the liberia question
The few American Africa-watchers who hadn't already left their posts for the 4th of July holiday on Friday were all abuzz over the news that Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had apparently been banned from holding public office for thirty years by the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The TRC organization was tasked with exposing crimes committed during the country's 2+ decades of on-again, off-again civil war. Johnson Sirleaf, who supported Charles Taylor against Samuel Doe in the 1980's, and then the LURD against Taylor in the 1990's, was apparently therefore considered to have committed war crimes because of her support for Taylor. Not expressing regret over those actions was apparently enough to land her on the list of politicians banned from holding future office in Liberia.
Or that's how it was initially. Since the report's release last Tuesday (and the firestorm of criticism that followed), the TRC retracted its report. What will happen next seems by all accounts to be completely unclear.
What does all this mean? As Chris Blattman points out, for one thing, it serves as a good lesson for Westerners that there are very few angels or demons in politics everywhere, including African countries. (As he also notes, how the Truth and Reconciliation Commission would purport to enforce the ban is far from clear.) It is almost always more complicated than it seems.
Glenna Gordon at Scarlett Lion has a great piece that explains what happened and why in much greater detail. Can any readers with Liberia expertise enlighten us further?