During a recent visit to South Africa, former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf sat down for an interview with the eNCA, an online television channel – and then abruptly walked off the set.The former president was in South Africa to attend programs commemorating 25 years of national independence and democracy in South Africa.Naturally, it was the perfect time to reflect on democratic success stories not just in South Africa but from other African nations. President Sirleaf is the latest African leader to have exited power without contention, and she has been handsomely rewarded and celebrated for that aspect of her legacy.By the same token, however, that is not the sum total of her legacy. She has to be just as well prepared to answer for the mistakes as she is to receive the accolades!But this is the irony of her legacy – that she was able to project democratic ideals in the eyes of the international community but at home did not believe she was accountable to the Liberian people or anyone else! That she would arrogantly walk off the set of an interview as if she owes NO ONE any answers — what message was she sending to the world?Madam Sirleaf could not possibly have thought that no one would ever ask her the Taylor question again. A politician as astute as she would by now have thought through that question a thousand times and fashioned her answer to every possible question related to the Taylor issue.But what does one do when there is no cogent explanation? What does one say? One diplomatically avoids the question and counts on the good graces of the interviewer not to press the issue further.But what happens when the question has never been answered, and an answer is needed at a time when Africa needs all of the lessons she can learn from success stories as well as past mistakes? When those answers need to go deeper than skimming the surface; when the answers are complex and need to be delved into?Madam Sirleaf took offense, told the interviewer she felt “hijacked” and walked off the set.But the answers to that question would have benefited not just the entire continent of Africa but the entire comity of nations still struggling to find their way – – the right way.Take Venezuela for example, where an opposition leader practically staged a one-man coup, declared himself president and was backed by many of his countrymen as well as a number of nations. Could Venezuela have learned from Liberia’s mistakes? This business of backing a rebel leader to escape a democratically elected but corrupt leader is still a matter of desperation for alternatives that many nations are still grappling with.What the world didn’t know until she walked off that set though, was that refusing to answer the pertinent questions was the modus operandi for twelve straight years of the Ellen Sirleaf administration. The questions were never answered as to what happened to the money that disappeared from National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) coffers while her son, Robert Sirleaf, presided as chairman of the board of the entity and special advisor to his mother. As a matter of fact, the questions were never answered as to why she had three sons in senior positions in her government – previously condemned by her as “nepotism” in the Samuel Doe and other administrations. The questions were never answered as to how the bodies of the late Harry Greaves and Michael Allison (both critics of the lack of accountability surrounding NOCAL) turned up on the Monrovia coastline.What the world didn’t know until now was that this was not even the first time an interview was abruptly ended, and over the self-same Taylor issue. In 2009 the Liberian Observer Online, operating from the United States at the time, received a phone call from then Liberian Ambassador to Washington, D.C., M. Nathaniel Barnes. He stated that President Sirleaf was in the States to promote her just released memoir, This Child Will Be Great. Barnes asked the Editor whether she would be interested in interviewing the Head of State. We obliged.The editor dropped everything, purchased a copy, read it in two days and arrived in Texas with twenty-six questions for Madam Sirleaf, who was due to address a gathering at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Twenty-three of the questions covered the various other issues addressed in the book. The last three dealt with the Taylor question which, though addressed in the book, had left more questions than it answered.When the Observer Online Editor posed the question as to whether the president hoped Mr. Taylor would face the full weight of the law, Madam Sirleaf skirted the issue and refused to answer the question. When the journalist, taken aback, pressed the issue, the president’s son, Robert Sirleaf, interrupted the interview and blasted the journalist – with complete disregard, of course, for the fact that the tape recorder was still on. The interview was effectively terminated with the journalist being accused of attempting to embarrass the president.As the journalist exited the Presidential Suite at the guest mansion where the president was being hosted, Robert followed her into the hallway, still blasting. One of several Secret Service Agents assigned on the president’s floor positioned himself between Robert and the journalist (a young lady). When Robert realized the young lady was being protected by the Agent, he returned to the suite.All the while, his mother never uttered a word to bring his completely unprofessional behavior under control.The Agent accompanied the journalist down to the ground floor via elevator and returned to his post on the president’s floor.Madam Sirleaf accurately answered the South African reporter this week when he asked her whether she felt she owed Liberians an apology for financially supporting Charles Taylor with an emphatic “No.” And when pressed a second time, she responded, “I said No.” She also told the reporter she felt the war had been necessary because Samuel had commandeered the country’s wealth.If Liberians were ever looking for an answer from the former president, there it is.