Source: Africa Review
Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has opted to come clean over her role in the country’s civil war.

Over the years innuendoes have circulated about her sponsoring the National Patriotic Front of Liberia of former warlord Charles Taylor, who is facing possible conviction before the UN-backed Sierra Leone Specia Court sitting at The Hague.

Mrs Sirleaf is now promising to appear before the Leymah Gbowee committee set up last year to address pre-election abuses. The president she was ready to “challenge the untruths” about her civil war role.

Last year’s highly disputed presidential election that saw Mrs Sirleaf win a second and final term revealed a deeply divided nation. It was partly to confront this that the president appointed the committee headed by Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee.

"I am prepared to be the first to appear before it, to say what I have already said, to challenge untruths, to say what I have done and what I have not done, and to demonstrate that no one is above this process of healing and truth-telling," she declared.

At the end of the Liberian civil war a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up which came up with a number of recommendations. Among them were the banning from active political life of key players of the time, including Mrs Sirleaf herself.

She has come under intense pressure locally to implement these controversial recommendations.


The Independent National Human Rights Commission (INHRC) of Liberia, tasked with the implementation of the most important aspect of those recommendations, has itself been undertaking similar reconciliation programs.

As part of this, officials of the commission intend to launch what the government calls ‘Palava Hut Programme’ similar to Rwanda’s ‘gachacha’ traditional court system set up to untie the judicial bottlenecks caused by the 1994 genocide cases.

The ‘Palava Hut’ entails confession and forgiveness-seeking through a traditional conflict resolution mechanism. It will take the form of community discussions and, says the INHRC, will derive legitimacy from a host of cultural influences.

According to President Sirleaf, the Leymah Gbowee reconciliation committee would also seek to provide an independent platform for truth-telling.

"It will provide an independent platform for Liberians, irrespective of the social, economic, political, and geographic orientation, to address past abuses, reconcile fractured relations and communities," she said.

She added: “To guarantee our peace, we must do more to unite our people. Liberia is today a nation at peace, but not yet at peace with itself. Our journey of national healing is under way, but it is not complete. To claim the future, we must reflect and heal the past.”


Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (left) recites the oath of office next to Chief Justice Johnnie Lewis during her second presidential inauguration in Monrovia on January 16, 2012. AFP |


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