Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The end of the Ivorian crisis or the beginning

Former Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo has been captured. But is this the end of the Ivorian crisis or the beginning?  Is it time for the refugees to return home? Some Liberians have been giving their own thoughts on the capture and the status of Ivorian refugees in the country.

Moses Youlo, Electronic Technician
“The arrest of Gbagbo should not make people too jubilant because we saw the same thing in Liberia. When Doe was captured and killed, people were thinking that that was the end of the war, but it was the beginning of the war.
The government needs to be serious by trying to have a national conference which will bring the people together once again. Because there are differences now in Ivory Coast between Ouattara and Gbagbo’s supporters. There may likely be ethnic conflict if the government fails to unite the people.
The refugees should not go back home. The government has to take over the entire country. If the government takes over the entire country, and things get stable, with security back in place, then the refugees can return.
I’m appealing to the international community not to take sides in this conflict, because I believe they took side in Ivorian conflict. When Gbagbo asked for the votes to be recounted, the international community should have honored that, but they did not and they asked him to leave power. At least, the recounting of the votes could have convinced people whether Gbagbo won or not.”

J. Clement Wright, Liberian citizen
“I think Gbagbo deserved what he got. After being very hard-headed for the period of four months, he got the result of his hard-headedness.

The war in Ivory Coast is a critical one with the turn it is presently taking. Phase one of the war is over. Phase two has to do with ethnicity. We will see people of different ethnic backgrounds supporting Gbagbo. He has immense power in Ivory Coast unless president Ouattara comes up with a strategy.
I disagree with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) plan from Ouattara. Liberia and South Africa are my examples. It did not work in the two countries and I don’t think it will work in Ivory Cost if it is established, except in areas where people will be willing to talk truth.
The war in Ivory Coast was not too long, so I don’t think a T.R.C. should be established. I heard refugees have started going home, but some people from Gbagbo’s ethnic background will stay in Liberia.”

Geeba Kaba, student AME Zion, Economy and Management “We can say yes, and we can say no. No in the sense that He was a nightmare. However, his arrest will bring some relief. But president Ouattara has a lot of task on hand. One of it is to recognize the people. He has to abolish witch-hunting. And to abolish witch-hunting, he has to stop attacking a particular ethnic group.
For instance, I lived in Ivory Coast before, I know the people there are violence oriented people, so the best thing is for him (Ouattara) to be somehow flexible and set up a government of national inclusion.
We should applaud Gbagbo because he was the father of democracy in Ivory Coast. He brought multi-party democracy in that country even though he has now been arrested. I’m appealing to president Ouattara to handle Gbagbo well, take care of him, if judgment will take its course, it should be that way. If there will be some set of ethnic violence in some areas, I ask the refugees to stay in Liberia.”

Scott Blaye, UL Business College
“I will tell you no, the crisis has not come to an end because of the manner in which it went. The international community took sides from the beginning of the elections to the end. The elections were not free and fair according to Gbagbo. Rebels were not disarmed in the north of that country when the elections were conducted; people were harassed not to vote for Gbagbo in the north.
Right after the elections, Gbagbo came up to say the elections were not fair, they took the results to the Constitutional Court and the court said the votes from the north were not indeed fair, for this reason it should be recounted. The international community said no. Since the Elections Commission announced that Ouattara won, indeed he won and Gbagbo must step down.
African leaders must be sensitive. I can say Africa is not completely independent because we can’t make our own decision and solve our own problems. And each time the international community comes in to solve a problem, they take side with the person they want to be president, because of special interests, and if I may say so, because they want a leader they can control.
We saw it in 2002, when Gbagbo’s aircraft was brought down by French troops. I thought the coming in of the international community was to find the root cause of the crisis and stop the conflict, but rather, they stood by Ouattara. I think there will be tribal wars and I think it is very, very much dangerous for the refugees here to go home, because if you think by arresting Gbagbo everything is over, it’s just the beginning.
The rebels and forces loyal to both Gbagbo and Ouattara need to be disarmed before the refugees can go back home”.

