Did Cyril Allen Really Call On Ex-Combatants?

By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)

As human beings, it is impossible to be two or three places at the same time. In fact, a principle in science, ‘impenetrability” states in a simple term that “two matters cannot occupy the same space at the time.” And truly to this, it is impossible to monitor two radio stations at the same time with equal listening attention. This is why normally one will always focus on a particular station at one time and may later tune to another station at another time, in an effort to get people’s views on issues of national concerns, as these stations feature different guests and panelists on particular topics, all geared towards moving Liberian forward.

Frankly, this is what usually happens in the morning as I try to listen to the early morning programs of some of the radio stations before going to work, because I have observed and continue observe that some of these programs provide clues or possible major stories for the next day publication, in that some of these talk shows feature opinion leaders whose responsible and mature comments on issues deserve publication.

As usual, while listening to the Truth Breakfast Show yesterday morning, I was shocked to learn that the former Chairman of the former ruling party- the National Patriotic Party of (NPP), Mr. Cyril Allen, who sometimes is referred to as “’Chief Allen,” for reasons I do not know, in exercising his rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press the country enjoys now, called on President Sirleaf to resign, and allow Vice President Joseph Boakai to end her term as President. What was more nauseating is his reported comment that he called on all “former combatants” and political parties to join him in his effort.

But thank God that Mamade Diakite, the main host of the program dealt with the issue decisively, mostly as it relates to violence. Additionally, let me thank the Chairman of the NPP, big brother Cllr. T.C. Gould for the way he dissociated the party from its former chairman’s assertion, after the host of the program called him by mobile phone to get the party’s reaction on the matter.

Unsurprisingly, his comment formed the major headline in yesterday’s edition of the FRONTPAGE newspaper of Mr. Rodney Sieh, with the headline: “CALL FOR ELLEN’S RESIGNATION.”  In its lead (first paragraph), the paper said, “The former Chairman of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Party is demanding the resignation of Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. In a rally cry Tuesday, Allen made a passionate call for Ex-combatants and political parties to join his appeal which calls for Vice President Joe Boakai to finish the President’s second term…”

In all fairness, Mr. Allen is not the first person calling for the resignation of President Sirleaf. I have heard this song many times. But my main concern is the call by the former chairman for former combatants to join him in his efforts to have the President to resign. Collectively, we  all have agreed to put the past behind, not meaning that we should forget, to avoid us repeating the same mistakes,  but when certain individuals, like Mr. Allen, a former associate of the defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL)  want to take us back to the ugly past, then, there is reason for concern.

Why would someone like Allen want to get these former combatants in such a matter, when the Liberian Constitution is succinctly clear on such a matter? By threatening to call former combatants, is tantamount to doing things outside the law. If Allen feels that the President has done something unconstitutionally, why not resort to the very constitution. Or if he feels that she has not lived up to expectation, why doesn’t him wait for elections to make a decision?

Perhaps Mr. Allen and his likes did not really experience the agony caused by the conflict or that they did not suffer the humiliation and unimaginable treatment meted out against peaceful citizens by these former combatants he intends to invite to join him in his campaign to have the President resign, for the vice President to take over.

Maybe, Mr. Allen, who was one of the decision makers of the defunct NPFL, did not experience this because of his status as he was well protected, unlike other citizens who were vulnerable because they did not enjoy the kind of protection Mr. Allen and others enjoyed during the years of conflict, for which they were insulated from the kind of treatment others suffered at the heads of these former combatants.

I have decided to comment on this issue because it involves Mr. Allen, one of many Liberians that I respect. If this was said by someone other than Mr. Allen, I would not have taken the liberty to comment. On this issue, I beg to differ with him by trying to involve former combatants, who we as a people and nation had disarmed, demobilized and presumably rehabilitated.

For me, it is disheartening that some individuals want to take us back to the ugly past where there were deaths, starvation, mayhem, looting, destruction, pillage and egregious violations of the basic` and fundamental rights of people. I hate to refer to that period because it was also a time that “might makes right;” anarchy replaced law and order. In fact, because of what transpired during those days, we have resolved to forgive, not to forget those inhumane things that were perpetrated.

I end by saying that brother Allen did not really see or feel the activities of former combatants who he is talking about because as it is said, “Seeing is believing.” Brother Allen, sorry, you did not see what other Liberians saw because you were well protected, because anyone who saw what this country went through or experienced during those days, would not make such assertion.

To the “brother,” as they who were in the progressives in the 80’s were affectionately called,  I say, I respect his rights to speak out, but disagree with the method he wants or intends to use or employ to express his grievances. I Rest My Case, with due respect to this “comrade,” as thje latins would say, “Errare humanum est” (to err is human,”) so be it. I rest my case.

 

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