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Liberian Democracy Ambushed – Book Review

Book Review

by ralph geeplay           sungbehbook


Political pundit and writer, Tewroh Wehtoe Sungbeh has followed up on his first book, Political Commentary and Reflections on Liberia (2014), as he published his second in 2016. Aptly titled, the name of the book is a forerunner of what to expect in these pages. ‘Liberian Democracy Ambushed’ is a well-timed critique about Liberia, its leaders and the shady concessions the writer says has made these past few years, by compromising the country’s interests for selfish paybacks.

The central theme in Sungbeh’s pontification seems to be recurrent: that the Liberian Presidency has been much force for malevolence than good, since the country’s foundation. Liberian powerful presidency and its leaders he say, have had no interests in a governing strategy that embed democracy where the three branches of government are fully functional with the constitution as a guiding post for parity, the book orates, has led to corrosion in governance and service delivery of Africa’s first independent state and its ability to enhance the rule of law and equity for its citizenry.

Today, because of a centralized political bureaucracy that makes all of the decisions from Monrovia with no interest seemingly to decentralize power, the bureaucracy is stifled as self-seeking Liberian officials and civil servants now seek the favor of the imperial and unaccountable presidency blindingly, as patronage continues to eat away at those core values upon which the country’s foundation rests. Furthermore, the book dialogues that appointed and elected officials curry favors for jobs as they seek brown envelopes to get attention from the presidency, thereby compromising the national interest.

Of keen interest also are the suspicious deaths of Harry Greaves Jr., former Managing Director of the Liberian Petroleum Refining Corporation [LPRC], who was at one point a close friend of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whistleblower Michael Allison, and banker Dan Oragun. Allison and Oragun, both lawyer and banker died within a year, and their deaths were ruled by way of drowning, with the government relying on what seems to be a non-independent autopsy, with no efforts at any serious inquiry and oversight from the legislative branch. The legacy of the True Whig Party [TWP], says the book, has cast a long shadow, as modern Liberian Presidents including Sirleaf still reproducing the tendencies that led Liberia to violence.

‘Liberian Democracy Ambush: How the Liberian Presidents and the Educated Elites Plunged Liberia into Dictatorship, Poverty, War and Underdevelopment’, is a suitable reminder of how the governance process has eroded because institutions are weak, and the three branches of government are still not co-independent and equal as the presidency, and the executive branch continues to interferes and assert it weight to the disadvantage of constitutional democracy. Liberia which is Africa’s oldest country, because of these vices today is perhaps Africa’s least developed after 169 years of independence.

Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh is also editor at The Liberian Dialogue website. His first book, Political Commentary and Reflections on Liberia as mentioned supra, foretold similar leitmotifs. He has so far been consistent.

By advancing in this 201-page paperback that the political elite has betrayed Liberia’s cause, and also betrayed the founding purpose and ideas behind the nation’s birth, Sungbeh in effect is calling for a new political order and new leaders. The book is blunt as it speaks truth to power. It also comes equip with an in-depth bibliography, an improvement over the last.

Praises for Sungbeh’s Book

… a timely and well done expose on Liberia’s perpetually infantile democratic claptrap since nearly 200 years of pseudo-independence, through the eyes of one of its conscientious indigenous sons from amongst the class of Liberians who sincerely believe that Liberia clearly deserves better and that such can be achieved when the current batch of obstructionistpseudo-intellectuals and their internal and external puppet masters exit the national governance scene without further ado. With time Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh’s book will take its rightful place among the emerging peace studies research literature on Liberia…”

Lawrence A. Zumo, MD, Neuroscientist and author of “The Nobody Manifesto and you.”


“Sungbeh has followed developments in his native Liberia for close to three decades, and writing about these vexing historical issues has given him a front row seat as a sober analyst and pundit. LIBERIAN DEMOCRACY AMBUSHED is a compelling and provocative read for all those interested in Liberia and its recent history. An interesting book indeed.”

The Liberian Listener





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