Ellen: I Have Absolutely Not Supported Any Warring Faction
Categorized as pertaining to:
Monrovia, February 12, 2009 (TRC): President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf finally testified Thursday at Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) challenging any member of a former warring faction to prove she was a member.
Madame Johnson-Sirleaf said she was never a member of any of the warring factions, saying there is no shred of evidence to prove her link of any of the defunct armed factions.
"I have absolutely not supported any warring faction and none of them can say I supported them, "she said.
But the President admitted she was a sympathizer of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), saying, "like thousands of Liberians, I was a sympathizer, but that did not make me a member."
She was testifying at the ongoing public hearing of the TRC at its headquarters in Sinkor.
President Johnson-Sirleaf said that in 1990 she met Mr. Charles Taylor, the leader of the defunct NPFL at his headquarters then in Gborplay, Nimba County, but said she discovered that Taylor did not seem to be somebody who had a clear vision of what he wanted to do.
She said during the visit she saw "a lot of red eyes young people" and went into a small room where she met Taylor surrounded by several Lebanese and piles of bags of rice.
She admitted making contribution to an amount of US$10,000.00 that was donated to the NPFL by the Association of Constitutional Democracy (ACDL) for relief operations in Nimba County at the height of the conflict.
"After the killing of Jackson Doe, Kpolleh and others, we then concluded that that thing about Taylor was not what it was meant to be."
She also termed as "absolute rubbish and absurdity" allegations by Mr. Jesus Alieu Swaray during his testimony before the TRC that he saw her in Gbarnga in military uniform during a visit to NPFL territories.
President Johnson-Sirleaf: "I have never worn a military uniform in my life. If anyone can say that, then I will go to my travel documents and disprove them. I think it was a case of mistaken identity."
"I did not get involved in Mr. Taylor's military operations. The one time I crossed into his territory was the one I made mentioned of when I crossed into Gborplay across from The Ivory Coast," she said.
She then described allegations of her financial contributions to the NPFL as rubbish.
Liberia is recovering from years of conflict that was characterized by horrific human rights violations, including arbitrary killings, use of child combatants, rape and sexual violence, separation of families, and looting and destruction of properties. Out of a population of 3 million, an estimated 300,000 Liberians were killed, with as many as 1.5 million displaced.
Under the theme: "Understanding the Conflict Through its Principal Events and Actors," the ongoing hearings are addressing the root causes of the conflict, including its military and political dimensions.
The hearings are focused on events between 1979 and 2003 and the national and external actors that helped to shape those events.
The TRC was agreed upon in the August 2003 peace agreement and created by the TRC Act of 2005. The TRC was established to "promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation," and at the same time make it possible to hold perpetrators accountable for gross human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law that occurred in Liberia between January 1979 and October 2003.