- West Africa
- Conflicts - Justice - Governance
Liberia: Africa’s first female President, Johnson-Sirleaf, a former warlord?
Liberian president, Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf faces a 30-year ban from political affairs for her role in former warlord Charles Taylor’s rebellion, 20 years ago. The ban has been proposed by Liberia’s truth and reconciliation commission five months after the president admitted that she had believed Mr. Taylor’s rebellion against military ruler Samuel Doe in the late 1980s was necessary.
According to the report issued by the panel investigating Liberia’s civil wars (1989-2003) President Sirleaf is one of the many people who financed and led the different warring factions that destabilized the country. "They (those named) should be banned from occupying public office for 30 years beginning the day of the passage of the report at the parliament," the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) report is quoted as saying.
President Sirleaf is reported to have participated in at least two rebel movements; Charles Taylor’s attempt to overthrow President Samuel Doe in 1989, and Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) invasion to oust Charles Taylor a decade later: The truth and reconciliation commission claims to be condemning these actions. The killing of Mr. Doe in 1990, sparked more than a decade of violence between warring factions in which about 250,000 people were killed and the country left in ruins.
The ban proposal could become law if Liberian parliament decides. President Sirleaf who is Africa’s first elected female leader in February told the truth panel she had met Taylor several times during Liberia’s successive conflicts and had also collected funds for him while he was preparing to oust Doe in the 1980s. After admitting to the commission of her involvement with Taylor, President Sirleaf apologized and said she had been deceived into supporting him, adding: "I feel it in my conscience. I feel it every day."
President Sirleaf has however refused to comment on the reports indicting her and proposing a possible ban from public office. The president was at the African Union summit in Libya when the report was released and her spokesperson, Cyrus Badio, has described the decision as surprising."Of course it will come as a surprise to her (Sirleaf) but let’s reserve judgment until she has read through the report," Badio is quoted.