Sunday, September 23, 2012


It was good news that the SpecialCourt for Sierra Leone judges in The Hague sentenced former Liberian PresidentCharles Taylor to a jail-term of 50 years, the first African President to beprosecuted in an international court. He was convicted of aiding and abettingthe commission of serious crimes in Sierra Leone and planning attacks onvarious towns. He was also accused of assisting theRevolutionary United Front, a rebel group, in the recruitment of child soldiers, rape and sexual slavery. I find this man’s rise to the Presidencyin 1997, such a wonder. Why a man of his past record of atrocities and abuses onhis own people was even elected President of Liberia with 75% of the votes inhis favor is such a wonder. The election was even described as “one of thecleanest” (or should it be a wonder with graft and corruption existing in everycountry). Maybe his campaign slogan "He killed myma, he killed my pa, but I will vote for him" was a warning to voters notto vote otherwise. Nevertheless, after so many years, the verdict on his crimeshas come out...guilty.

Though the crimes may bedifferent, I can somehow relate this to the political situation here. Twoformer Presidents ousted, the first one, the late President Ferdinand Marcos, oustedby peaceful people power, for abuses, political oppression, graft andcorruption during his more than 20 years of dictatorship; a second one,Ex-President Joseph Estrada, impeached for plunder, though granted pardon yearslater by the President who replaced him, ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Sheherself is now facing plunder charges.

The late Egyptian PresidentHosni Mubarak resignedafter nearly 30 years of holding power. He was charged with corruption and thekilling of demonstrators. He wenton trial in August 2011 and was convicted to life in prison in June 2012 but died shortly from aheart attack.
The justice process can takelong. Judgment can take years, because gathering evidence and capturing themcan also take years. In Taylor’s case, it took 4 years of hearings before hewas convicted.

It is so true that goodgovernance is so wanting worldwide. History has shown that world leaders couldnot hold on to their conviction and ideals of becoming good leaders. Somewhere,if it hasn’t been their plan all along to enrich and glue themselves in power,the sparkle of power and greed ends up consuming them. Like others blinded byfame and fortune, at some point, they lose track of reality. They crave formore of that sparkle and power, forgetting they have an obligation to give backwhat they have committed to the public that put them where they are.   

Thejudgment on people like Charles Taylor, Hosni Mubarak, and the ousting orforced resignation of other leaders due to political and sex scandals, graftand corruption send a clear message. Heads of state will be held to account fortheir crimes, because *“withleadership, come not just power and authority, but also responsibility andaccountability.


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