The Foiled Plot

By Patrick Flomo

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
August 9, 2007


It has been three weeks since the foiled conspiracy to subvert the government of Liberia by armed force became public knowledge. The Liberian government has formally charged George Koukou and Charles Julu, two of the alleged conspirators, with treason. Koukou is a former speaker of the now defunct Transitional Assembly and Julu is a former general in the Samuel K. Doe government, also known as the infamous “merchant of death.”

Koukou and Julu are not a threat to the Liberian society and government. The general Liberian populations, who have no exit opportunity in the face of a national security threat, are by default the worst enemy of the peace and stability of Liberia. If one is cognizant of the immediate aftermath of the 1979 race riot orchestrated by Gabriel Matthews and his cohorts' pursuant to the military coup of 1980—one would assume that Liberians everywhere would have the greatest aversion to the “perception or rumor” of any attempt to subvert an elected government by armed force. I am stupefied to see the muted response of the larger Liberian populations to the announcement that a plot had been underway to subvert the stability of Liberia. It is astounding and incomprehensible when you consider the ugly scars of the past quarter-century of instability and civil strife. I had envisaged that any attempt by an individual or a group to subvert the government of Liberia by force of arms would receive a heated public outcry. I expected stupendous expostulation as a demonstration of our desire never again to have our society plunged into chaos by men I consider to lack the dignity of a dog.

The lurid events and resulting scars of the quarter century of chaos are so vivid and still tangible everywhere—so much that you cannot move from point A to point B without physically encountering them. There are three main things Liberia must do to move forward. First, Liberians must love Liberia as themselves. Second, the destiny of Liberia depends entirely on Liberians (not on the U.S. or the international community). And third, Liberians must develop, both psychologically and emotionally, the strongest aversion for political conspiracy and an ultimate distaste for military coups. When one takes into account the extraordinary trauma Liberians had experienced in years gone by, one would expect Liberians to nurture a deep abiding love for their country. They should deeply care about the lives of all ordinary fellow Liberians. They should vehemently and loudly proclaim their distaste for violent usurpation of political power.

I had envisioned that when peace returns to Liberia, the single most important theme that will bind all Liberians is: “Never again shall we accept violent overthrow of our elected government.” But it seems that Liberians have amnesia regarding the trauma experienced just a few years ago and have become blind to the physical evidence all around us of the years of mayhem. Men like Charles Julu, George Koukou and their cohorts look like members of the human species—but if one were to dissect their DNA, I am sure their Y-Chromes would look just like of the mythical Medusa's. The physical outlooks of these two men have a deep sinister composition; their ugliness is not too far from demonic. Charles Julu, who was one of the principal players during Doe's rein of terror, witnessed the destruction of human lives. To contemplate subverting the force of arms is, in my view, less than human.

Yet men like Charles Julu, George Koukou and their cohorts are not the enemy of the state. It is rather the salient majority who allow them to live amongst them and contemplate such evil without massive public outrage. That majority ought to issue a clarion call against anyone who may think or act in such evil manner. Most nations have one or two issues that the citizens are very passionate about—that no power on earth will deny them. In the U.S., such issues include baseball and the First Amendment. For Israel, it is never again will the Jews be gassed. I wonder what is it for Liberia?

In the mid 1970s, Gabriel Matthews and his cohorts infected the political and social construction of Liberia with a virulent thermal cancer that debilitated the nation's economic and political foundation. As the nation atrophied, neither Matthews nor his cohorts had the capacity or the vision to provide a blueprint for a better nation. Matthews’ success in opening the gate of hell was largely due to the silent majority. This majority knew that the path PAL had taken in order to correct the shortcomings of Liberia’s political and economic structure would lead not to a promised land but to our Armageddon. Yet that majority elected to stick their heads in the sand like an ostrich.

Before Matthews launched his crusade to change the makeup of Liberian politics and economy, a constitutional framework had been well established for changing a government that was inept, corrupt, or that failed to meet the people’s needs. The Tolbert government had help to codify some of these constitutional frameworks. But Matthews and his associates elected to challenge the government by force of illegal demonstration. The political battle Matthews began imploded on April 12, 1980, and thereafter Liberia was on a roller coaster ride to hell.

After the assassination of William R. Tolbert—which in my opinion was done by foreign special forces of high-ranking officers rather than the so-called illiterate and enlisted men—a period of senseless killing and imprisonment followed. Relative peace and stability followed after that for five years. After the 1985 election, Doe and his inner circle (mostly the Krahn tribe) became Grendel (named after the evil monster in the epic Beowulf adventure who brought death and destruction to the Danes). They subjected Liberia to a reign of terror that can be equated to that of Ivan IV the Terrible of Russia. After the Quiwonkpa debacle on November 12, 1985, Liberia degenerated further into a mad hell from whence she did not return until a year ago. We have seen what successful coups and attempted coups had done to Liberia. The April 12, 1980 military coup and the attempted military coup of November 12, 1985 are two tragic lessons too many for our taste. Any dream, thought, or contemplation of subverting the government of Liberia by armed force must be met with the strongest public outrage and condemnation. Charles Julu, George Koukou and their compatriots are symptoms of what’s to come if we do not muster all our energies now. We must let such people know that there is no room for such ideas in our fragile democracy and reconstruction efforts. It is amazing how such men will make every effort to destroy the little we have left, rather than contributing to the rebuilding process.

© 2007 by The Perspective

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