16 March 2017

Liberia: Weah Admits Speaking With Taylor

The Standard Bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Montserrado County Senator, George Weah,says he has spoken with ex-Liberian president Charles Taylor, but denied having 'personal relationship' with the ex-warlord, who's currently serving a 50 prison sentence in Britain, for war crimes and other violations he committed in neighboring Sierra Leone.

The Coalition presidential hopeful made the disclosure Tuesday to journalists following the submission of his ECOWAS report which has been endorsed by the Senate plenary.

However, Weah denied having personal relationship with the former Liberian leader as was alleged recently by the former chief of investigation for the United Nations Special Court for Sierra Leone, Alan White.

Weah Senator Weah admitted that he held conversation on the telephone with Mr. Taylor recently but that such a conversation should not be misinterpreted to mean that he has a relationship with the ex-president.

"I was in a gathering and one of Mr. Taylor's relative was in conversation with him (Taylor), and the guy walk up to me and gave me the phone saying President Taylor wants to talk to you; so I held the phone and spoke to him," Senator Weah told journalists who quizzed him on a number of national issues recently.

Senator Weah said there is nothing wrong when you speak to a former leader of your country, noting that he could do the same to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf when she leaves the presidency.

He asserted that it is always good to be respectful to your leaders whether they are in power or not.

The former chief of investigation for the United Nations Special Court for Sierra Leone, Alan White, recently alleged he has received information from credible sources that former President Charles Taylor is interfering with the 2017 election in Liberia.

Mr. White claimed that Mr. Taylor has been in discussion with Senator Weah who recently signed an agreement to join forces with Jewel Taylor - Taylor's former wife - to support seeking the presidency and the vice presidency. George will be at the top of the ticket" - Allen White

White made the startling revelation during a VOA Nightline interview recently.

"The allegations and sourced information that I'm receiving is that Charles Taylor, the former President - indicted and convicted war criminal for his actions in Sierra Leone and the leader of the RUF - is interfering with the elections.

According to White, Weah has been having discussions with Charles Taylor on ensuring that there would never be a war crimes court established in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

"There are also other allegations that when he [Taylor] left, there were millions of dollars that were buried and left behind so whoever gets elected and they seek to get his sentenced reduced and to get him back in Liberia will be worth that while," White added.

Referencing the 2008 Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations which called for restorative and retributive justice, White said - there have been only two people who have been publicly in support of retributive and restorative justice and that has been the current vice President who is running for President and Benoni Urey. None of the others that I am aware have supported restorative and retributive justice."

However, Senator Weah told journalists that his conversation with Mr. Taylor had nothing to do with the Coalition's decision to select Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, the wife of the ex-Liberian warlord as his vice presidential running mate in the ensuring general and presidential elections scheduled for October 2017.

"I have known Jewel for a very long time when she was in the United States, I'vehave known her family well, even before former President Taylor could take her as his wife; she is the best choice as vice president on the ticket of the Coalition," Weah stressed.

Accordingly, Weah said it will be unfair to deny Senator Taylor of being his running mate because of her link with the ex-president Taylor. "We shouldn't try to tie Senator Taylor to the deeds of ex-president Taylor," he pointed out.

He added that Jewel's selection was a difficult decision to make because several individuals in the coalition with wealth of experiences and credentials were vying for the post as well.

Quizzed by journalists regarding the code of conduct, he said the decision of the Supreme Court must be respected since Liberia is a country of law.

Senator Weah said he feared the code of conduct at the time it was crafted and he had to resign his position as Peace Ambassador to contest the presidency.

He termed the situation of those who are affected by the code of conduct as unfortunate and added that the law must be adhered to by individuals vying for the presidency.

He disclosed that he has sponsored several bills at the legislature including the electricity compact bill and has undertaken several projects from markets construction to drainages, among others.

Senator Weah believes that his love for Liberia and its people over the years makes him well placed to lead the country comes 2018.

He expressed confidence of being Liberia's next president come October 2017, stressing "I performed well in 2005 and I am very certain about winning this time around based on my relationship with the Liberian people."


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