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Liberia: Vice Pres. Howard Taylor Distances Herself from Council of Patriots

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Monrovia – Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor has termed as wicked and diabolical people linking her to the Council of Patriots (COP) and accusing her of making efforts to destabilize the current government which she serves in as Vice President.

The Vice President was responding to a question base on concerns on local radio stations that she and COP members are working together. The COP, which has disclosed plans to hold a “Weah step-down” campaign in December of this year, was the group that organized the June 7 #SavetheState protest action against President George Weah’s administration. 

That June 7 protest drew thousands of Liberians from all walks of life into the street and paralyzed the nation’s economy for the entire day. 

Reponding to the concern of her link, the VP said, “I made a conscious choice to be a part of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and I know better. There is no way that I Jewel Howard Taylor have ever been or will ever be a part of trying to destabilize this government. I think people spreading those rumors are wicked and diabolical people.”

Despite the disclaimer, VP Taylor believes that the issues raised by the opposition should be looked at with interventions made by government where necessary. She urged those in governance space to do their very best to bring growth and development to Liberia.

“There are other issues I am involved with. I am a developmentally-oriented person. Even during the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration, I was critical on issues. I will never, not in the past, not in the future, I will be involved in bringing down this government.

“The young people who are in COP are doing their own thing for whatever reasons. I think we should engage them and find out what the issues are so we can resolve them. I did not lobby for this position; I was asked; people saw the value I have and asked us to join so I cannot bring down what I give birth to.”

War Crimes 

On the issue of the establishment of a court to prosecute those who bear the greatest responsibilities of the civil war and other economic crimes in Liberia, the Vice President said that is a decision that will be made by the people through their representatives as President Weah has already written the Legislature seeking their advise on the way forward.

“The issue of the war and economic crimes court, this is actually a national issue that Liberians must decide. The President has submitted a letter and the Legislature will begin to look at it and do what the people want. There are a lot of talks on the radio, I think the debate is healthy.”

Recently President Weah wrote the Legislature to advise him on the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations that include the setting up of a war crimes court. The move is officially Liberia’s first ever step towards addressing the legacy of its 14-year civil war that killed an estimated 250,000 people and displaced more than a million.

President Weah said he was acting on recommendations of the just-ended National Economic Dialogue (NED) where 350 delegates in addition other things recommended also called for the full implementation of the TRC report in order to revive the country’s ebbing economy.  

The US$15,000 Debate 

In response to a disclosure made by Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon of the US$15K as the gross monthly benefits of a senator, Vice President said as a Senator she earned US$10,000 monthly and not US$15,000 as claimed by Sen. Dillon.

However, the Vice President is on record of telling some US-based members of the CDC in April 2017 that senators in Liberia were earning US$10,000 as salary and US$2,000 for fueling their vehicles. This amounts to US$12,000.

The VP that day further stated that the amount is not enough because lawmakers often take up paying school fees, hospital bills, house rent, and undertaking funeral rites for their constituents. She even stated that the US$2,000 worth of fuel was not enough to support even three trips to her Bong County, which she had represented in the Legislature.

Working to Pass the Gender Parity Act

The Vice President, who has stood as a strong advocate of women issues, encouraged Senators to act on a provision before them that will allot extra 15 seats exclusively to women in the Senate before going for break which they are expected to take by the 30th of September.

It is one of the many propositions on the docket of the Legislature seeking approval for a referendum. As it stands, the Gender Parity Act that seeks to give exclusive 15 seats to women in the Senate is far from gaining approval as some senators have made open opposition to the bill.

Those senators against the proposal, argue that allotting exclusively 15 seats for women, will increase the already heavy financial burden on the Liberian government. Other senators have asked for reports of best practices from other countries where such practices are occurring or have occurred so that they help to inform them of best practices to follow.

One senator, who could not hold back the way he feels about it is Senator Dallas Gweh of Rivercess County. According to him, any attempt to grant such requests to women will mean they will be creating an exclusive constituency in the Senate that could run against their interests on issues.

Claiming that she is a benefit of Gender participation laws, VP Taylor said: “I am a product of affirmative action.  In 2004, my party, the NPP, refused to place me on the ballot because I am a woman but when the National Elections Commission (NEC) demanded that they include a female because it is the law, they were forced to place me on the ticket. 

“Women are not just asking for seats we are asking for a chance to participate, to have their voices made known, to have the issues of their children brought to the table. There is no great taught in any country than the need to train and capacitate people. The law says if we don’t pass this one year before the referendum then it means this issue is off the table and we have 10 days before we close.”

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