Opposition collaborating political parties have called on the government to arrest the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah. He is also chair of the Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT). One other person, the collaborating opposition called for his arrest is Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Governor Nathaniel Patray as well as all other individuals connected to the scandals as contained in the Presidential Investigative Team’s (PIT) report, also the one released by the US Embassy near Monrovia.
Representatives of the four opposition political parties, including Liberty Party (LP), Alternative National Congress, former ruling Unity Party (UP), and All Liberian Party (ALP), called for speedy trial of former and current government officials, who may be culpable as per the two investigations.
Theodore Momo, Jr, ALP national chairman, who read the parties’ position statement, said if their calls do not heed any tangible result, where some of those directly allegedly culpable are left off the hook, “we will organize a series of mass actions across Liberia to express our dissatisfaction, and to let President George Weah, and his administration know how Liberians are growing impatient by the day.”
“We want the artificial hardships imposed by this administration’s bad governance to end. The waves of looting by senior members of this administration, while ordinary citizens are struggling to survive must stop. We have analyzed and concluded that both the past, and the current governments are culpable in the brazen and shameless looting of public funds,” the statement said.
Although both Tweah and Patray have distanced themselves from any wrongs, the opposition parties believe that President Weah government is liable for the US$25 million (about L$4 billion as clearly contained in the report. They added, “it was a gross misrepresentation, and even a deliberate attempt to undermine justice and misinform the people of Liberia, when Weah declared upon his return from Israel, that the PIT and the Kroll Incorporated has vindicated his government.”
“How can President Weah tell the world that his government is vindicated when CBL current Deputy Governor, and other executives are being prosecuted for misuse of public funds, and economic sabotage, when the two investigative reports pointed to gross inadequacy of internal controls and systems at the CBL as well as clearly pointing to fraudulent and suspicious actions and in actions of current fiscal and monetary authorities,” the statement said.
He said this hasty and prejudicial comment from President Weah only exposes the President’s intention to put a presidential shield of protection over key cronies of his political party, who have been hooked by the findings of the reports.
“We demand that in addition to the arrests already made, the government should move quickly to arrest Tweah, Patray and other ranking members of the TEMT. This is in consideration of the investigations’ findings pointing to the conspicuously criminal way Minister Tweah, and Governor Patray as chair and co-chair of the TEMT managed the US$25 million through the so-called mop-up exercise,” according to the statement.
Mr. Momo added, “it will be provocative for President Weah and his administration to ignore the fact that US$25 million ordered from our national reserve to facilitate a mop-up exercise last year was handled in a bizarre and criminal manner.”
“We remind the president that senior members of his Economic Management Team, as revealed in the reports, designed, directed and must have exploited last year’s monetary situation to commit the crime of money laundering. PIT was unequivocal in stating that the “TEMT/CBL under the leadership and direction of both Tweah and Patray, failed to set standard criteria for the participation of businesses in terms of their legitimacy,” the statement said.
According to the statement, considering the face value of the L$2.5 billion, (about US$ 12.5 million) bank notes and US$25 million one would come to the realization that US$25 million is higher in value than L$2.5 billion.
“It is therefore of grave concern to us that the President Weah would move expeditiously in the direction of effectuating arrests in the L$2.5 billion (about US$12.5 million case involving former Bank Governor Weeks, his deputy Charles Sirleaf and others, while being reluctant on extending similar action to his officials,” the parties claimed in the statement.
“While we appreciate USAID’s efforts in the conduct of a scoping investigation into the missing billions and the US$25 million intended to mop out excess bank notes from the market, we wish to state unequivocally that the controlling issue here is just not who overstepped the bounds in the printing of the new bank notes, but also who used the money and how they used it, or where is the money,” according to the statement.
The parties: “We call on the Civil Society, Religious and Business Community, Labor and Trade Unions, the Liberia Marketing Association, Youth and Student Organizations, partisans and auxiliary groups of the four Collaborating Political Parties, all other Political Parties and all peace-loving Liberians at home and abroad to remain resolved and take concrete steps in protecting the integrity of Liberia and to hold government accountable to the people.”
Accordingly, the move by the parties is deliberate and is intended to prevent the governance situation from degenerating into a crisis of cataclysmic proportions.
“We cannot sit supinely as laws are broken with impunity, and innocent lives are destroyed either through fanaticism or under mysterious circumstances. This is the time to act,” the statement noted.