Yeabea Clarke, Administrator, Sinoe County Health Team
“Well, I will say that crisis has not come to an end yet. Experiences from my own country will tell me so. We have similar situations around the world. The war in Iraq is an example. When Saddam Hussein was captured, people thought the war had ended, but as I speak the crisis is still going on in Iraq. So the capture of Gbagbo is the beginning of the war. A lot of work need to done and Ivory Coast is in real trouble.
Tribalism and religious ties have some negative effects on the peace process. So I think no refugees should go there now.”

D. Siaffa Dennis Morris, Liberian  
“I lived in Ivory Coast for four (4) years, and so I understand the inner dynamics of Ivorian politics: the way they look at things and the way they address issues. The way we saw Gbagbo on TV yesterday, in an undershirt, it’s not the end of the war. I’m afraid the crisis will be worse. Just by seeing that picture alone, it’s enough for more fighting.
If you look at the crisis, you will know that it is the United Nations and the fighters that arrested Gbagbo. Ouattara does not represent the Ivorian people whether people want to hear it or not. The refugees must stay here because that war is not over yet.”

Samuel A. Hasay, UL, Business College
“I heard people saying Gbagbo was arrested by Ouattara’s forces: it’s a lie. He was arrested by international forces. The refugees, I think, if you are for Gbagbo, you can wait. If you are for Ouattara, you can go because he’s in power now and if he knows you that you are for Gbagbo, you could be killed.”

Eugene Nimely, Lion Stationary worker
“I think the crisis has ended. The reason why our crisis did not end at the time Doe was arrested is that there were many factions. In Ivory Coast, there are only two: Gbagbo forces and Ouattara forces. So the arresting of Gbagbo will surely lead to the end of the crisis.
With no other faction to oppose Ouattara’s forces, after a month there will be stability in Ivory Coast. Right now it’s not too good to go back as a refugee, but two or three months from now they can go back, the crisis will be over by then”.


Liberia’s Oldest Practicing Journalist Dies

Stanton Peabody’s imprisonment led to the formation of the Press Union of Liberia
Gboko John Stewart,

Stanton B. Peabody, affectionately known as “Bob Stan”, gave up the ghost at precisely 1:45 a.m. Tuesday, April 12 following a month-long battle with stroke. He was 80.
Peabody’s imprisonment led to the formation of the press union of Liberia.
Veteran Liberian Journalist Kenneth Y. Best, recalls Peabody as a man who was dedicated to his work. Best says Peabody stuck to principles. Says Best: “He never veered into the lucrative pasture of PR (Public Relations). He was a journalist for over sixty years.”
A ‘Reporter’s Editor’
Maureen Sieh, another Liberian journalist, now a U.S. Peace Corp in Morocco, described the fallen journalist as a reporter's editor. “He was very tough, but always pushed reporters to get the story right and fast. I remember when I decided to cover the Liberian civil war. He didn't say, "Don't send this young woman to the battle front.” He encouraged me. I remember how proud he was when I came back from Nimba County shortly after Taylor's forces invaded Liberia. He never tried to stop me from covering the war. Not once did he say because I was a woman. I really loved that about him. He was a great writer. Bob Stan was quiet, but he was very passionate about press freedom and did everything he could to foster that in Liberia. He will truly be missed. His death has certainly left a void in the Liberian press. I saw him a couple of years ago in Minneapolis. Of course we talked about the good old days. I really, really miss working with him, but his memory lives on. He was a really big part of my life and career.”
A fallen pillar
In a press statement issued by the PUL following his death, PUL President, Peter Quaqua described his death as the fall of a pillar.
The late Stanton B. Peabody was born in Marshall City, then Marshall Territory (now Margibi County), in 1931, to Albert D. Peabody and Serena F. Marshall.
He received his primary Education in the Marshall public school until 1944, when he moved to Monrovia, where he attended James B. McCritty School Afternoon School and the College of West Africa (1945-49), and then the St. John’s Episcopal Mission School in Grand Cape Mount County (1949-52).
Peabody returned to Monrovia and matriculated at the University of Liberia where, while still a student, he launched his journalism career as a reporter for the Liberian Age in 1952.
He later became senior reporter for the Liberian Age in 1952 a position he held until 1963.
A seasoned editor
Between 1963 and 1966, he served as assistant Editor, and became acting editor in May 1966 (when Editor-in-Chief Aston King was charged with seditious libel); he served as acting editor until July 1970, when he was formally appointed Editor-in-Chief, a position he retained even after the April 12, 1980 military coup d’ etat.
When the Age’s name was changed by the PRC military government in September 1980 to The Redeemer, he continued to serve as Editor-in-Chief until December 1980 when he was transferred to the Ministry of Information as Editor-in-Chief of the New Liberian, a position he held until he was dismissed in 1981.
In October 1983, he became editor of the Daily Observer and its sister paper, Sunday Observer, and by 1995, was its managing director.
Between 1991 and 1994, he also served as Editorial consultant for the Inquirer newspaper, and later served on the organizing committee of the Torchlight, a newspaper established by ECOMOG, the West African Peacekeeping Force during the height of the Liberian civil conflict.
A veteran journalist who covered over five Liberian administrations, Peabody received numerous national and international awards and honors, including “Journalist of the Year” in 1988 because of “his incisive and thought-provoking editorials.” Since 1962, he has served as correspondent in Liberia for the British wire service, Reuters. Returning to Liberia in 2005 after a brief self-exile in the United States, and continued to be active in the press and involved with journalist in Liberia.


