Attempts by some members of the House of Representatives to sanction one of their colleagues allegedly for accusing President Weah of involvement in the missing money scandal has not only made headlines in the local media but has raised pertinent questions about the real motives and intent of those calling for their colleague’s head, simply because he accused the President of suspected involvement in the missing money affair.
Such attempts, according to political observers, are further indications of the clear but negative signals this government keeps sending to the international community. Amongst such negative signals, according to observers, was the contract of a dubious loan arrangement with an obscure entity, Eton Finance, followed by another proposed but opaque road financing agreement with a company owned by a Burkinabe national Mohammed Boukoungou.
The speed with which those agreements were passed through the Legislature was indeed astounding. It was clear that no due diligence had been done and despite public outcry, legislators remained unmoved. They, in fact, called for more of such loan arrangements and were apparently ready to pass same into law had they been proffered.
Those proposed agreements have since fizzled out. But before the issue could grow cold, which it never did, another of such negative signals was again sent to the international community and that involved the acclaimed disappearance of billions of newly printed Liberian dollar banknotes. This is a matter which has since provoked international interest and involvement as well.
And, of course, the conflicting accounts given by various government officials about the missing money simply added more fuel to the fire of disbelief spreading fast through the public. But as if that was not enough, then came the declaration by the Central Bank Governor that US$25 million was to be infused into the economy to mop up excess liquidity.
As would have been expected, the Central Bank would or should have played a lead role in this since its Governor had announced the infusion, especially since it is the Central Bank which is rightly in charge of monetary policy. To the contrary, it was instead the Finance Minister taking charge claiming that he had infused the money directly into the economy, buying excess cash from money changers and not through the Central Bank as would have been expected.
Naturally, of course, this explanation was simply like adding more gasoline to the fire because the Minister’s explanation smirked strongly of impropriety for what were the motives for circumventing the banking system. Public speculations about money laundering were rife because such action could not in any way be justified since the Minister lacked the legal authority to undertake such action. This was another negative signal sent to the international community about this government’s stance on engrained public sector corruption.
The Resolution 1055 passed recently by the United States Congress, calling for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court for Liberia, talks about endemic corruption in Liberia and the need for accountability. It would be utterly surprising were officials of this government, especially those who have schooled in the US as well as those who have lived there, to declare or even pretend that they have not taken note of those observations contained in the Resolution.
In case they have not done so, this newspaper would strongly suggest that they take note of the Resolution which they may, at their peril, choose to ignore. The point being made here is that, given the current outlook, there may very well be negative implications for this government should the impression take hold in the international community that this government cannot be trusted.
It will be helpful in this regard were President Weah to take cue from ex-President Charles Taylor’s notebook on managing relations with the international community, particularly the United States. President Weah may probably not realize that the perception held of him by the international community prior to his election as President, was high and was premised on the belief that he presented as one with the strongest pro-accountability credentials amongst all the candidates for the high office of President.
It can be recalled that Charles Taylor, upon his entry into Monrovia in 1997 after five years in the bushes, was welcomed by a mammoth crowd of enthusiastic supporters who thronged the streets en masse. It was as if the “Messiah” had arrived in town. Only six (6) years later, he was being hounded and virtually chased into exile. President Weah, too, when he was proclaimed winner of the 2017 elections, was hailed with as much messiahship.
While this newspaper does not harbor the impression that a similar fate may befall President Weah, we cannot help but warn of the inherent dangers associated with the sending of signals suggesting the gradual emergence of a dictatorship which, in the opinion of this newspaper is bound to engender resistance of whatever kind. And that may not augur well for the success of this government.
For example, issuing threats against those who dare question the credibility of President Weah or suggest his involvement in the missing money and the US$25 million infusion “WAHALA” is a recipe for trouble. Why, for example, are legislators not questioning CDC Chairman Mulbah Morlu, who proclaimed that he had evidence of pickup trucks loaded with money leaving the premises of the CBL’s Waterside vault but yet are questioning their colleague, Representative Yekeh Kolubah for suggesting the President’s involvement in this matter?
And then the half-steps, the missteps and the speaking out from both sides of the President’s mouth on the issue concerning the establishment of a war and economic crimes court for Liberia shortly after returning from Paris, France, where he joined in celebrations marking Armistice Day. As if to dispel any negative notions associated with the irony of shielding war criminals at home while hobnobbing with world leaders in celebration of Armistice Day, a letter from President Weah requesting UN assistance to set up the Court sprang forth.
But on his return home, the nation hears double-speak from their President, creating a cloud of suspicion about his true intent. And again Negative signals were being conveyed to the world about his stance on impunity in what could be an unending roller-coaster ride into the pages of infamy.