-Wants President address allegations with immediacy
The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) says it is deeply troubled by recent allegations of malfeasance and abuse of political power levied against President George Weah by the Chairman of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Mr. Mulbah Morlu.
In a leaked recording that is being played in series by popular radio talk-show host Henry P. Costa, the CDC chairman accused the President of embezzlement and seeking sexual favors from female for appointments in his government.
ALJA, in a statement released on December 27, said Chairman Morlu’s claim that President Weah has been diverting the country’s resources for his personal gains, including the construction of his personal estates, is grave; and the organization wants the President to directly address the allegation with immediacy.
The Association says the accusation of embezzlement is among a number of damning allegations Mr. Morlu made against President Weah in a leaked secret recording that was aired on the Costa show.
Chairman Morlu has since confessed to the authenticity of the recording, but described his allegations as “mere liquor talk”.
In the recording, the CDC Chairman is heard lambasting Mr. Weah for receiving millions of dollars as donations following his election and subsequent inauguration as President, which he allegedly converted to his personal use.
The CDC party Chairman also claimed that President Weah has used foreign trips and the office of the Presidency to solicit funding on behalf of the country but that he diverted what were essentially state resources for his personal use as well.
Chairman Morlu further accused the President of soliciting sexual favor from some of his female appointees in government, making specific reference to a woman who Mr. Weah appointed because of an alleged intimate relationship he has with her.
In a Press Release, ALJA maintains that given Mr. Morlu’s prominence and proximity to the powers that be, his allegations against President Weah cannot simply be dismissed as “mere liquor talk made out of frustration and anger”, but they are matters that should concern the Liberia National Legislature and every well-meaning Liberian irrespective of party affiliation for an independent probe.
Meanwhile, ALJA has expressed its disappointment over President Weah’s recent reaction to the leaked recording. The Association described the President’s reaction to the grave allegations levied against him by Chairman Morlu as flimsy, because he intentionally chose to criticize the origin of the tape without addressing the substance of the recording and the claims made.
ALJA says President Weah’s failure to speak to the veracity of Chairman Morlu’s allegations would create a serious credibility problem for him and his administration.
The United States-based journalist organization says the CDC Chairman’s allegations lend credence to the widespread speculation that the President used state resources to construct his private estates and other personal properties although the President and other members of his administration have since denied those allegations.
Mr. Weah and his supporters have since claimed that he financed those projects from the millions of US dollars he earned while playing professional soccer.
Despite the denial, Chairman Morlu at a recent news conference held in Monrovia, called for the investigation of government officials, who he accused of acquiring real estate properties in a relatively short period of time.
In a related development, ALJA has expressed concern about the potential for violence between two groups of Liberians under the banners of the Coalition of Patriots (CoP) and the Independent Coalition of Patriots (ICoP) with opposing agendas who intend to demonstrate concomitantly in Monrovia on December 30th.
To forestall the potential crisis, the Association is pleading with the Justice Ministry to take a sober reflection of the Independent Council of Patriots’ (ICoP) recent request made to the Ministry for permission to stage a counter street protest on December 30th, the date previously set for the Council of Patriots’(CoP) planned street protest.
ALJA also, called on the Ministry to ensure maximum security is provided the December 30th protestors. The Association commended the Justice Ministry for engaging the leadership of the CoP and assuring them of their constitutional rights to protest and the provision of security protection for the protesters.
ALJA says while it supports the rights of demonstrators to petition their government, it remains opposed to any forceful removal of the current President from office, noting that such action would have negative consequences on the country.
At the same time, ALJA is urging President Weah and the CDC to take note of the repeated concerns raised by Liberians regarding brazen corruption and abuse of political power by insiders of the government; and asking the Weah Administration to act quickly in remedying the situation.