The General Auditing Commission (GAC) said on Wednesday, July 25, at 6:05 p.m., it received the declaration of personal interests, income, assets and liabilities from President George M. Weah, a GAC release said.
Although THE GAC did not provide insight as to what the President declared, the release said the submission of the personal interests, income, assets and liabilities from President Weah is in fulfillment of Section 10.2 of the Code of Conduct, which calls on public officials of the Executive Branch of Government to declare their personal interests, income, assets and liabilities to the General Auditing Commission. And this has to be made public simply because such individuals will be acting in the public interest.
In line with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the GAC and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), signed on October 6, 2016, the GAC will forward to the LACC the President’s Declaration, and all other declarations submitted to the GAC.
The GAC calls on all cabinet ministers, public officials and employees of government involved in making decisions affecting contracting, tendering or procurement, and issuance of licenses of various types to declare their income, assets and liabilities.
The declaration of personal interests, income, assets and liabilities by public officials is intended to enhance accountability and transparency, curtail corruption and acquisition of illicit wealth and to increase public confidence and trust in our governance system.
The release, signed by George K. Barpeen, Jr., GAC’s Chief Communications Officer, did not give details about President Weah’s assets or state if or when when the assets declaration would be made public.
The GAC confirmation comes against the backdrop of immense pressure which the Student Unification Party (SUP) a University of Liberia campus-based student political party has mounted on the President by staging a series of demonstration demanding President Weah to declare his assets.
The student protests was backed by two Legislators, representing Margibi District#1 and Montserrado District#10, who enjoined to the students’ action when they boycotted the official program marking the country’s 171st Independence anniversary unless.
Both legislators said they were taking the action to ensure that the President declare his assets.
Representative Yekeh Kolubah of Montserrado County District#10, claims to have written the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives, informing him about his decision to stay away from official functions presided over by President Weah, “because the President has failed to declare his assets as provided for by law, but was instead moving on with multiple private projects, including the demolition and reconstruction of his property on 9th Street in just five months of his Presidency.
“Until the President can stop building his houses and establishing other private businesses, I will not attend any event he is a part of. In fact, if only I get the support, I will stand firm to ensure that he is impeached. He has to be impeached unless he declares his assets,” Kolubah said.
Also, Margibi District #1 Representative Tibelrosa Tarponweh, said “due to the enormous challenges facing the nation, the pomp and pageantry usually attending such ceremonies are worthless, and are of no real value to the Liberian people.”
“I have nothing against President Weah or anyone else, but I think it will not be right for me to go out for an elaborate event when my people are suffering as they are. Those who have been driven out from their homes by the flood the other time are yet to receive care from government,” he said.
According to the CDC Lawmaker, “inasmuch that government is seriously challenged with the lack of money to implement most of its programs, it is still undeniable that there is so much wasteful spending in government”, he concluded.
But observers here say they are troubled by what virtually amounts to an eleventh hour decision by President Weah to declare his assets. A prominent rights activist (name withheld) commenting on the President’s latest move said it is unfortunate that President Weah would declare his assets at so late a time when he should have done so even before his official assumption of office.
She said the whole world is waiting and watching to see if President Weah’s asset declaration would tell a different story from that given to Court officials in the United States in a child support case involving Ms. Meapeh Gono and her daughter who she claims was fathered by President George Weah. Weah is said at the time to have told Court officials that he, as Senator was earning a mere 1,000 US dollars monthly as salary payment and therefore could not afford to honor child support demands from the mother of the child.
It can be recalled that Weah’s denial about his fatherhood of Ms. Gono’s daughter prompted the Court to order DNA testing in order to establish the true paternity of the child and according to reports the DNA results indisputably confirmed Weah as the father of the child. It now remains to be seen what the legal implications will be, if any, for President Weah in the wake of his asset declaration which may tend to impeach sworn statements made in a US Court in a paternity and child support lawsuit.