Home Politics Snowe Talks Tough On US Role In Liberia

Snowe Talks Tough On US Role In Liberia

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By: Frank P. Martin

MONROVIA: The presence of Alan W. White, Co-Executive Director of the Advocacy Foundation for Human Rights in the Liberian Senate Plenary on Tuesday sparked mix-reactions among Senators following deliberations and the subsequent signing of the much-heralded Resolution for the establishment of War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia.

On April 9, the Liberian Senate concurred with the House of Representatives on the establishment of the court in Liberia, a post-conflict West African Nation.
At most, 28 out of 29 Senators signed the Resolution behind closed doors, and the decision was read in the Senate’s session on Tuesday by Senate’s Secretary, Nanborlor Singbe.

Allen White and other global human rights advocates were present in the Senate Plenary to witness the publicized debate on the signing and endorsement of the Resolution.

While speaking to issues of Liberia and the United States of America (USA) relations, with focus on making crucial decisions bordering human rights and governance, Bomi County Senator, Edwin Melvin Snowe, highlighted his opinion as regards the relations subsisting between Monrovia and Washington, pointing at what he characterized as the lack of tangible support to develop Liberia.

He maintains that the United States government consistently coerced the Liberian government by placing Liberians on American sanctions without any due process of law.

Senator Snowe, who was under United Nations Sanction during the erstwhile regime of jailed former President of Liberia, Charles Ghankay Taylor, asserted that he had received intelligence that the presence of Mr. Allen White in the Senate Plenary’s Tuesday session was meant to intimidate the Liberian Senate, and if any members of that august body had rejected the signing of the resolution, he/she was going to be sanctioned by the US government.

“When I got in session today, someone sent me a picture of my back and said Mr. Allen White is witnessing your session. And those that will not vote on the War Crimes Court will be put on sanction,” the Bomi County Senator told Senate Plenary.

He expressed regret for affixing his signature to the Resolution with public insinuation, that he (Senator Snowe) signed the document as a result of Mr. White’s presence or US government’s pressure on members of the Liberian Senate.

“If I knew Mr. Allen White would be in session today, I was not going to sign it. Because, I am not signing this war crime court to please Mr. Allen White, and even if Liberians will be threatened with American sanction.
The Bomi County Lawmaker said the government of America had supported past Liberian administrations with huge budgetary supports, wrongly against the best interests of the Liberian state and its people.

The Bomi Senator referenced the April 12, 1980 military coup when President William Richard Tolbert and his Grand Old True Whig Party regime was overthrown. The President was murdered in his bedroom at the Executive Mansion on Capitol Hill in Monrovia.

At least 13 of his former government officials including then House Speaker, Richard Henries; Senate Pro-Tempore, Frank Emmanuel Tolbert; among others were publicly executed via Firing Squad by the military junta, styled: “People’s Redemption Council (PRC), then, headed by M/Sgt. Samuel Kanyon Doe.

The coup, which was staged by the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), under the Command of Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe, Senator Snowe said, received mammoth financial and other assistance from the US Government, then, without anyone calling for justice for victims of the bloody military coup.

“President Tolbert was killed and his officials were put on firing squad. And after that coup, the American government provided heavy budgetary assistance to that government than other government in the history of our country,” Snowe narrated.

Snowe said he feels ashamed when some countries in the West African sub-region that were colonized by France and Great Britain are boosting in ECOWAS Parliamentary meetings of development and investment initiatives carried out by their respective former colonial masters.

“Every country at the ECOWAS Parliament makes country’s report to the body. When the French people ready to speak, they will say the French government gave this to undertake this and that project: We invest it in healthcare, education, road infrastructure, etc. When the commonwealth countries go to speak—I mean Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Lone, Gambia—they tell us what Great Britain is still giving them for development. When Liberia stands to speak, we talk about budget shortfall. We don’t know who is giving us what,” the Bomi County Senator noted.

He said America, through the American Colonization Society (ACS), a non-governmental organization (NGO), and with the support of US Government, transported freeborn blacks and emancipated slaves to Liberia that is yet to undertake an important development initiative in the country.

“We have no direct American investment in this country. The only investment that came to Liberia after the war was to break Kendeja down (former National Culture Center) and built a hotel in its place. And we don’t have a culture village today but we want war crimes Court,” he declared.

In a rhetorical fashion, Senator Snowe asked: “Will this War Crimes Court bring dignity to our country? Will it improve JFK, will it improve our roads conditions?”

“I signed for it. If this war crime court will bring about economic development to our country, I signed for it today.” Snowe told his colleagues in Senate Plenary which is the highest decision-making body of the Upper House of Liberia’s bicameral Legislature.

He disclosed to the senate Plenary that during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in the Mano River region, the US Government sent more financial and other assistance to the Republics of Guinea and Sierra Leone than Liberia that was established by the ACS, an American Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).

Senator Snowe accused the US government for wrongfully targeting certain influential Liberian government officials including him without any cause or proof.

“I was placed on sanction here by the US government for 10 years without cause or proof; just because I was connected to Mr. Charles Taylor; just because I married to Mr. Taylor’s daughter,” Snowe further told the Senate Plenary.

Snowe: “ How will you put someone on sanction because he married to someone’s daughter? Is that justice?”

Snowe: “Today, some of our colleagues in the Senate are placed on sanction but when you want lecture or interact with those colleagues, you are targeted by the US government to be placed on sanction. Is that justice? At least we are talking about taking people to court for war crime but our colleagues who were sanctioned were never given due process. Today, we are here rejoicing for war crime court. They went to the Supreme Court and advised the Supreme Court to ban Mr. Varney Sherman because he’s on sanction and therefore, he should not practice law in Liberia. And when you talk and they say they will put you on sanction. I am ready today to go on sanction but let there be justice.”

He observed that the Liberian Nation is divided on “Blue and Green lines,” and as such, the establishment of the court can’t serve as healing lane for the broken wounds.

Snowe, first House Speaker during first term of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf but later removed from the post by his legislative comrades added that, if the establishment of the War Crimes Court in the country is the solution for a new Liberia that will unite its people, he stands with that solution.

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