In Maryland Murder Trial

Prosecutors Suffer Another Blow; Judge Nuta Denies Motion To Remove Juror 

Following a week-long delay to proceed with the ongoing murder trial involving H. Dan Morias and nine prominent citizens of Maryland County, state prosecutors Tuesday suffered another blow after the Presiding Judge denied an application filed by the state to remove one of the petit jurors serving on the panel.
When the case was called for hearing on Tuesday, lawyers representing the interest of the Liberian Government prayed the court to eject, or disqualify juror Musu Zodiah for reason that during the registration process of the jurors, she indicated that she was living in the West Point Community.
To buttress the application, one of the prosecutors submitted that juror Zodiah’s name appeared on the listing forwarded to the court by the Commissioner of West Point on March 16, 2011.
The prosecution also spread on the minutes of the court that after juror Zodiah was selected and sequestered as one of the last three jurors, completing the panel to live on the grounds of the Temple of Justice, but it was later found out that the information given about her residence was not true.
Based on the above reasons, prosecution contended that juror Zodiah be disqualified as previously done to other jurors in the same case.
But resisting the motion filed by the state lawyers, one of the defense lawyers, Cllr. J. Lavala Supuwood requested the court to deny the unmeritorious submission for the following legal and factual reasons that the government prosecutors are relaying: tactics, weakness and illegal means to frustrate fellow citizens, who had been incarcerated and made to suffer under their skin.
Cllr. Supuwood told the court that the prosecution has failed to give legal reason why the juror should be disqualified, after the Supreme Court had reviewed and mandated Judge Nuta to resume jurisdiction over the murder case.
The defense argued that the state prosecutors cannot come back on the very day after the Judge had resumed jurisdiction over the matter as mandated by the Justice-in-Chambers, Francis S. Korkpor, Sr.
“It is further cleared that the prosecution lacked the evidence to convict the defendants or established their case, after presenting six witnesses and reviewing their own evidence , they are not satisfied that such evidence can convince any intelligent mind, such as these jurors, to convict another person for such a serious crime. The only honorable thing they can do such as we have done in the past is to nolle prosequi this case. That is to say, if the evidence as presented by them cannot connect these defendants to the crime charged, they should dismiss the case and not to use this court as instruments to continue to harass, intimidate and keep in prison innocent people for political and other motives,” Cllr. Supuwood declared.
Cllr. Supuwood informed the court that from the inception of the case, after the prosecution had paraded six witnesses, it has found out it have no evidence to convict the accused.
In a related development, the fate of defendant Mle Merriam is still in limbo as state prosecutors have yet to produce his living body in the court as requested by the defense in its petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus filed before Criminal Court “D” at the Temple of Justice last week.
The case resumes this morning with the prosecution putting its seventh witness on the stand.