Taylor's Resignation Or Impeachment Will Save Liberia
By Christopher Z. Neyor
August 7, 2000

Reports of the situation in Lofa indicate that the confrontation is a serious one, a situation that is very unfortunate for Liberia and its people. Even if this new and apparently more deadly uprising (the third since the Taylor presidency) is brought under control by government forces, another gunfight might likely erupt again, be it in Lofa or elsewhere. There is an abundance of confirmed reports that government officials pursue self-aggrandizement, and that whereas government expenditure on automobiles and select programs provide evidence of wealth in Liberia, the general report is that too many Liberians are dirt poor. This narrow distribution of wealth shows that the government lacks a genuine compassion for its people. When the schools, universities, health service, food supply and the opportunity to improve one's lot are lacking, the country brings itself into international disrepute, and the roots of instability are planted.

It appears a significant number of Liberians agree that there is an ongoing mismanagement of the country, but they are split primarily into two schools of thought on a corrective course of action. There are those who want to utilize violence to effect a necessary change and then those who maintain that the ballot box is the safest route to take. I do not believe the ONLY two means to effect change in Liberia is either through the use of guns or the ballot box. We are in a ship where the captain (the president in this case) is reckless and pursuing a course that could drown all of us. A mutiny might do equal or worse damage and being patient for the next port of call (elections) is not a viable option because we might all be dead or the ship could be of no further use when we reach that point. This is the situation we find ourselves in and our constitution has a prescription for peaceful resolution of such national crisis-impeachment and removal of the president from office.

I believe the most prudent course of action to avert further bloodshed and chart a new course for national healing and reconstruction in Liberia is the following: 1) that president Charles Taylor resigns the presidency for his own good and that of the country; or 2) he be impeached and removed from office by the National Legislature in keeping with the constitution.

There is a mountain of evidence for this needed constitutional action. Mr. Taylor stands in violation of the Liberian constitution on several fronts and has demonstrated his incompetence at reconciling and moving the country forward. He is an obstacle to peace and stability in the region and a hindrance to post war economic assistance to our country and people. We do not want another war neither should we stand by idly while the country degenerates into economic and social decay that would take a century to resuscitate.

Should Mr. Taylor refuse to leave, then the only remaining alternative to another civil conflict would be his impeachment and removal from office in keeping with the constitution of Liberia. The real test of our democracy is not to wait for the next elections while the ship of state sinks but to evoke a constitutional provision to avoid a national calamity. If the legislature cannot take this redeeming action to impeach and remove Mr. Taylor from office in the wake of substantive reasons to do so, then real democracy is not yet born in Liberia. In order to preserve democracy, if it exists, as an alternative to war is not necessarily to keep Mr. Taylor in power while the country goes further into ruin but for us as patriotic Liberians to advocate the constitutional course to have him removed from office.

I agree with Dr. Dakinah that bloodshed is not the answer to the economic and political mess Liberia is in and we must begin to make our position clear to Mr. Taylor and the Liberian Senate. Through this open paper, I'm making it known to Mr. Taylor, our lawmakers and all our people where I stand. I call on all my fellow countrymen to join in a petition drive calling for President Taylor's resignation or his impeachment and removal from office.

There are those who believe in a strong presidency mentality, who feel the departure of Mr. Taylor from the political scene would create a vacuum. To the contrary, I believe we already have a vacuum of political ineptitude and economic decline. Moreover, the strength of presidential power should not be calculated on the outdated Machiavellian and African strongman concept. What we need in the presidency is not the strength of a tyrant but the strength of character, the strength of patriotism, the strength of compassion for your people, the strength of trust and confidence from the international community.

The kind of democracy we seek is one in which our loyalty and that of the armed forces is not to an individual occupying the presidency but to the state and the people. At some point we must make that clear distinction between what is good for an individual and what is good ultimately for the country. Yes, the president should be extended all due respect and courtesy but he must not be treated as a demigod who stands above the state.

I hope Mr. Taylor and/or the National Legislature would have the courage to do the right thing and save our country from an irreversible collapse. Let us all pray and do something for a smooth political transition in our dying country. Remember "it is better to light a single candle than to curse the dark" or sit on the fence.

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