Liberia: Parallel State?

-As President Weah & VP Taylor Sent Separate Congratulatory Messages To US President and Vice President-Elect

Serious debate ensued on Monday November 9, 2020 as President George Weah and his Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor sent separate congratulatory messages to the President and Vice President-elect of the United States of America.

Liberians who called on various radio stations alleged that the separate congratulatory messages from the President Weah and his VP is a clear demonstration that they are running a 'parallel state.'

The "parallel state" is a term coined by American historian Robert Paxton to describe a collection of organizations or institutions that are state-like in their organization, management and structure, but are not officially part of the legitimate state or government. "Parallel States" is also a study into the possibility of uniting one country while giving them two states parallel to each other in power and representation.

This situation appears strange to many Liberians who voiced that they haven't seen such attitude anywhere for the president and his vice president to do such without congratulating as a single government.

They further alleged that the Vice President and President are not on good terms as evidenced by their actions in sending separate message of felicitations, saying Liberia has descended into a 'parallel state' under the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).

President Weah's Message:

On Saturday November 7, 2020, The President of the Republic, George Manneh Weah congratulated U.S. President-elect Joe Biden following his victory in that country's recent Presidential election.

The Liberian leader also congratulated Senator Kamala Harris, who was elected as the first female and first black Vice President of the United States. He said Vice President-Elect Harris' election will serve as an inspiration to all women and people of color that they can become whatever they aspire to with determination, commitment and hard work.

"As Liberia's traditional ally, we stand ready to further enhance and rekindle our long, historic and unique bilateral relations," President Weah said.

VP Taylor's Message:

On her official page, the office of the Vice President said "Heartfelt congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris of the United States of America. Again, the American people have spoken so profoundly of their belief in democracy and have demonstrated that America is indeed the leader of the Free World."

She also said "A Special congratulation goes to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris who will be the first Indian American, the first African American, and first female Vice President in the United States history. She is undoubtedly the highest-ranking female elected official in the United States. Her election is not just historical, but gives renewed hope and inspiration for women across the world, to keep fighting for a space at the table of leadership. I look forward to working with Madam Harris on issues of women empowerment and gender equality."

Article 50 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution states that, "The Executive Power of the Republic shall be vested in the President who shall be Head of State, Head of Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia." Article 51 also states "There shall be a Vice-President who shall assist the President in the discharge of his functions. The Vice-President shall be elected on the same political ticket and shall serve the same term as the President. The Vice-President shall be President of the Senate and preside over its deliberations without the right to vote, except in the case of a tie vote. He shall attend meetings of the cabinet and other governmental meetings and shall perform such functions as the President shall delegate or deem appropriate; provided that no powers specifically vested."

What Liberians Say?

Phoning in on OkayFM afternoon conversation on Monday November 9, 2020, Liberians expressed mixed views of what they called 'parallel state.'

Former Representative and prominent citizen, David Kotee said since he was born and following governments, he has never seen or heard of such thing to happen in Liberia.

For Musa Konneh, a stalwart of the governing CDC and Deputy Director General of the Liberia Agriculture Regulatory Authority (LACRA) said "The agenda of the president is the agenda of the vice President. The vice President does not have her own agenda and must work with what the President has. She must know that the president is the leader of the country."

Another caller only known as Kpah said "If she knew that she never wanted to work with the president, she should have backed off when she was engaged. It is dangerous for her. That Taylor's mentality will not work here."

A caller who calls himself Uncle JK came in defense of the Vice President by saying "The Vice President is not behaving in that way because she wants to. The President has not given her the opportunity to perform as a Vice President. You all saw how the Vice President cried that she was not being paid her salary."

Newton Smith, another caller who phoned in from the United States of America said "I want to agree with the Vice President because the Vice President elect of the US is a female and she is as well black. The president has not respected the vice President; so I say the Vice President was on the right' trajectory.'

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