16 January 2013

Liberia: Give Up Role - UP's George Wisner Urges Amb. Weah

A former Assistant Minister for Afro-Asian Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, George Gyude Wisner, is calling on Peace Ambassador George Manneh Weah to either relinquish his political role as Standard Bearer of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) or resign his recently appointed position as peace ambassador.

Mr. Wisner observed that while the appointment of Ambassador Weah by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf may be well intentioned, his political role as Standard Bearer of the CDC, as well as his ambition to stand in the 2014 senatorial elections and future elections, will politicize the reconciliation process.

"This will invariably prejudice any reconciliation initiative by Mr. Weah who will be perceived by his political rivals as a competitor," Mr. Wisner, Campaign Coordinator for President Sirleaf's Second Term Bid in the 2011 election said.

He recalled a similar predicament that befell Mr. Weah when he declared his preference to run as a candidate in the 2005 presidential election while still serving as a United Nations Children Agency's (UNICEF) goodwill ambassador. Mr. Wisner recalled at that time, Mr. Weah's goodwill ambassadorial role was withdrawn by UNICEF to avoid conflict of interest and allow Mr. Weah concentrate on his political career.

Mr. Wisner, now pursuing post-graduate studies in Australia, also recalled when President Sirleaf was also forced to relinquish her role with the UN to pursue her political agenda in Liberia.

"Therefore," Mr. Wisner stressed, "it is only fair and honorable for Mr. Weah to do the right thing by giving up one of his roles;" adding further, "To insist on holding on to both positions will signal bad faith and an abuse of the confidence President Sirleaf may have in him for which she appointed him to such post."

A former student activist and former president of the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY) further indicated that peace and reconciliation are critical matters for Liberia right now and all patriotic citizens should rise above themselves and put the national interest first. "It is incumbent upon political leaders and would-be statesmen, in particular, to demonstrate leadership and virtue by removing any and all impediments in the way of genuine reconciliation," he cautioned.

Meanwhile, Mr. Wisner is recommending that the Liberian President creates an expanded Reconciliation Commission comprising of at least seven eminent Liberians drawn across social, political, economic and demographic lines to drive the process without prejudice or politics. "Such Commission should be a full time occupation and should be given autonomous status with fixed term of reference," he suggested.

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