It appears that the strained relationship between President George Manneh Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor is far from being resolved, as demonstrated Monday, 13 January by the conspicuous absence of the Vice President, who is also President of the Liberian Senate, from the formal opening of the 3rd Session of the Liberian Legislature at the Capitol.
Both leaders have been far apart at official public functions in the past two years of the administration with President Weah being on record of frowning at Mrs. Taylor for making travels abroad without his knowledge amid unauthenticated rumors that the former First Lady has ambition to become President of Liberia.
Mrs. Taylor has dismissed such speculations as unfounded.
However, at the close of 2019, Vice President Taylor publicly complained over decision by the Executive to grossly slice her budget for the fiscal period.Public attention grew here Monday, when President Weah addressed members of both the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate in joint session for formal opening of the 3rd session of the 54th Legislature without the presence of the Vice President.
In fulfillment of constitutional requirement that the Legislature shall resume work on second Monday of each year, the leadership of the Capitol, including Speaker Bhofal Chambers, Senate President Pro-Tempore Albert Chie, heads of foreign missions, development partners, members of the judiciary and the cabinet gathered to witness the historic event, but to the shock of many, the vice president, who was expected to deliver a speech at the ceremony, was conspicuously absent, something, that has been described as an apparent protest to the slicing of her allotment in the National Budget.
Formal hosting of the national flag on the grounds of the Capitol during the ceremony on Monday delayed unusually only to discover that the leadership of the both houses waited aimlessly for VP Taylor’s arrival.
Speculation gathered from the grounds of the Capitol among lawmakers and some influential senior staffers hinted this paper that Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor had reportedly boycotted on grounds that her budgetary allocation for 2019/20 was deeply cut by officials of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.
When the Office of Vice President Taylor was contacted on the allegation, the Press Secretary to the Vice President, Richmond Neufville explained that his boss had written Senate President Pro-Tempore Chie about her absence.
Neufville notes that it would be very decent for the Pro-Tempore to speak to matter rather than him, insisting that he was not instructed to discuss the content of the communication with the media.
When also quizzed about the Vice President’s health and her travels, he explains that VP Taylor is well and in the country.
However, during the ceremony, Pro-Tempore Albert Chie disclosed that Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor could not attend the ceremony due to some emergency issues.
Also when this paper contacted the offices of the Pro-Tempore about the communication from the VP, a senior staffer, Furcas Wilson, he was not instructed to comment.He added that his boss was attending a lunch meeting with President Weah in the rotunda of the Capitol, so the Pro-Tempore was indisposed to provide instruction.
However, Mr. Wilson promised to provide copy of the vice president’s letter to this paper today, January 14, if he’s given the opportunity.There are reports that for about five months now, staffers of the vice president are yet to be paid by the Ministry Finance and Development Planning.
Since the ascendency of the Coalition for Democratic Change led-government to power, relationship between Vice President Taylor and President Weah have not been too rosy.
The Coalition for Democratic Change is a conglomeration of Congress for Democratic Change of President George Manneh Weah, the National Patriotic Party of Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor and former Speaker Alex Tyler of the Liberian People Democratic Party. By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Editing by Jonathan Browne