16 January 2013

Liberia: Taylor Demands U.S.$25,000 Monthly

Photo: Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera television news records the moment Charles Taylor was sentenced.

Former President Charles Taylor has written a three-page communication to the Liberian Senate, requesting for benefits, including cash, diplomatic protection, and diplomatic passports for his family members as well as support staff as 21st President of Liberia.

Mr. Charles Taylor's communication, read in Plenary Tuesday, January 15, 2013, sparked serious commotion among members of the Liberian Senate.

It all started when the Assistant Secretary of the Liberian Senate, Madam Genive Massaquoi, who was conducting the affairs of the first sitting of plenary, suddenly stopped, and later introduced her boss, Secretary Nagbolor Singbe to read the communication from the former President, who is facing a 50-year sentence in British jail after he was convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone for aiding and abetting RUF rebels in that country.

The Senate Chamber, which is noted for heated debate, was conspicuously silent as the secretary read Taylor's communication, dated 3 September 2012.

However, Vice President Joseph Boakai, walked in the chamber to apparently guide the discussion and presided with political maneuvering of not recognizing various senators, whom he suspected, were former officials or allies of Taylor.

Following the reading, the Senate plenary was greeted serious uncontrollable outburst, lasting for about 25 minutes with almost every senator arguing that the issue is a legal matter, and that the court should decide.

Notwithstanding, other senators objected, arguing that the matter is political, and that the government is responsible for the ill-treatment meted against the former President.

Maryland County Senior Senator John Ballout, moved that the Senate should immediately debate the issue and find a resolution, describing it as "sensitive" because it has to do with a former leader of the state. But the motion was rejected on grounds that the every senator should have a copy of the communication to thoroughly read it in order for the body to debate during another sitting.

According to the communication, the 51st Liberian Legislature enacted a act in 2003, which was subsequently signed into law by former President Taylor that "a former President of the Republic, who has honorably retired to private life, and who is not in any way gainfully employed by government, shall receive from government a pension equal to 50 percent of the salary of the incumbent President.

In addition, a former President shall be provided a personal staff and facilities for the remainder of his /her life. The amount allowed for this shall not be less than US$25, 000," the communication said.

"Sadly, I am without notice as to why finance ministers of the Republic have failed and refused to comply with the law of the land as regards my annuities', Mr. Taylor said in his letter.

He noted that the fact is that he had not received his entitlement as set out under the law as a former President of Liberia since his resignation on August 11, 2003, noting that "a reasonable observer, properly informed, would reasonably apprehend bias because there is evidence that some individuals that are covered under this act are receiving their annuities."

Taylor: "I posit that there is the sacred and overriding principle that, justice must not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done. Ultimately, the actions taken so far by Government whether an oversight or contrived, I suggest, reflect on the INTEGRITY and STANDING as regards the appreciation for the RULE of LAW and the FAIR CONDUCT of Government. The practice of selective application of any law of the Republic is in itself a violation of the law."

Taylor is therefore requesting the intervention of the 53rd Legislature to halt "this mammoth injustice", and added, "My wife Mrs. Victoria Taylor along with our three young beautiful daughters and other close members of my family continue to live at our residence "Villa Yassa Zoe" in Congo Town, Montserrado County.

Liberia is, and will always remain our home. I have asked her to meet with the leadership and personally present this letter and avail herself to this Honourable Body and that of the Executive Branch for any further discussions and/or inquiries should the need arise."

According to him, he is entitled to having access to consul and diplomatic services [there] in Europe; but has been denied that right and other privileges customarily giving to former members of first families, including diplomatic passports for wife and children, but cancelled for his (Taylor's) family.

Meanwhile, the Liberian Senate has deferred the debate to next Tuesday, which might lead to an amicable resolution, and that copies of the letter will be circulated to every Senator.

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