(AFP) – Jul 9, 2009
MONROVIA (AFP) — Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf "is not going to resign," government spokesman Laurence Bropleh said in the wake of a damning report by the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Sirleaf was among a number of politicians whom the TRC recommended be banned from political activities for 30 years because of their alleged involvement in the west African country's brutal civil wars between 1989 and 2003.
"The president is not anticipating resigning," said Bropleh, who is also minister of information. "She is not going to resign. The president and the rest of us are reading the report."
"What I can tell you, is that President Sirleaf has tried to reconcile the country for the last two years," Bropleh told AFP. "She will continue to do that."
In its final report, released on Monday, the panel investigating Liberia's successive civil wars included Sirleaf's name in a list of people it accused of being "the financiers and political leaders of the different warring factions."
"They (those named) should be banned from occupying public office for 30 years beginning the day of the passage of the report at the parliament," the TRC recommended.
The panel was set up by Sirleaf herself after she was sworn in to office in January 2006, after a transitional period following the departure of Liberia's previous warlord president Charles Taylor in 2003.
"The people of Liberia elected her by popular vote in 2005, they reconciled with her at that time, and that reconciliation has brought development, hope and dignity back into the life of the Liberian people, and that is what the president is more concerned about at this time," Bropleh said.
For the report to have a biting effect, it has to be adopted by Liberia's parliament, but that step seems highly unlikely given that many people listed in the report currently hold political office.
The TRC also listed eight warlords it said should be tried by a special tribunal for crimes against humanity, but on Wednesday some of them warned at a joint press conference that they would oppose any bid to bring them to justice.
"This government is not passing into law anything that will bring this country back to war," one of the main warlords, Prince Johnson, today a senator, told journalists.
At a hearing in February before the TRC, Africa's first woman head of state denied she had even been a member of Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia, which took up arms against president Samuel Doe in 1989.
But Sirleaf, who is 70, admitted she had met Taylor several times and helped raise funds for him when he was planning to topple Doe, who was in the end tortured to death by Prince Johnson's breakaway faction in 1990.
Taylor is already charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity stemming from his support of Revolutionary United Front (RUF) guerrillas in neighbouring Sierra Leone's 1991-2001 civil war.
He has been on trial in The Hague since January last year following his arrest in Nigeria and his handover to a Special Court for Sierra Leone. He had gone into exile in 2003 in a deal ending Liberia's civil war.
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