The leader of the opposition party, Movement for Progressive Change or MPC says an MPC-led government would seek house arrest for jailed ex-Liberian president Charles Ghankay Taylor.
Mr. Taylor currently serves 50 years sentence in Britain after his conviction by the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone for aiding and abetting RUF rebels. MPC leader businessman Simeon Freeman says if elected President of Liberia comes October, he would exert his influence in the international community to have Taylor released from prison and placed under house arrest rather than being in foreign jail.
He gave the promise in a news conference on Monday, April 18, 2017 at his political headquarters in the Monrovia suburb of Airfield. He said the tradition in Liberia that if a president came to power, his immediate priority is to go after his predecessor should be abolished, adding the people that are in power will not want to leave, because their fear is their successor will go after them or they will try in whatever way to create a successor that will favor them.”
Mr. Simeon cited the Federal republic of Nigeria as an example where he observes, almost all of her past presidents are still alive, and laments, “but for Liberia, we have one and he is at the point of death, because he was given 50 years imprisonment.”
“By God’s willing, if I am President, we will talk to the international community, if we even have to create a probability of Charles Taylor living in a far country under house arrest will be good, those are things we need to do, because we owe it to our country for the betterment of the people of this country.”
He said similar dignity would be accorded to President Sirleaf upon leaving office, if she were afraid of facing prosecution, saying “We want to give her a blank check, it is imperative upon all of us contesting the Presidency not to prosecute any former President of Liberia, not because that person was holy, but because we need to deviate from this tradition.”
Mr. Simeon is the second political leader here after Senator George Weah, standard bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC to comment on Taylor. Sen. Weah recently confirmed that he had held telephone conversation with Mr. Taylor from his prison cell in Britain and maintains that he would accord the former president all courtesies due him as an ex-leader of Liberia.
Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party has formed a coalition with Taylor’s former ruling National Patriotic Party and criminally indicted ex-speaker Alex J. Tyler’s Liberian People Democratic Party (LPDP).
The Senator has also picked Mr. Taylor’s former wife, Jewel Howard Taylor, as his running mate for the Presidency comes October. Recently, an executive member of Weah’s party, MulbahMorlu, told a live broadcast talk show that the CDC will not shy away from Mr. Taylor, which implies that the party is ready to do deal with the jailed ex-president come what may.
Meanwhile, the MPC has rejected calls for the resignation of the Chairman of the National Elections Commission, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, arguing that the nationality of the NEC Chairman should not be the primary focus as the elections draw closer.
“I think what is crucial now is to address the complaint made by the NEC over lack of resources to adequately handle this upcoming elections”, Mr. Simeon emphasizes.
He says NEC has complained in recent months about lack of finance, adding “We can’t be serious about holding elections when the election body doesn’t have money to conduct elections.”
He says what the government should focus on at this crucial moment is how best it could reduce fabulous salaries of officials, including huge allowances and gas slips to empower the NEC financially to conduct free, fair, and transparent elections in October.
By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne