BBC, AP to Engage Weah

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Pesident Weah (left) said that he has no grudge against Jonathan Paye-Layleh (right) and that the journalist is free to return home from his "vacation"

-As Paye-Layleh Returns

In a rather dramatic move, BBC stringer Jonathan Paye Layleh has returned to the country barely a month following his flight into exile out of fear of harm by zealots of populist Liberian President George Manneh Weah. Paye Layleh fled the country following remarks by President Weah accusing the journalist of undermining his advocacy for human rights during the course of the Liberian civil war.

Paye Layleh’s return is said to have been influenced first and foremost by his mentor, retired media executive Kenneth Yarkpawolo Best of the Daily Observer who in its April 9, 2018 editorial entitled, “Jonathan, Come Home You Have Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself” and by the Liberian media in general including the Press Union of Liberia. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as well as the Associated Press (AP) is reported to have weighed in on the matter.

It may be recalled that Paye Layleh fled the country a little over two weeks ago in the wake of remarks by President Weah accusing him of undermining his advocacy role for human rights during the course of the Liberian civil war. President Weah made the remarks at a press stakeout with visiting UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed in response to questions posed by Paye Layleh who sought to know whether President Weah would establish a war crimes tribunal as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation report.

But President Weah’s rather knee-jerk response, accusing Paye Layleh of being against him at the time when he was advocating for human rights during the Liberian civil war, triggered Paye Layleh’s flight response. Out of fear Paye Layleh wrote President Weah a letter seeking clarification. When the response appeared not to be forthcoming, Paye Layleh wrote another letter threatening to put himself in harm’s way by lying prostrate in the way of President Weah’s convoy to end his life.

The Executive Mansion responded with a statement that read “The Office of the President clarifies that as a long-time champion of human rights and an ardent advocate of peace and social justice, he only sought to remind Mr. Paye Layleh during his response to question asked, that when he was advocating for justice and creating awareness of the gross human rights violations that were being perpetrated against the Liberian people during the fourteen years civil conflict, he (Paye-Layleh) and others were bent on undermining his efforts by depicting a positive image of the carnage.”

Rather than help, the statement from the Executive Mansion further inflamed the situation and triggered even stronger response from the media as well as from the public with statements calling President Weah’s professed commitment to media freedom into question. Paye Layleh, much to the surprise of the public later surfaced in New York City apparently to seek asylum from perceived persecution in Liberia.

His sudden and surprise return to the country barely a month after he fled has led to a flurry of suggestions and speculations that the BBC and AP through the British and French governments may have prevailed on President Weah to reconsider his position and pave the way for Paye Layleh’s dramatic return.

10 COMMENTS

  1. When I read the headline of this story, I was more interested in how the “BBC, AP to engage Weah” but at the end of reading this story, I am left empty because your focus was more on what is already known.

  2. I am confused why some people will support Paye Layleh or blame Mr. Weah for stating the facts. Paye Layleh was the propaganda machine for NPFL, broadcasting the advances of Taylor’s forces. He never reported on atrocity in NPLF controlled areas and the suffering of the people. He worked for Taylor’s paper as editor-in-chief. He is responsible for many deaths during the war in Liberia. He needs to acknowledge his involvement in the civil war and say sorry to the Liberian people instead of crying victim

    • Nathaniel Jarpa, your assertion is pony and completely false and a diabolical lied. If you’ve nothing substantive to add to this story, keep your mouth shut. You’ll have to produce evidence in the form of audios and text reports that clearly showed that Journalist Paye-Layleh promoted Taylor NPFL during his reporting with the BBC. Besides, Jonathon working as an editor of the Patriot Newspaper in then Greater Liberia wasn’t a crime. He needed to sustained himself and family and he found employment in the area he was comfortable to served. Are you insinuating that each and every person that worked with the NPRAG government is guilty of war crimes, killings and propagating the war?