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
SANTA CLARA — No one seems to care how Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes against the 49ers on Dec. 2. Instead, it’s another of his throws that’s all the rage heading into Sunday’s rematch when his Seattle Seahawks visit the 49ers.When Wilson picked up linebacker Fred Warner’s stray shoe and chucked it to the side, that triggered a series of unfortunate events for the 49ers, and it cost coach Kyle Shanahan a $25,000 fine he’s appealing.“What I would like? For common sense to prevail, …
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The Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terror Squad (UP ATS) on Thursday arrested two persons allegedly belonging to the banned Khalistani outfit, Babbar Khalsa.The two suspects were identified as Balwant Singh and Jaswant Singh, a senior police officer said.While Balwant was arrested from the Aishbagh area of the State capital late on Wednesday, Jaswant was nabbed from a farmhouse in Unnao district, adjoining Lucknow.Balwant, who was missing from Punjab’s Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, was arrested on a tip-off by Punjab police, said UP ATS Inspector General Aseem Arun.Based on the input provided by Balwant, an ATS team headed by Additional Superintendent of Police Rajesh Sahni raided the Bhalla farmhouse in the Sohramau area in Unnao and nabbed Jaswant, said Mr. Arun.Wanted in many criminal casesJaswant Singh alias Kala is a native of Mukhtsar district in Punjab, police said.He is wanted in many criminal cases in Punjab and other States.According to the ATS, Jaswant was wanted in two murder cases dating back to 2016 — one case relates to Hanumangadh in Rajasthan while the other was in Faridkot district of Punjab.Mr. Arun said that during questioning, Jaswant told the ATS that he had spent time behind bars in 2005 under the Arms Act and other cases in his home district.In 2008, Jaswant was arrested from Modi Colony in New Delhi in connection with a case of sedition and Arms Act, Mr. Arun said.Jaswant had been absconding since he was booked under Arms Act and a case related to the Anti-Social Activity Act in Punjab, the ATS said. The Punjab police was granted transit remand of the two suspects.
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has said that fresh mining leases could be issued tentatively within six months with due process.The Chief Minister was addressing a press conference at the State Secretariat on Thursday, a day after the Supreme Court cancelled all 88 ore mining leases citing irregularities in the second renewal process. “Six months should be the target, from March, subject to no hurdles and problems in between. I have told you that the State is examining all options,” Mr. Parrikar said. He added that the State would not face any financial setback due to the apex court’s decision. “The damage is temporary. There is not much of a loss to the government. As far as financial impact on the State goes [it will be around] ₹300 to ₹400 crore. We can bear it. Next year income from [the mining sector] will be ₹300 to ₹400 crore. There is material still available in balance from e-auctions. We can auction that,” Mr. Parrikar said. He admitted, however, that there would definitely be an impact on those depending on the mining industry, and said the government will work fast to start mining with proper procedure.Mr. Parrikar said the leases were renewed for a second time based on directions from the Bombay High Court at Goa. “The Supreme Court has set aside that decision, saying that the High Court did not interpret their judgement [of cancelling the leases] properly,” he said. Mr. Parrikar refused to confirm if the State government would auction the leases, saying that he needs to study the legal aspects. He also said that as per the apex court’s order, while mining has been banned from March 15, there was nothing to stop mining companies from exporting the ore already extracted, which is stacked on transportation jetties and other plots outside the lease areas. “[The lease-holders] have been permitted to extract up to March 15. So obviously that ore will belong to them, subject to the condition that they pay the royalty, District Mineral Fund, everything,” Mr. Parrikar said. He said there is no ban on export. The Supreme Court order has also asked about recovery of State dues from miners. Mr. Parrikar said the State has already started the process to recover dues from mining companies after exhaustive audit by chartered accountants.