-Sen. Weah tells Legislative reporters after submitting ECOWAS report
Senator George Weah has confirmed speaking with jailed former Liberian President Charles Ghnakay Taylor by phone.
Weah told journalists at the Capitol Building on Tuesday that he has indeed spoken with Mr. Taylor.
He made the confirmation minutes after he submitted his long-delayed ECOWAS Parliament Report to the Plenary of the Liberian Senate Tuesday and subsequently read to that body by secretary of Senate J. Nanborlor F. Sengbeh.
“…You [are] asking me if I spoke with him, definitely I spoke with Charles Taylor during one of our meetings…I think someone related to Charles Taylor was on the line with Mr. Taylor and said that Sen. Weah, President Taylor is on the line and will like to say hi to you; and I can tell you, I picked up the phone and say (said), Mr. President how are you…,” Senator Weah disclosed.
He further told reporters that it was his responsibility to respect a former leader and that they could now say whatever they wish to say.
Sen. Weah did not however, elaborate how far his discussion with former President Taylor went, or what areas of national concern were touched during their so-called mobile phone conversation.
Referring to Senator Alphonso Gaye’s letter requesting the two Senate representatives to ECOWAS to submit comprehensive reports to the plenary referencing their activities at the ECOWAS Parliament for the past two years, Sen. Weah told journalists that he is one person that has always brought reports to the Senate whenever he attended the ECOWAS Parliament.
“They have forgotten that since I went to ECOWAS, I was one person that brought report, every time I went to ECOWAS and in line with due diligent, I brought report; because I have to bring report for my colleagues to know what is happening at the ECOWAS Parliament,” Weah said.
It may be recalled that the former chief of investigator of the United Nations Special Court for Sierra Leone, Dr. Allan W. White, said in a Voice of America (VOA) interview that former President Taylor has been in discussion with Sen. Weah, which culminated into Senator Jewel Howard Taylor (Mr. Taylor’s former wife) becoming vice standard bearer to Sen. Weah in a three-party coalition pact that includes Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Party (NPP).
Dr. White in that interview disclosed that Mr. Taylor was interfering with the elections in Liberia, by trying to ensure that there would never be a war crimes court established in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
White also alleged that when he [Taylor] left, there were millions of dollars that were buried and left behind with the hope that whoever is elected seeks to get his sentence reduced and subsequently gets him back in Liberia will benefit from the booty,” White added.
But Professor Wilson Tarpeh, a senior partisan and strategist of the newly formed Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) in a recent interview with journalists said his party could neither substantiate nor deny whether Sen. Weah, had been in communication with former President Taylor, as alleged by Dr. White, but was quick to point out that the burden of proof is left with Mr. White.
Meanwhile, the month-long ECOWAS Parliament Report by Sen. Weah, who is Liberia’s Head of Delegation to that body in Abuja, Nigeria, was placed on the agenda for Senate’s 19th day sitting, and was read by the secretary of the Senate.
But unlike the previous report from Nimba County Senator Prince Yornie Johnson which was briefly discussed by plenary, members of the Senate following discussions among themselves, voted unanimously on a motion proffered by Gbarpolu County Senator Daniel Naatehn that the report be received, adopted, noted and form part of documents on the Senate Archive.
Interestingly, it was Senator Naatehn’s motion last Thursday that stopped Sen. Weah’s report from being placed on the agenda for deliberation, citing Senatorial procedural error.
“After consultations among my colleagues, I move that the report by Senator George Weah which in our views is comprehensive, be received and noted, and placed on the archives of the Senate,” Naatehn moved.
Among issues highlighted in Sen. Weah’s report was persistent concern about his constant absence from proceedings at the ECOWAS Parliament.
“Since being elected as one of the Senate Representatives, I have attended every session at the ECOWAS Parliament and have contributed immensely in fostering the country’s economic, political and social agenda…”
Weah disclosed in his report that a delocalized meeting of ECOWAS Parliament intended to decentralize the inner working of committees, as well as showcase member countries’ working environment and foster more camaraderie amongst parliamentarians is scheduled to be held in Monrovia this April; it will be under the theme: ECOWAS policy on combating counterfeit products and expired products; role of the Parliament in the implementation and monitoring of this policy.
On the first Extraordinary ECOWAS Parliament Session held in Abuja, Nigeria from February 10-15, 2017, the report said it emphasized the introduction of New Parliamentarians and Consideration and Adoption of Draft Agenda.
“Draft documents adopted as working tools for the Community includes: Work Program of joint, Standing and Ad Committee, draft Report of the September 2016 Ordinary Session, Report of the Committee on Legal and Judicial Affairs on implementation of the Supplementary Act relating to the enhancement of the powers of the ECOWAS Parliament, Reports of the Joint, Standing and Ad hoc Committee and the Program of Activities of Parliament for the year 2017. “
Meanwhile, Sen. Weah has recommended that, to prevent confusion about travel and accommodation during ECOWAS missions, “I urge all members of the Liberian delegation to submit itineraries of their travels to my office before departure for ECOWAS. In union strong, success is sure. In addition, I would also suggest that future presentations of ECOWAS Reports to the Senate plenary by both representatives should be done collectively to help promote teamwork and avoid misunderstanding.”
The two representatives, as a sign of reconciling their differences and forego recent verbal war of words, on Tuesday embraced and shook hands in open plenary.