Liberia – The Bad News Goes Beyond Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The indictment of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was not the only conclusion of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission that could have a far-reaching impact. True, they recommended banning her from politics for 30 years. But she’s not the only Liberian politician mentioned in the report.

Former warlord and current Nimba County senator Prince Johnson was also named in the report. It recommends that he be prosecuted for gross human rights violations and war crimes, specifically mass murder, extortion, destruction of property, forced recruitment, assault, abduction, torture, and rape. Of the 88 people cited for atrocities in the report, Johnson is ranked #1 for the severity of his crimes as leader of the Independent Patriotic Front of Liberia, the group that executed former President Samuel K. Doe.

As an added bonus, there are rumors that he is threatening to re-start the civil war if he is prosecuted.

Foreign Policy Magazine has a new interview of Johnson, with freelance journalist Glenna Gordon. Not surprisingly, Johnson disputes the TRC report’s conclusions. Not only does he dispute the conclusions, he seems to be politically ambitious. Some quotes from the interview:

“I spoke at the TRC and said, “Forgive me for my sins, but when two elephants fight, the grass suffers.” I was repentant. I’ve accepted Jesus.”

“Every country in the world knows the history of Nimba [Johnson’s county]. They know what [former President Samuel] Doe did to my people. I had to defend my people.”

“If people say go there [run for president], I’ll go. Leadership does not come from how much you know. Leadership does not go by how much education you have. A leader that is born, you can see the characteristics.”

“I’m honest, straightforward, disciplined. When I say “yes,” it’s yes. These are characteristics that make people … trust you. Tolerance, etc., etc. It’s a gift. An individual gifted with wisdom is more than the man who is knowledgeable. When you gain knowledge you also gain wisdom. But there is no institution where you can gain wisdom. You got too many institutions that teach knowledge. Wisdom is a gift from God.”