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EDITORIAL: Mr. President, Appointing A U.S. Citizen Who Issues Death Threat to Liberia’s Defense Ministry Is A Very Bad Idea

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ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER 18, President George Manneh Weah exercised one of his powers by reshuffling and making additional appointments in his Cabinet.

At least 22 government entities, including the Ministry of National Defense, were affected by the President’s new appointments.

AMONGST THE names mentioned by the President is one noticeable for the subject of this editorial. Mr. Tarplah Z. Davies alias Zoely Zoe was appointed as Deputy Minister for Operations at the Ministry of National Defense. Davies’ appointment is subject to confirmation by the Liberian Senate. This means the ‘people’s representatives’ in the Senate can reject him or can endorse him. Even if he is rejected and the President really wants him serve, he can be appointed as “acting” and can still execute the same functions as the person who is confirmed by the Senate. One downside were he to be appointed as “acting” is that the Senate might never allow him to appear before them to represent the President’s policy on defense, which no president in a democracy would like to condone.

IN ADDITION to all of this, Davies is a US military personnel. He is a ranking officer in the U.S. Army from 2009 to 2019. It is not 100% clear yet whether he is a US citizen or not.

MR. PRESIDENT, we don’t know whether you witnessed this video before making your latest appointment of Zoely Zoe. This is one of your appointments, which have earned you a bad name and have put a dent on your push for dual citizenship. It’s not late you can recall his name like you did when issues were raised against Cllr. Charles Gibson when you appointed him to serve as Justice Minister back in January 2018.

IT IS A PART OF THE US’ policy for a non-citizen to enlist in its military. However, federal law prohibits non-citizens from becoming commission or warrant officers. In order for a non-citizen to enlist in the military, they must first be a legal immigrant (with a green card), permanently residing in the United States.

LIBERIA’S ALIEN and Nationality Law does not recognize individuals who have served in the army of another country as a citizen of Liberia.

RECENTLY, THE Senate recommended in its Dual Citizenship Bill that “A natural-born citizen of Liberia may hold the citizenship of another country but shall not qualify for elected positions and the following appointed positions: Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia; Cabinet Ministers, Deputy Ministers; all heads of Autonomous Commissions, Agencies and Non-Academic/Research/Scientific Institutions and Ambassadors.” 

THOUGH THE Senate’s proposition is yet to become law as this is a constitutional matter, eyebrows are raising over how the Senate would handle the confirmation of Mr. Davies for reasons relating to his threat and his citizenship. 

THE ISSUE OF dual citizenship has been and is a very hot topic that draws mixed reactions in any gatherings that it is being discussed.

In fact, those Liberians, who are apprehensive of having their citizenship law changed to accommodate dual citizens have genuine concerns especially looking at the records of some Liberians who are known dual citizens and what they have done to Liberia in time past.

Days before the President appointed him to serve, the Deputy Defense Minister for Operations-designate had done a social media video in which he made some disparaging comments against some Liberians who he is to protect should he be confirmed by the Senate.

HIS COMMENTS HAVE raised concerns about his state of mind and his loyalty to country or individual. It has also dampened any hope for the dual citizenship debate; and frankly, whether the President realizes it or not his push for the passage of this constitutional matter may receive a huge stumbling block from the public.

PLEDGING HIS LOYALTY to the President in the Facebook video that he made, Davies kicked against one of the fundamentals of modern democracy—peaceful assembly. He reduced the constant protests happening in Liberia for various reasons as a strategy by the protestors to loot and destroy properties in Liberia and make the government appear ugly to the international community.

IN THE LIVE VIDEO, he promised to defend the government of President Weah, his family and others with plans intended to thwart or go against the Liberian Constitution.

“THE SYMBOL OF everything that I have worked for personally is in Liberia. And I told people, anybody tries my property, I will kill them. I have said it and will continue to say it openly,” he stated.

HE ADDED: “I, Zoely Zoe or Tarplah Z. Davies, will never ever sit down in this America when Henry Costa and his likes who are thinking about covertly overthrowing the Government of Liberia and thinking about looting the resources of our country. When they carry out their wicked plan, I will not sit in this America and witness my country in chaos. I will defend my properties, I will defend my government and people, I will defend my family and do everything possible to ensure that those people who have their devilish intention of trying to subvert the Constitution, their plans are reverted and the Constitution will take over. I will never even accept any undemocratic removal of this President George Manneh Weah. If it causes me to risk my life, I will do so.”  

THE DEPUTY DEFENSE Minister for Operations-designate even went as far as threatening to “kill” would-be protesters.

DAVIES’ OPEN threat mirrors exactly what the late Executive Protective Services (EPS) Director Othello Warwick said against Liberian journalists back in 2013 on World Press Freedom Day.

LIBERIAN JOURNALISTS and friends of the media converged in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County to commemorate World Press Freedom Day under the theme: “Media-Security Relations: An Imperative for Consolidating Peace in Liberia,” they were eager to be edified in media and security issues and in this vein anticipated thought-provoking remarks that could highlight the stiff challenges and horrendous defacement. With such fascinating topic, the Press Union of Liberia – an umbrella for journalists and media institutions – was optimistic to cement cordial relationship between media practitioners and state security apparatus in an endeavor to ease journalists’ work to get hold of information, create a level playing field and foster mutual respect.

HOWEVER, TO the utmost surprise of most journalists and scores of other attendees, Warwick took the podium and spewed out venomous threats at members of the ‘fourth estate’ branding them as “terrorists”, “disingenuous” and other provocative utterances. His derogatory speech was further exacerbated when he asserted: “Be careful in questioning the integrity of Liberians. BE CAREFUL, BECAUSE you have your pen and we have our guns. And if you incriminate the character or integrity of Liberians like myself, we would come after you.”

WARWICK’S COMMENTS didn’t go down well with former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf whom he served even though she didn’t remove him from his post. But Warwick didn’t get to be good friend with the media as he tried all he could to use the same media to fix what he had said that his words were taken out of context.

MR. PRESIDENT, we don’t know whether you witnessed this video before making your latest appointment of Zoely Zoe. This is one of your appointments, which have earned you a bad name and have put a dent on your push for dual citizenship. It’s not late you can recall his name like you did when issues were raised against Cllr. Charles Gibson when you appointed him to serve as Justice Minister back in January 2018.

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