      The fact that most of you are diehard sycophants that love President Weah and you guys don’t ever believe that Weah make mistakes. He’s human and he should own up to his errors and instead of celebrating him as a Messiah who is clean like a white linen. Firstly, Weah was never involved in any human rights work in Liberia per his assertion and many of you are blatantly supporting this liar to fill your stomach. Weah during the disarmament and demobilization of ex-combatants was asked by the United Nation to join the efforts after the combatants has been disarmed to help in the process of reintegrating them into civil society (It was then that Weah started having soccer clinics with these ex-combatants to help them in the healing process). His role was to play soccer with these ex-combatants mainly youth as a way of De-traumatizing them. He was never a human right advocate and he misspoke when he classified himself as working to advanced human rights.

      Leaders aren’t God and they make mistakes and when they make them, they need to own them and stand up to realized their mistakes and work toward fixing them. President Weah blundered during that interaction, but because he has people around him who will not tell him the truth fearing they’ll not have food at their homes the next day will not tell him the truth. Weah need to apologize to Journalist Paye-Layleh and take responsibility for his slipped of tongue. That will be his admission of recognizing that he is human and he can make mistakes and wrong people at the same time. Besides, the remarks by President Weah, both his Press Secretary/Executive Mansion and the Information Minister, Lenn Eugene Nagbe clarifications exacerbated the situation. The Information Minister indicted the Journalist more in his clarification indicating the journalist was an NPFL supporter. When did he Nagbe realized that being a member of the NPFL taints you as an individual when he himself worked for the same Patriot Newspaper, served as Chief of Staff to the late Moses Blah and was seen even holding an AK-47 riffle? When Sam Boakarie (Mosquito of the RUF) was murdered on the orders of then President Charles Taylor, it was he Nagbe that took Boakarie’s body to the funeral home. Besides, if being an NPFL loyalist is a bad thing now, then the Vice President of Liberia, Madam Jewel Howard Taylor was married to Taylor, the head of NPFL and President of the NPRAG that controlled Greater Liberia at the time.

      We all need to stop this silliness of indicting Journalist Paye-Layleh and let’s help this man by De-traumatizing him. Liberia is not going to be developed if we do not hold our leaders accountable including the current President. Journalist aren’t enemies of the state or government, but they’re partners in educating the citizenry about the functions of government, holding public leaders accountable to their people and citizens accountable to their country. The government is created by the people, for the people and of the people. Our leaders are our servants…we hired the president, the legislators and all those who served in public places. They’re accountable to us and they’re not above the law including the president.

  3. Thanks, Marcus, for a succinct observation. Well, if BBC and AP want to “engage” Weah, that’s better than browbeating him. The President knows the press has been an advocate of Liberia’s poor (CDC base) for as long as any political observer can remember; therefore, for him to succeed in implementing pro-poor policies, his administration must totally partner with the Fourth Estate.

    The Paye-layleh exchange was a non-issue, and rather than him giving a “knee-jerk response”; Weah exposed his hypocrisy, something presidents in western democracies do all the time. Perhaps, some expected him to cower into confusion in front of a BBC stringer displaying blatant double standards. Pay-layleh’s flight painted a misleading picture of government’s anti-press posture, and might have tempted confessed murderer cum terrorist Jonathan Williams towards framing government for a cowardly murder.

    Jonathan Paye-layleh isn’t hero of his county or country, and those making him out to be one are misleading the public. We don’t have to like or approve of our elected leaders, but they became leaders because majority of our fellow citizens chose them, and that’s the essence of democracy. Folks who disagree can go wherever they want: That’s a right too!

    Weah inherited the problems between press and the past government about money, journalistic ethics, and decriminalizing defamation laws, and these should be amicably worked out. But journalists who instead of moving stumbling blocks, prefer cajoling the new government are doing a disservice; so too are judges, officials, and partisans taunting or tormenting members of the media.

