6 December 2012

Liberia: No Budget for Weah?

Photo: allAfrica.com
George Weah

There is no allotment in the budget to fund George Weah's peace initiative, the House Chairman on Executive, Rep. George Wesseh Blamo of Gradn Kru County alarmed, a day after it was announced that the Congress for Democratic Change or CDC political leader had accepted his preferment by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to serve as Peace Ambassador.

The government announced Tuesday that Weah had accepted his appointment by President Sirleaf to serve as Ambassador for peace and reconciliation here.

But Rep. Wesseh who spoke to this paper via mobile phone after making similar disclosure on a local radio station said the state will not fund any institution of government that is not legislated or statutory.

He said such move will violate the 2012/2013 budget law. However, he said it is possible that the Government will find other means to sponsor the peace and reconciliation initiatives that will be headed by Weah outside of the national budget.

His comment comes as a shock, leaving behind a debate as to whether Mr. Weah is replacing Ms. Leymah Gbowee who resigned as head of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee or is going to serve in a different capacity, because the Liberian Government through the Finance Ministry allotted US$5 Million in this year's budget for peace and reconciliation.

But Rep. Blamo said this amount will only be channeled through the Internal Affairs Ministry, something that seems to be more political then reconciliatory.

However, in an interview with the Voice of America or VOA, earlier on Wednesday, CDC National Chairman George Solo said Weah, by virtue of his acceptance, will also take over the chairmanship of the National Reconciliation Commission because he believes the national interest supersedes the interest of any one individual.

"I believe he will be the chief patron of the roadmap for national reconciliation, and I think Ambassador Weah is well-placed to handle the reconciliatory process because he is one of the aggrieved parties who has agreed to put his personal qualms on hold in the interest of Liberia. I think this is a symbol of patriotism that needs to be congratulated and emulated," Solo said.

Weah, as standard bearer of the CDC, came second in the 2005 presidential election. In 2011, he ran as the party's vice presidential candidate, and the party again finished second.

Solo said Weah's acceptance of the position does not mean that the Congress for Democratic Change has abandoned its desire to be Liberia's ruling party. Instead, he said it solidifies the party's ambition.

"I don't think this changes the dimension of the opposition of the Congress for Democratic Change to the ills in our society. I don't think this changes the perspective and psychology of the Congress for Democratic Change of equal rights and accountability and proper governance."

"I think this further manifests that we are willing to stand up for all these positions and highlight all these necessary changes in our society, with the frame of mind that the bedrock for all of these different implementations and exhibition of our civil liberty need to be on the basis of peace," Solo said.

Solo said the CDC, as Liberia's leading opposition party, was somewhat consulted about the government's National Vision 2030.

"One of the things that the Congress for Democratic Change has maintained is that, if you make us stakeholders and consultative partners in the early stages of implementation, we are more than happy to give our input, and we hope that these inputs are taken genuinely."

"But, if you do not do that and present these implementations and they pose a threat to what we see as the harmonization of our society, then we will fight against it," Solo said.

Also, commenting on the appointment of Ambassador Weah, the Vice Chairman for Operations, Mr. Mulbah Morlu said that the appointment of Weah is not CDC but instead for the Liberian people.

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