Gabriel I.H. Williams

Warlords Warned to Desist from Threating to Disrupt the Peace Over Establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court

Sacramento, CA, USA March 9, 2024:  Two former leaders of Press Union of Liberia (PUL) resident in the United States are warning former Liberian warlords to immediately desist from making threatening statements that have the propensity to disrupt the peace and stability of post-war Liberia.

In a press statement issued over the weekend, Messrs. Emmanuel D. Abalo and Gabriel I.H. Williams said they are alarmed by recent threats made by ex-warlords Prince Y. Johnson and Thomas Yaya Nimely to disrupt Liberia’s hard-earned peace and stability. The ex-warlords, who are members of the upper chamber of Liberia’s National Legislature, the Senate, along with a criminal few, have escalated their threats to destabilize the country, following the passage of a resolution in the lower chamber of the Legislature, the House of Representatives, for the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court (WECC) in Liberia.

The adoption of the resolution by the House on March 5, 2024, signifies a watershed moment to bring about justice, accountability, and reconciliation in Liberia, which has been ravaged by decades of civil upheavals, rampant corruption, and gross abuse of power.

It is considering these developments that we draw attention to threats that have been made by Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson, a former warlord who has been accused of killings and other unspeakable acts of human rights abuse during Liberia’s civil war. Let it be made clear to Senator Johnson and his so-called “ex-generals from the civil war” that the era of impunity is over, and the rule of law must prevail.

We call on the people of Nimba County, especially the young people, to stay away from Prince Johnson’s drumbeat that the Nimba people would defend him by force if attempts were made to arrest him.

A similar warning is also being issued to Grand Gedeh County Senator Thomas Yaya Nimely, who is a former warlord and accused economic criminal, that anyone who threatens to destabilize Libera will face the full consequences under Liberian and international laws.  We are calling on the people of Grand Gedeh, especially the young people, that they have nothing to gain and everything to lose by following warlords who have brought death and destruction upon our country for self-aggrandizement.

We applaud the House of Representatives for the passage of the resolution to establish the WECC. This demonstrates the commitment of the new Liberian government to address the atrocities committed during the 14-year civil war which cost the lives of more than a quarter million people, as well as the looting of the national resources, to ensure that those responsible for war and economic crimes are held accountable. It represents hope for victims and survivors, signaling that their voices have been heard and that justice will prevail. It also sends a very clear signal to those who come to power or occupy government positions in Liberia that they would be held accountable for stealing public resources and other acts of abuse of public trust.

We also applaud President Joseph N. Boakai for the audacious move to wrest the country from the grasps of murderous criminals, corrupt elements, misfits and their backers, who have placed a stranglehold on the country’s progress, while Liberians suffer unbearable hardship and poverty. The new government’s momentum to establish the WECC is an indication that the “Rescue Mission” has truly begun to rescue the Liberian people from those who have destroyed lives and looted Liberia’s resources. President Boakai must now be more proactive in lobbying individual members of the Senate to ensure concurrence with the House resolution.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, J. Fonati Koffa, and those who sponsored the WECC resolution, are highly commended for this major historical milestone. We welcome Speaker Koffa’s clarification that the WECC will be established in Liberia and not outside the country, for the Liberian people to be closely engaged with the process.

We extend our appreciation to the US Administration for its unwavering support for the establishment of the WECC in Liberia. The United States’ endorsement of the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia underscores the importance of accountability for grave human rights violations and the promotion of peace and stability in the region.

We appeal to the U.S. and other international partners for adequate support in the security sector to ensure that Liberia’s peace and stability are not disrupted by subversive elements to stall or prevent the establishment of the WECC. Anyone who attempts to disrupt the peace and stability of Liberia must face the full weight of Liberian and international laws without fear or favor.

We also use this opportunity to call on the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague to closely monitor developments in Liberia, to bring to book anyone who would instigate violence in the fragile post-war country.

As Liberia moves forward on this path towards justice and reconciliation, all Liberians must unite in support of this landmark decision. By standing together, we can ensure that the rule of law is upheld and that past injustices are acknowledged and addressed.

We urge the Liberian Senate to stand on the right side of history and concur on the passage of the House resolution. Any attempt to stall the process in the Senate because of the two warlords-turned-senators will be against the best interest of the country. We hope that narrow ethnic or personal interests will not overshadow national interest, especially given the knowledge that Senator Johnson is the political patron of some of those in the leadership of the Liberian Senate. We will advocate for international sanctions against those in the leadership of the Senate and other senators who would connive to prevent the Senate from concurring with the House resolution.

We reaffirm our support for the establishment of the WECC and stand prepared to help create public awareness regarding the significance of the court to ensure sustainable peace and progress in Liberia. In this regard, we appeal to international rights groups, governments, and the media to lend material and expert support to the WECC to end the culture of impunity in Liberia.

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