Liberia: U.S. ‘Unhappiness’ with Pres. Weah Forces Government to Settle Scores with Rep. Kolubah; Condemn Threats from Ex-Rebels
MONROVIA – FrontPageAfrica has gathered that it took the intervention of the United States and a stern note to President George Manneh Weah, to calm the tension that was brewing over the contemplation to arrest Representative Yekeh Kolubah for his remarks made against the Weah’s leadership.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
A diplomatic source familiar with the discussions between Washington the Liberian government told FrontPageAfrica that the Americans consider the tolerance and incorporation of ex-fighters by this administration far more disturbing to governance compared to the missing banknotes.
“The U.S. government has been following keenly the developments in Liberia in recent times. What I can say is that by all indications, the U.S. isn’t comfortable, especially with the boldness of the ex-rebels who are issuing open threats. This has the propensity to cause panic amongst the people and can even derail years of gains,” the source said.
FrontPageAfrica was reliably informed that it was the intervention of the U.S. that led to the harmonious meeting held between Representative Yekeh Kolubah and Ministry of Justice and subsequently with President Weah.
According to the source, prior to the meetings, the Government of Liberia had resolved to arrest the lawmaker to provide clarity on his statements which were deemed threatening to the presidency.
But what struck the attention of the Liberia’s most important ally were remarks coming from former rebels who are notoriously remembered for mayhem committed against armless and helpless citizens during the war.
Rep. Kolubah had accused the former rebels of receiving money from Liberia’s Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel McGill for the purpose of going after people who constantly criticize President George Weah.
But speaking to journalists at their National Headquarters on Benson Street, Monrovia on Tuesday, April 16, the ex-generals said as they did for former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf during her 12 years, they are obligated to supporting any legitimate government.
According to them, their rights to support legitimate governments.
“The same thing we did for Madam Sirleaf for the past 12 years we can do the same thing for President Weah and whosoever that will come after President Weah, we will support that president,” said G. Benjamin Taylor, former chief of staff of the former MODEL rebel faction.
Siafa Norman, former Chief of Staff of Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia who is now a stalwart of National Patriotic Party (NPP) – one of the collaborating parties in the ruling party, added that the allegation by Rep. Kolubah diminished their character across the country.
Norman said they went through the Disarmament Disintegration Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR) process and for more than a decade they have been good citizens.
“We want these people to refrain from those statements. It will cause chaos and will derail the peace of this country,” Norman warned.
If you have any political intention, transform your intention politically, go across the country and present programs to our people so that you can be able to raise the necessary votes to vote President Weah out for the next election.”
Daniel Bracewell, a former major general of the AFL, called on politicians to avoid anything that will disrupt the peace in Liberia.
“We ex-generals, we know war, we fought the war, we make war, we study war. If anyone thinks that they are coming in to derail this peace process they will have us to contend with,” said Bracewell.
Downplaying U.S. Congress Resolution 1053?
The comments coming from ex-warlord and the government’s lackadaisical posture in condemning the threats has risen further concern that the Liberian government is not taking the U.S. Congress Resolution 1053 seriously.
Congress Resolution 1053 calls the full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) recommendations, including the establishment of an extraordinary criminal tribunal for Liberia, an issue that President Weah has tried his best to avoid.
The President has consistently maintained that he remains convinced that such dialogues are essential in bringing lasting healing, reconciliation and unity to the Liberian people, adding that his agenda is not one of division but one intended to provide an enabling environment so that a united and reconciled people can enjoy the economic dividends of peace.
In a statement Monday, the MOJ, on behalf of the government, acknowledged the retraction and apology the ex-combatants who threatened the lawmaker. “The Government wishes to clarify that members of the group do not form part of the security apparatus of the country and are therefore, not state actors. The Government warns that it will not hesitate to apply the full weight of the law against private citizens who usurp the functions of national security institutions or actors. All peace-loving citizens are advised to heed to this warning. Members of the public are encouraged and advised to go about their normal business and be assured that the Government is firmly in control of the peace and security of the nation.”
Weah Proving a Point
The meeting between President Weah and his most fierce critic, Rep. Kolubah, according to an Executive Mansion source, was intended for Pres. Weah to prove to “Uncle Sam to his commitment to peace and reconciliation after Uncle Sam raised the concern about the heightening tension”.
“The U.S. had expressed their disappointment in the manner and form in which things were being handled by the administration. They were unhappy with the stance the government was taking against the lawmaker and they encouraged the government to be tolerant of dissenting opinions,” the source said.
Accordingly, the meeting between the pair was very cordial as admitted to by Rep. Kolubah who has insisted that he remains resolute on his stance on national issues.
According to sources privy to the discussions, the President expressed his unhappiness over the manner in which the lawmaker had rained insults on him since he assumed the mantle of authority.
The President, one source said made it clear to the lawmaker that he has no intentions of stifling free speech or the press, issuing an inaugural-day pledge in which he pledged to preside over a nation where each and every Liberian would be free to air their views without fear or favor and recalled how some critics were imprisoned during the previous administration of President Sirleaf.
The President went on to say that he is not against criticism but minus the insults – because as he reportedly put it, according to the source, “we are all leaders”.
Rep. Kolubah used his time to address a number of issues on his chest. In particular the wave of attacks from surrogates of the President and the manner in which House Speaker Bophal Chambers was running the affairs of the lower House in the national legislature.
Rep. Kolubah stated that he had nothing personal against the president because the two of them had never interacted before. His main concern, the lawmaker averred, was to draw attention to how the Speaker was running the affairs of the lower House by allowing those who oppose him to perform their duties. “I was transferring aggression because of Chambers attitude toward him and other lawmaker while raising my opposition to the way the government was being run,” Rep. Kolubah reportedly told the President.