Friday, July 20, 2007

Former General Accused of Coup Plot

I just heard a version of this story on NPR online:

MONROVIA, Liberia, July 19 (UPI) -- A former Liberian army commander has become the first in the country to be arrested for "subversive activities" since the country's 2005 elections.

Former Gen. Charles Julu, who led the presidential guard under former Liberian leader Samuel Doe and planned a 1994 coup attempt, was arrested and accused of planning another rebellion, the BBC reported Thursday.

"There is hard evidence that this man was trying to plan a coup," Liberian Information Minister Laurence Bropleh said.

Bropleh said investigators have video evidence to back up the government's accusations of coup plotting. He said authorities in Ivory Coast are assisting in the investigation.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the names I am hearing so far, I wouldn't be surprised if the allegations turn out to be true. Those charged are known trouble-makers who, if their past activities are anything to go by, are very capable of mischief.

I have long held the view that the current political impasse in the Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire) poses the greatest security threat to Liberia. Ivorian trouble-makers are known to have had contacts with Liberian trouble-makers in the past. Apparently, the government of the Ivory Coast now realizes that fomenting instability in Liberia will also have a devastating impact on their country as well. So if anything comes from these events (without passing judgment on the guilt or innocence of the individuals involved in this current matter), it is the willingness of the Ivorian authorities to collaborate with the Liberian authorities to prevent cross border smuggling of arms into Liberia by individuals keen on mischief.

As incredulous as an alleged plot may sound (i.e. no way on God's green earth it would have succeeded in replacing the government with an illegal regime), I do not in the least underestimate its potential to threaten the lives of people, however little that number of people would have been.

For a country that has experienced so much violence, even if this is a little over-reaction on the part of the government, I would rather see that then to await actual acts of violence to occur prior to the government taking action. Once the information was in the press and the rumor mill was at full speed, the government had to provide some information. The fact that EJS has not commented on this matter tells me she would have much rather seen a quieter investigation.

My suspicion is that this was not really a 'coup plot' in the traditional sense. These individuals may have been trying to bring arms into the country to assassinate individuals they consider enemies. I believe that for anyone to believe that they can execute a 'coup' in Liberia under the glare of UNMIL is asinine, to say the least. Then again, countless idiotic acts which have no chance of success have been attempted in the past.

What lesson can Liberians learn from this? Known war criminals cannot be allowed to go unpunished in the name of 'reconciliation'. The TRC cannot be a substitute for justice. Charles Taylor is being tried for war crimes and rightly so. Why shouldn’t other known war criminals be given the opportunity to defend their actions with the full benefit of all due process rights? The failure to punish individuals for past wrongs sends a message that they can engage in any mischievous misadventure and go unpunished. I am not one to take many lessons from Sierra Leone, but the UN should have followed that model in creating a war crimes court for Liberia. No Liberian government will have the mandate to do so under the current and likely future configuration of national politics. So the current and future governments are left with the arduous task of keeping a watchful eye on known trouble-makers, helped only by the desire of the 99.9% of the population who will not tolerate any activity that have the propensity to create political violence.

3:49 PM  

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