At long last Coalition for Democratic Change standard bearer Senator George Weah has confirmed widespread reports here that he spoke with incarcerated former President Charles Taylor via telephone from his prison cell in Britain.
The Montserrado County Senator broke the prolonged silence on the Taylor issue in an interview Tuesday, 13 March at his Capitol Building office in Monrovia. The confession comes months after the former chief of investigation for the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, Alan White, revealed that he had information from credible sources that Taylor was interfering with the 2017 elections in Liberia.
Senator Weah, whose Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) recently joined ranks with Taylor’s former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) and indicted ex-speaker Tyler’s Liberia People Democratic Party (LPDP) in a marriage dubbed Coalition for Democratic Change with Taylor’s ex-wife Jewel as his running mate, acknowledged speaking with the former President.
“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,” - Allen White said.
However, responding to a reporter’s question about his alleged ties with the former President and whether he had spoken with Taylor from his cell, Weahexplained that out of courtesy for the former President, he did in fact speak to him on a phone owned by one of Taylor’s relatives herebased on request from Taylor himself.
“Someone who is closed to President Taylor was on the phone in our strategic meeting and informed me that Taylor had requested to speak with me and I agreed. I picked up the phone and said Mr. President how you are? He was the President of the Republic of Liberia no matter what happens I must give him that due courtesy and say hello. If President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf leaves today and she wants to speak with me, I’ll speak to her no matter. He’s still a Liberian and it is my duty to speak to every Liberian”, Weah maintained.
According to him, he chose the former first lady Senator Jewel Howard Taylor as running mate because he feels that it is important to have a woman on the party’s ticket.
“I am not a friend of Taylor; he was the President of the Republic of Liberia, (one who) I respected. We didn’t and don’t have any personal friendship but as President, every time we met, I gave him due courtesy because he did the same for me,” Weah added.
Since the claims of Taylor meddling in Liberian politics came about two months ago, specifically having telephone discussion with Weah, this is his first public comment, confirming that they did talk, but gave no detail of the discussion, which may have led him to pick Sen. Taylor as his running mate.
In response to the development, the Government of Liberia thru the Ministry of Information subsequently requested the British Government to investigate Taylor’s reported activities in Liberia from his cell in Britain.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne