed, and murdered all those found with the money. What moral justification can the current president of Liberia, now provide for such actions of barbarism against the people he now rules over? To the degree that there is any standard model for such barbarism, the current president's forces, stood along the lines of the madness in Bosnia and the nonsense in Rwanda.

In that respect, his opponents would argue that putting him on trial could have helped provide the many reasons why his men went beyond expectation. we need to know why his forces raped our sisters, daughters, and why he turned our youths into terrorists. These questions would also be directed at all those who lost their sense of direction to organize terrorists to kill our people.

Also, the apparent "double-standard" of the international community should not be overlooked. The barbarism in Bosnia and that of Liberia, and elsewhere share common characteristics. Therefore, one wonders how could the bandits in Bosnia face the international court of justice, while their counterparts in Liberia jubilate in their actions, and even being rewarded with the nation's highest office. Perhaps, the nuisance in Liberia deserves any kind of demise. It is an irony in all its characteristics!

Finally, a critic of the recent elections is needed. How did the other 12 candidates reason that they could win Liberians' confidence? Did they forget that the ex-warlord acquired huge sums of money in foreign banks in Burkina Faso and elsewhere for the years of illegal occupation of central Liberia? Did they not realize that ignorance, fear and illiteracy were the fundamental principles of the elections considered "free and fair" in Liberia?

At worst we can ask those questions, and answer them, and learn from them. Taylor, meanwhile, must enjoy his victory - the mandate of (some) of the people (some he murdered), with a sense of fear and sorrow that will continue to haunt him.