Ivoirians’ Request & Liberia’s Diplomatic Blunders
When one reads news reports that unknown gunmen have killed close to a dozen Ivorian soldiers in Abidjan two days in a row, and then hears that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is sending accused Liberians to that country to be tried there for alleged involvement in the June 8, 2012 murder of Niger's U.N. Peacekeepers, one wonders where Liberia is heading.
With the latest gun violence in Abidjan, how sure are we that the killings of the Niger U.N. Peacekeepers were the work of freelance Liberian gunmen or former fighters? How? And why did the Ivorian authorities blame other recent armed attacks on displaced camps that followed the murder of the U.N. troops on bandits moving around their country and not Liberians?
What are the facts and evidence the Ivoirians have to substantiate their claims? Now what can they say of these latest incidents in their capital, Abidjan? Were those acts carried out by Liberians? Why not?
In the absence of evidence, is there a way to tell the difference between attacks by Liberian gunmen and those of Ivorian bandits or disgruntled military personnel?
If the answer is no, why then our government succumbed to the Ivoirians in this case?
Why is it that our government is quick to take responsibility of international crimes thereby incriminating its own citizens in questionable situations that require thorough investigation?
Who is the Liberian Government trying to appease or impress? Where are the so-called advisers, the Sawyers, the Tipotehs and the Fanbullehs and so on?
The "Iron Lady" is no longer the "Iron Lady" Liberians knew in the 80s, the same “Iron Lady,” who is also on record for not uttering a word when she worked for and supported a regime that segregated local native majority before a 1980 military coup, which changed the course of history.
Today, it seems the proverbial "Iron Lady" has become the "Weakest Lady." Not only that, she is fast earning a spot in world diplomacy as the "Begging Queen" thereby bringing endless shame to Liberians everywhere. She is quick to get on her knees and beg without knowing the facts of the matter. Could this behavior have something to do with her frail age?
This is purely poor diplomacy at its best! And my fear is that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf action may serve as very bad precedent for Liberian women, something that may discourage Liberians from electing another woman-president in the future if nothing is done to correct her diplomatic blunders.
Take for example, the rape case against four Liberian refugee children few years ago in the state of Arizona that made world headlines. Ellen Johnson immediately started begging the Americans even before investigations were concluded in the case. It didn't end there, she sent a high ranking official from the Liberian Mission in Washington DC to Phoenix, AZ to make an apology.
Up till now, many Liberians in Phoenix, AZ are still baffled by how the alleged rape case against the Liberian children was treated. Many Liberians in Arizona still think that certain things about the rape case weren’t right. They complained that first the alleged rape case was heavily overshadowed by media publicity, which they believed may have played a role for ruling handed down in that case. Secondly, it was one of those rare cases or perhaps the first time where underage children, (all Liberian refugees) were paraded on American national television including the CNN in total disregard to age and other privacy rights.
As a student attending college in Phoenix, AZ at the time of the incident, several dailies contacted me for interview in the alleged rape case especially to offer a cultural perspective but I declined for personal reasons. From that experience, I now know how public opinion as well as cultural and language barriers can affect legal proceedings outside of our homeland. As a result, today, some of us don't know for sure the truth as to what exactly transpired that led to the arrest of the Liberian children. But yet the begging queen, President Johnson Sirleaf admitted quilt by her early apology on behalf of Liberia.
About a year ago, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf again compromised the fate of several Liberian refugees killed by Ghanaian police who stormed the Liberian refugee camp at Gomoa Buduborrum and opened fire on Liberian refugees following an incident involving the refugees. In providing justification for their action, the Ghanaian police alleged Liberian refugees created the situation which prompted their ruthless action leaving several refugees dead.
Once the accusation was leveled, again, our leader, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf didn't care to know the details or the rest of the story but anyhow went on to offer an apology instead having those who murdered our citizens to do so. So when and where does the interest of Liberia matter?
From all indication, the incident involving the killings of some of Niger’s peacekeepers in the Ivory Coast months ago was just again one of those vague situations where the Liberian Government had enough room to argue her case since in fact the location of the attack is infested with various militia groups and seemingly a no man’s land.
Unlike Liberian Government that doesn’t care for its citizens let alone maintain territorial control of her country, the Ivoirians staged counterattacks against Liberian villages along the Liberia-Ivory Coast border and their maneuvers were videotaped and beamed via the worldwide web for all to view.
Long live the Ivory Coast for defending her people whether right or wrong. Long live the people of Ivory Coast. They have truly proven to be an independent country.
So, where Madam President are you coming from with this apology culture? Why apologize when there is neither solid proof nor surety that Liberians are guilty of the crimes being leveled against citizens.
In world politics, when last did you Madam President see any of the great countries of the world publically or privately apologize on behalf of their respective armies regarding civilians casualties in air strikes attributed to their men even in the face of glaring evidence?
Where is Liberian diplomacy?
I am yet to understand the logic or legal ramifications on extradition treaties involving Liberia and the Ivory Coast because, if for example the United States for some reasons couldn't send a Liberian citizen Mr. Charles Taylor to face trial at home, why then should our president be so excited about sending a Liberian citizens to a French speaking country to face trial there when in fact the French judiciary system may be different from those of English or ours modeled after those of America?
If your act of sending “accused” Liberians to a war torn country like the Ivory Coast, which is no doubt the main source of our 14-year- civil war to face prosecution isn’t a pure act of conspiracy to sell out your own people, what then should Liberians call it?
Isn’t it shameful and embarrassing that the commander in chief has been reduced to a bagging queen while Guinean troops take chunks of land from Liberia along the Yeala-Guinean border, the same way the Guinean Government has seized the Makona River in Foya, Lofa County and continues to encroach on Sierra Leonean territories?
Madam President, the trouble in the Ivory Coast, though far from over, isn’t something that calls for a quick fix nor will it disappear by your issuing of countless apologies. The Ivoirians are the root cause for their own problems we see today and everyone including you, Pres. Sirleaf, one of the sponsors of Liberia’s war knows this fact. Therefore, Liberia and Liberians can’t be held responsible for the unfortunate predicament facing Ivoirians.
The Ivoirians have a very complicated situation at hand more than what people think and with numerous loose rebel units in search of loots coupled with the level of armed violence taking place daily in that country, it certainly may take years before any legitimate government can take full control of the country. That may be possible through reconciliation and the extension of whatever wealth and blessings the country may have to other parts of the country. Until then, it is foolhardy for anyone to be claiming sole responsibility of every incident taking place in the Ivory Coast; after all, they brought trouble upon themselves and not Liberians.
So, Madam President, we urge you not to give in to any extradition treaty in this case involving the Ivory Coast. Let our “accused” citizens be trialed in Liberia and if found guilty, let them face the requisite punishments at home for there is no guarantee that our citizens with receive a fair trial there.