In his press statement (Front Page Africa, March 16, 2017), Senator George Weah said “I spoke to Taylor recently during one of our Coalition meetings . . . and said Mr. President, how are you . . . I must give him due courtesy and say hello”.
What are the political Implications?
Although “there was no law broken” by the telephone conversation between two prominent, Liberian citizens, Mr. Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia and Honorable George Weah, Montserrado County Senator, but this article takes reflective look at the recent facts of history concerning these honorable gentlemen for possible answer to the question.
Firstly, Mr. Charles McArthur Taylor is not just another “Joe Blow” citizen of Liberia, but the convicted-felon serving a 50-year prison term in maximum security facility in the United Kingdom for political Crimes against Humanity, committed in the sister Republic of sierra Leone while serving as President of Liberia.
Simultaneously, in Liberia, there were, also, political crimes against humanity committed by the Charles Taylor-led NPFL/INPFL in which not only an estimated quarter of million Liberians were killed, massive looting, theft of public/private properties and mind-boggling destruction of the nation’s meagre infrastructure, but also, that known perpetrators of these crimes are still running around in Liberia and the world community with characteristic impunity, as ordained “Honorables”.
Meanwhile, the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) “roadmap” enacted by Liberian Law for administration of Transitional Justice - trial and punishment of the guilty with amnesty given to those such amnesty is due - in the post-conflict, democratic environment, has (that TRC Roadmap) been, and is now, gathering dust in the offices of the “Honorables”.
Moreover, there are hundreds of millions of Liberians displaced in neighboring and distant countries’ refugee camps, with millions more who fled the Taylor-led atrocities and took up naturalized citizenships of foreign countries.
And secondly, comes the Honorable George Weah who is not only Montserrado County Senator, but also, declared candidate for president of Liberia for the third time, with claims to be leader of a grass-roots-based political party, the CDC. As Flag Bearer, he stood for President two times (2005 & 2011) and lost to Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on each occasion.
During the 2005 campaign, Mr. Weah was accused by a coalition of Liberians of being foreign citizen (the Republic of France). That issue, with many others, was handled with “kid gloves” by the-then NEC and swept under the rugs. In today’s third run campaign, Mr. Weah has been accused, by a member of his CDC and others, with photograph of a US passport, of being US citizen. That issue, again, was swept under the rugs by the Cllr. Korkoyah-led NEC, with the Counselor, himself, now stands accused of being US citizen by a prominent leader of a political party. There has been no response from the Counselor-Chairman of the NEC.
Due to lack of requisite political training, experience and political leadership finesse, the Soccer-legend, Mr. George Weah with CDC, sought alliances with the gurus – Lawyer/Diplomat/Politician, Cllr. Winston Tubman and Corporate Lawyer/Politician, Cllr. Charles Brumskine of the Liberty Party. These alliances fizzled and the Soccer-legend-turned Politician withdrew to himself into the CDC, desperate for political power at all and any cost, apparently, including selling his soul to the devil.
Mr. George Weah was appointed Peace Ambassador and National Reconciliation Chairman by none other than his political opponent, two times, at the highest level, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia. He was given, reportedly, US $5 million for operations. In a MICAT press briefing, Mr. Weah declared that he will use international Soccer Stars to effect national reconciliation. Since then, we have heard nothing about national reconciliation until after Senator Weah’s celebrated, press-reported telephone contact with Mr. Charles Taylor.
The press reports quote Mr. Menikpake Dumoe, CDC Coalition Assistant Secretary for Press & Propaganda (who was probably present at Coalition meeting in which the telephone call to Mr. Taylor was made and he, Mr. Dumoe who, probably, gave the telephone device to Senator Weah) was quoted as saying, “the CDC leader’s (Senator Weah’s) communication with the former President . . . is a manifestation that the Coalition is ready to reconcile Liberia. Speaking with Charles Taylor . . . means that the Coalition for Democratic Change is ready to reconcile Liberians, no matter who they are or what they did; we are not going to go after anybody. We do not want war Crime Court to divide us . . .”
“Apparently desperate for political power”, Senator George Weah and the CDC Coalition are getting or have gotten into the shadow - socio-cultural, economic and political control/manipulation of a socially-rebellious, flamboyant play-boy, also political power & money addict and center-stage seeker, now an internationally-convicted political crime
criminal - by taking his (Mr. Charles Taylor’s) ex-wife for Vice Presidential running mate on the CDC Coalition ticket, with George Weah as president, maybe not long, but likely, Vice President.
The CDC Coalition’s (or Dumoe’s) Notion of Reconciliation
In the context of the Liberian, political community that experienced an illegal, armed conflict in which all of us, Liberians, an overwhelming majority, suffered the impact of Charles Taylor-led criminal “freedom fighters”, a tiny minority’s escapades of hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens brutally tortured, maimed, raped and summarily executed, the families of the dead, loved ones, the living victims of this cruel adventure, with known perpetrators still walking around with impunity, a court of law is the proper, traditional approach for trial and punishment of the guilty as remedy for the dead, loved ones, living victims of the conflict. This approach is also traditional, moral house-cleaning that sends out the message, loud and clear, that no one is above the law.
The approach is, finally, national reconciliation, because it unites the people with security, once divided, and rehabilitates, with amnesty, perpetrators of human rights violations. Accordingly, Reconciliation, like the famous, South American dance, tango, (“takes two to tango”) takes two to be successful; that is, that it takes the coming together of the victim(s) of the wrongful acts (human rights violators) on the one hand, and the confessed, remorseful, guilty ones of the wrongful acts, on the other, come together, under the auspices of the national government to “settle the quarrel and re-establish friendly relations” – peaceful co-existence, mutual understanding, respect and cooperation - or national reconciliation.
But according to CDC Coalition Assistant Secretary for Press & Propaganda, the Coalition’s notion of Reconciliation is to do nothing, no War Crime Court, continue the process of impunity and most importantly, deliver the government to the leaders of the very same perpetrators of Liberia’s historic, very serious human rights violations. This approach is not an opposition to the out-going Government of Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, but “new wine in old bottle”, with the theme of “business as usual” and “stay the course”.
The only new scenario is that of Mr. Charles Taylor who, like the convicted and imprisoned Mafia Don, continues to run the affairs of Brotherhood from behind bars with iron-hand.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are that of the writer and not of the paper