Former Liberian Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai has overwhelmingly expressed to the establishment of a war crimes court for Liberia in order to hold accountable perpetrators of alleged gross human rights violations and war crimes during the country’s 14-year civil war.
He said although he has always wanted a truth and reconciliation commission, a war crimes court will make those who committed crimes to account for same.
“My intention to this country was that we would go the path of the South Africans, where they chose reconciliation. But I have come to learn that impunity, when people do things wrong and they never repent, it would appear that other people would begin to imitate them,” Boakai said.
Liberia has been given many years so that individuals who perpetrated mayhem during the war that took away the lives of approximately 250,000 people would be remorseful and consciously begin to do good things, said Boakai, adding, “But instead, some of the people still want to lord it over the people. So perhaps they need to come and justify their case. So if it is a war crimes court that will do that, I will support it.”
The former Vice President’s endorsement of the establishment of a war crimes court for Liberia adds up to many others previously made by both local and international anti-war crimes advocates.
Added to many street protests in support of the setting up of a war crimes court for the country both at home and abroad, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed resolution H. Res. 1055 to reaffirm strong U.S.-Liberia ties and call for full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations, and to set up an extra tribunal to try those bearing greater responsibility for the country’s civil war.
Asked about his opinion on issues of corruption engulfing the Weah administration, the former Vice President expressed dissatisfaction, stating that “I think when the people make a decision to elect a president, they do so with expectations.”
He said: “This life here, we all say God brought us to leadership. But we also have to know that leadership carries responsibility. Responsibility to the people, and that we would wishes that people who come to position come to position, come there with the intent to better the condition of the people.”
He continued, “So once these kinds of things surface, people owe it to the public to explain what has happened and to be able to remedy that situation. Because every dime that escapes from the people retard development.”
Former Vice President Boakai’s assertions against corruption come when the Weah-led government is entangled in alarming corruption sagas, including the reported disappearance of containers containing bags of billions of dollars in Liberian currency, an unaccounted for US$25 million intended to mop out from the economy the surplus Liberian dollars in a bid to stabilize the declining value of the local currency against the U.S. dollars, as well as the recent graft scandal at the National Housing Authority.
Boakai pointed out that there is a need for the fight against corruption under the Weah-led government to be pursued more seriously.
Howbeit, former VP Boakai says he’s available to give his expertise to the Weah-led government if he’s called upon to do so.
“So for me, piece of advice, anything – but I am not going to impose on anybody – whatever that you ask me to do, I will always promise you that I will give you the best in the interest of our country,” he said.
“When I turned over the office of the Vice President to Vice President Taylor, we turned that office [over] intact. Everything; unexpended budget, and she even inherited some of our staff to guide her through, Bokai said.
He explained that the rationale behind such transparent turn-over to his successor was to send a message that he was not there to set trap for anybody, but that his intent was for the country to move in the direction that is supposed to benefit the people.
‘Statesman not politician’
Quizzed over rumor that he still has his eyes on the presidency, former Vice President Boakia, who lost to current president George Weah in a run-off poll in 2017, said as head of the immediate past ruling party, the Unity Party (UP), “right now my attention is to provide those services and help people to be able to improve their lives. In fact, what I’m doing is to actually buttress government’s efforts.
“I am not going to talk about presidency, I’m going to talk about leadership,” said former Veep Boakai, adding, I’ve said over and again, that’s something that I’ve learned, politicians do things for the next elections, statesmen do things for the next generation. My interest is in the next generation.”