Sirleaf, Prosecutor trade words over her allegedly dubious role in crisis
By John Eche
In what is looking like a replay of the scene after the end of the second Liberian Civil War when an Interim Government led by the businessman, Charles Gyude Bryant had to be put in place before the elections that eventually produced Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as president, there are increasing whispers in the West African nation for a possible revisit of that option.
Issues began to head southwards when only days before a prospective run-off between the two leading candidates in the first round of voting, George Oppong Weah and Joseph Boakai, the Liberty Party and its candidate, Charles Brumskine had approached the courts to totally nullify the polls outcome, citing irregularities in the process.
They were later to be supported in their protests by two other parties and their candidates, Mr. Benoni Urey, standard bearer of the All Liberian Party(ALP) and Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party, the official platform of outgoing President, Madam Ellen Sirleaf.
Since then the court has since called off the run-off polls and with the drawn out processes still underway, Liberia is seemingly headed for a constitutional tipping point where Sirleaf’s tenure could come to a close without a validly acceptable President to step in; hence the Interim Government suggestions.
According to one view of the option, the proposed Interim Government would hold the fort for about one year before fresh elections are called.
However, a clear challenge with this option is that it is not a constitutional one also. So would Liberia also be moving in the path of a ‘doctrine of necessity?’
In the midst of all of this confusion back home, Madam Sirleaf took off time to jet into Imo State, Nigeria to be honoured with a chieftaincy title, certificate, street name and, capping it, a statue.
But that did not stop her critics from continuing to fault what they term her poor handling of the electoral transition process.
Underscoring how legacy-tainting all of this has been, her critics have come from several strands of the political spectrum, including her own Unity Party which roundly denounced her for not standing up boldly to campaign in favour of the party’s candidate and her vice-president for 12 years, Joseph Boakai, under the opportunistic excuse that she was simply being the ‘mother of the nation!’
Others have also gone as far as suggesting that she had indeed done a deal with leading contender, George Weah for the ex-footballer to back her son, Robert as his replacement in the forthcoming Montserrado Senatorial run and later as President after he would have served his term in office.
While these accusations were initially ignored by Sirleaf, she has since had to respond to them, including making a stinging reply to Mr. Allan White, the former chief prosecutor of former President Charles Ghankay Taylor, who had suggested in a VOA interview that indeed the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf-led government may have supported the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change and football legend, George Weah.
White, in the interview with Straight Talk Africa on the Voice of America also said he had information of the plan being mapped out for Robert to replace Weah as Senator once the Coalition for Democratic Change’s standard bearer ascends the Presidency.
He also said he had equally been informed that a deal had been sealed with Senator Weah in which he will never go after the Sirleaf administration for any political corruption or graft as well as the fact that Sirleaf would not be facing any war crimes tribunal on account of her alleged complicit role in the civil war.
‘As you all know in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, TRC there is a reference. I know all too well what her involvement was and what it wasn’t, but that is not what I am here to talk about today. But thirdly, which is a very important issue, is that her son Robert has run for office before and was defeated soundly by Weah.
So, Weah had promised, so I’m told, and I talked to people and confirmed to the extent that I believe there is some validity to it,” White revealed.
However, Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe, promptly responded, saying that the government was gravely disappointed in Mr. White’s claims.
“The government of Liberia is disappointed over recent comments on the Voice of America Straight Talk Africa program by Mr. Allan White who made several baseless, untrue and unfounded comments against President Sirleaf.
Mr. White’s regurgitation of politically motivated hearsay is quite unfortunate. We hereby categorically deny again that Madam President has entered into any political deal to give any support to the CDC as is being claimed,’ he charged.
Analysts however say that the government would need to do more than merely dismiss the allegations given that the same White, had during the early days of the political campaign season equally revealed that he had received information from credible sources that former President Charles Taylor was interfering with the 2017 election.
“He’s been in discussion with Senator George Weah who recently signed an agreement to join forces with Jewel Taylor – Taylor’s former wife – to support seeking the presidency and the vice presidency. George will be at the top of the ticket”.
In the ensuing scenario, the CDC had at first denied the allegations but seeing how untidy all of this situation was becoming, Weah was later to acknowledge that he had indeed had a telephone chat with Taylor but that such a conversation should not be misinterpreted to mean that he has a relationship with the ex-president.
“I was in a gathering and one of Mr. Taylor’s relative was in conversation with him (Taylor), and the guy walked up to me and gave me the phone saying President Taylor wants to talk to you; so I held the phone and spoke to him,” Senator Weah, who has long desired to be President for at least two decades now, finally owned up.
So if there is to be an Interim Government, who would head it? How would it be composed? And what about the resumed elections after the close of the Interim Government era? We wait.
Leading Liberian presidential contender, George Weah