Liberia: Kofi Woods Details Behind the scenes discussion that spurred 2005 speculations
Monrovia – For a brief period prior to the 2005 Presidential elections, speculations were rife about a potential presidential ticket featuring football legend George Weah and human rights activist, Samuel Kofi Woods.
Report by Rodney D. Sieh,
For the first time in years, Attorney Woods, in an exclusive interview with FrontPageAfrica is setting the record straight about behind-the-scenes discussions and efforts to form what some say would have been a formidable pairing in those elections.
Not Original Founder of CDC
Attorney Woods said, at the time he was approached by several major players in the presidential race, including former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who sought to recruit him as a running mate.
“In the spirit of full disclosure just say for the sake of full disclosure, before the 2005 elections there were several discussions held with me,” Attorney told FrontPageAfrica this week. “I was approached by the Sirleaf people – to run with her, I was approached by people from the Brumskine camp and various camps to be a running mate. I was also approached by some of my friends to contest the 2005 elections.”
Attorney Woods said he had several meetings with Weah prior while dismissing widely-held perceptions that he was a founding member of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). “I want to say this because there is information floating around that I was one of the founders of the Congress for Democratic Change – that is not true. Let them not give me that credit because I don’t deserve it and I was not one of the founders.”
Attorney Woods said he met Weah prior to even him being petitioned or prior to the formation of the CDC. “We met – and even met in Florida at his house and others. We met there. Now, there are two persons who continue to work in this government that can relate. Samuel Tweah, James Kollie, the third person that is not in government is a young man called Varney Kennedy who I think is still around. They approached me and requested that I run to be President of Liberia. This was back around 2003. I told them that I had been in exile for several years and I did not think I was prepared to run as President. Few weeks later, some of them approached Weah – and had a discussion – and they had approached me earlier and they felt that I was important. They convened a meeting in Minnesota and we had general discussions about the future of Liberia and we agreed to meet in Florida.”
Attorney Woods said he went to that meeting along with some colleagues and friends with an open mind. “We went to Florida and met with Weah for two days, we had a good discussion. In fact, we had a very long discussion – and some of those discussions were centered around the need the contest political power. Weah and I met – the both of us met together, alone, contrary to what people are saying and landed on a note to continue the conversation. So, at that point we did not have a disagreement.”
‘We disagreed on Approach’
Attorney Woods added that there was a general discussion in which he learned that Weah was interested and that he would be petitioned for the presidency. “The fellas at the meeting said, “look, we cannot discuss anything about leadership here now. We want to promote democracy. It is important to get to Liberia, establish institutions and compete internally – that is the democratic process. I don’t think that was welcomed by some of those around – including Weah himself. So, we split and went our different ways – and since then we’ve never had a conversation in terms of merging or anything else. I don’t recall any further discussion on that issue as far as I’m concerned.”
The human rights activist also dismissed reports that it was he and Cllr. Jerome Verdier, Chair of the erstwhile Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) who initially gave Weah the idea of running for the presidency. “That’s not true, that is not true. I didn’t know about Weah being petitioned. “
Attorney Woods said he had some apprehensions when Weah asked him if he was interested in having him on his team. “It was Weah who informed me that he was being petitioned and he asked me to join his team and I said “how well do you know me?” I asked him that question three times – “you want me to be part of your team, do you know me politically?” All he said was, “I’ve heard a lot about you and I have a lot of respect for you. I told him, well, you need to know me politically and we need to get to know each other. I don’t get in a political relationship just as a matter of power. There has to be a clear line on principles and values – and we talked and that was it. There is a lot of misinformation. We met in Florida, we disagreed on the approach and how he wanted to pursue it. I didn’t go to him and Verdier did not go to Weah to tell him or encourage him to be president.