The Need For Change In Liberia - My Observations

By Justice Chea Cheapoo

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted May 8, 2002

About three weeks ago, I was compelled to write an open letter to ECOWAS through its Secretary General, Dr M. I. Chambas, only to let that honorable body know that Liberians are unhappy about the way and manner ECOWAS handles the Liberian crisis. Let me tell you some of the things that were at the back of my mind when I wrote ECOWAS:

These were some of the things that were at the back of my mind when I wrote Dr. Chambas for ECOWAS, saying that they should cease and desist from further making decisions about Liberia over the heads of its citizens. Taylor is the problem in Liberia! Here is a man who has brought an unprecedented war on his fellow countrymen because he wanted to be president. He was allowed to assume the office but has proven not to be up to the task. Yet, he is bent on perpetuating himself in power at all costs.

Now, a word to Liberians in tears for their country, the reasons why ECOWAS has been able to manipulate Liberia in this fashion is simply because Liberians have not learned to decide their own destiny and the future of their country. In matters of serious national concerns the average Liberian usually acts first before he even thinks. For instance, “you kill my pa and you kill my ma, I will still vote for you” is an unprecedented and thoughtless political slogan that any thinking person will ascribe to in a war-torn country. The killer of their parents they voted for is now in power; this time he is killing those who voted for him. What do you want Liberian politicians to do? You rewarded Taylor for his crimes against the Liberian nation and people.

However, I do know that Liberia is a nation of wise people capable of learning from their mistakes; this is why I have taken the awesome responsibility to state these facts as they are for the sake of our beloved nation.

There is a clarion call by some Liberians that opposition politicians should unite in order to rid Liberia of Taylor. My comment is that there may be a prevailing complacency on the part of Liberian opinion leaders in politics, but there is a reason for that. Those who are alleging complacency should investigate why the once very active and vocal politicians of Liberia now appear to be silent amidst an unprecedented and copious dictatorship. However, since many have expressed concerns on this matter, here are my comments:

The political agitation of the 70’s involving PAL, MOJA, and even the TWP Youth Wing was geared towards reverting Liberia to multiparty democracy as provided in the Constitution and laws of Liberia. Prior to the Tubman Administration, Liberia had always been a multiparty state. The idea of a multiparty democracy is to fully grant the electorate the right and freedom to choose among several candidates in any democratic election. The progressive movements in Liberia were able to achieve having elections with more than one party during President Doe’s Administration. However, the pace of political and economic change, coupled with the political consciousness of the masses as well as the response of political leaders in addressing these factors was slow. Accordingly, there was a need for the rise of new parties to effectively respond to this slow pace during the 1997 elections. Should we have gone back to one party- state just because we were faced with Taylor, an unscrupulous candidate? Emphatically no. I strongly believe that the constitutional and democratic process of multiparty elections should continue unabated. Liberians should be accorded the right to choose their leader. This is what we fought for, this is what we have achieved under our laws and this is what we should have. If the Liberian people feel they have erred in choosing a rebel leader as their president, they have the sovereign power and political opportunities to correct the situation at any time they wish. This should not be left to the undertaking of a few so-called politicians. Neither does it warrant reverting to one party state by uniting all politicians with divergent political leanings and views, a strong impossibility.

Moreover, I have the feeling that the persistent call for unity of opposition politicians against Taylor by some citizens is indeed a search for national leadership. The search for national leadership in a democratic society involves the readiness and the will of the people to participate in a national debate in developing a national agenda, which they will support, politically and financially because it is their national plan. Here, I suggest that we have undertaken a sustained national debate and that a consensus has developed that there is a need for replacement in our national leadership. The final step, I further suggest, is to organize politically and raise funds to implement that national agenda. I strongly believe that if, the majority of Liberians are truly committed to this national agenda, there should not be any stumbling blocks in organizing and raising funds. As for my house and me we are willing to work with any one equally willing, ready and able to organize and raise funds to bring about the necessary change in leadership in Liberia, which is long overdue.

I am not a candidate for the presidency, but I am willing to help save my country as I have tried to do before.

About the Author: Justice Chea Cheapoo was a Justice Minister of Liberia during the Samuel K. Doe regime. During the 1997 elections in Liberia, he was presidential candidate for the Progressive People's Party.

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