    Nearly everybody knows that the major existential issues confronting Liberia are corruption, poverty, illiteracy, underdevelopment, and disunity. Unquestionably, poor Liberians can do better than they’re doing. Strangers even stayed during our Satanic civil war, because the country has something they need. The question is, why can’t we stop bickering endlessly and start sharing part of that something with our own suffering people?

    • Oh..ooooo but we should believed that Jonathan did not support NPFL and the Taylor’s administration but believed that Amb. Weah make mistake. You are blindfolded and lack professionalism in your reportage. The information provided by Harmon is a repetition of old news. He is not telling us why Jonathan came back to Liberia. Or has he gone for own support to bring war to Liberia. This is why u Liberian journalist lack integrity and esteem in your profession. Your informations are not balance and substantial but to cause stir and blackmail the government.

  4. I have not understood what this writer trying to tell the Public about what he has written and the Information he is trying to provide, this is because the subject line has been understood about the departure of Jonathan to the United State including the cause.
    What the Public is interested in is to know what role did the AP and the BBC played in handling the matter that has led Jonathan to return to the motherland, LIBERIA.When I read the headline of this story, I was interested to know how the “BBC, AP did engage president George M. Weah but when I completed the reading of this story, I am left empty as a result of the writer being more focused on what is already known by the Liberian and the world at large.
    Kindly, https://www.liberianobserver.com/author/wqharmon/, please provide us with detail of your self determined headline

    Reply

  5. Whatever engagement, I hope and pray that it’ll be peaceful. I don’t know Mr. Kenneth Best, but, I know of him. Best’s act of inviting the BBC correspondent, Paye-Layleh back to Liberia should be seen and understood as doing good business. A peaceful move like Best’s undertaking promotes Liberian patriotism. It’s in our best interest to be peaceful than being at odds with one another. After 14 years of a foolish genocide where we stepped backward for 14 years, Liberians don’t need any stupid confrontation. Hooray, KYB!

    There are some in the Liberian community who have the proclivity to read “between the lines”. Well, it’s always uneducated to read between the lines. However, it’s good to read what’s “written on the lines”. In this particular situation, what’s been written on the lines of Daily Observer News is that the veteran BBC correspondent, Paye-Layleh has been asked by Mr. Best to come back to Liberia in order to engage the daily events of our country. The daily events of which I speak are not personal. Therefore, the word “engage” should not be seen or understood in the context of confrontation. If anyone assumes otherwise, that would amount to “reading between the lines”. To read between the lines is a terrible way of life for some people. But, it’s dangerous. It is provocative. It must be discontinued!
    Let us hope that the government of Liberia, Paye-Layleh and others in the news business will not be thin-skinned neither should the agitators read between the lines.

  6. Some of our press men are always quick to call evil what they do not know. The unknown sprouts fear. It spreads like a bush fire, burning bushes, villages, towns cities and eventually, consuming entire nation. They need a scapegoat, some one to blame. Fingers are pointed, accusations are made, and a target lands on someone’s back. If that person gets angry, and turn violent, he/she takes the blame of somebody’s dubious plan.

    The BBC and AP have no reason to engage the president. It makes it looks as if the president was hunting Mr. Paye-Layleh, which is not true. Mr. Paye -Layleh left the country, because he (Paye-laylah) felt that he was insecure. If Mr. Pay-Layleh will be used as a “PSUEDO-HERO by the BBC and the AP, the Liberian people are not buying it this time around.
    just my openion

  7. correction: my last sentence. ” the Liberian people are not buying it” there should be a period at the end. New sentence: It just my openion.

  8. This is a headline that does not resemble the content of what has been written. Daily observer is known to be better and fair news outlet in liberia, please dont follow the que of poor journalism which has become the cornerstone of some media house. The Paylele hyperbole of media threat from the liberian government should now be buried; furthermore it must cease not to be the spring board to hype invisible threat on journalists as it has be portrayed by the press.

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