Just why the Weah led administration keeps shooting itself in the foot is a question which continues to bewilder the public, especially in view of President Weah’s recent volte-face on the establishment of a war crimes court and yesterday’s standoff between the Police and angry protesters who had converged at the St. Joseph Catholic Hospital in support of a gang rape victim.
The protesters said they had gathered at the hospital in order to prevent what they said was an attempt by Police to arrest and detain Jestina Taylor, who had been admitted there for over 45 days after being raped and injected with harmful substances, to prevent her from meeting a visa appointment at the United States Embassy in Monrovia.
The protesters who had gathered in their hundreds at the Catholic Hospital were met by Police barricades, water cannon and teargas as they attempted to erect their own barricades on the main motorway after they were prevented by Police from entering the hospital grounds.
Once again, international media focus has been drawn to Liberia all for the wrong reasons. Only a few days ago, upon his return from the UN General Assembly, President Weah stunned Liberians when he questioned why advocates for a war and economic crimes court did not mount such pressure on the Ellen Sirleaf led government since hers was a direct and immediate offspring of the 2003 Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord (ACPA).
Barely a week later, his government has catapulted itself back into negative news headlines with Police attempts to arrest a victim of gang rape and other forms of physical assault, whose attackers are reportedly known to the Police but, so far, no arrests have been made.
The victim, Ms. Jestina Kumba Taylor, had made a string of allegations about hidden arms caches allegedly stashed away by top functionaries of this government. Almost immediately following her allegations, which were widely bandied on social media, Jestina was abducted by unknown men, taken to an unknown location, drugged and repeatedly gang-raped and left for dead.
Fortunately, according to reports, one of her assailants saved her life by taking her in a semi-conscious state, to the ELWA-Robertsfield highway where he hailed a local taxi driver and instructed him to take her to the nearest Police station from where she was taken to the Catholic Hospital in Congo Town where she had since remained until yesterday.
Her application for a US visa to seek medical attention in that country apparently aroused the suspicion of the authorities, who probably suspected and feared that, once abroad, Jestina would divulge “secrets” meant to be kept under wraps.
Whatever those secrets are, or may be, remain unclear. What is however clear is that official state security attempted to prevent her from leaving the hospital where she had since remained under 24-hr Police watch for unexplained reasons.
Public response to the Police action was almost immediate as hundreds converged at the grounds of the Catholic Hospital in show of support for Jestina. Unlike previous instances of such nature, Police reaction was notably subdued although the Police did fire teargas and employed the use of water cannon to disperse the angry crowd.
Yet the crowd regrouped, and the standoff continued until the intervention of UN officials who, according to reports, took Jestina away to an undisclosed location after hours of consultation with Police and ranking government officials.
The question uppermost on the minds of the public is just why government officials would, by their actions and pronouncements, cast the Government in a negative light and subject it to public excoriation. Why would the Police, for example, attempt to prevent Jestina from leaving the hospital to attend a visa appointment?
It is public knowledge that Jestina had been interned for over six weeks at the Catholic Hospital. It is also public knowledge that since the brutal assault on her, the Police have not arrested any suspects, neither have the Police kept the public informed about progress made to track down her alleged assailants, one of who Jestina has identified as Mulbah Kesselly.
Mulbah Kesselly, according to Police sources is a notorious and convicted armed robber who was serving his sentence at the Monrovia Central Prison when he was surreptitiously released from detention, allegedly on orders of top officials from the Ministry of Justice.
But just why would the government draw such unwarranted attention to and cast itself in a negative light? President Weah, who has declared himself as Liberia’s “Feminist-in-Chief”, has been portrayed in a very negative light with a female gang-rape victim being treated by the Police as the perpetrator of the act.
Granted, the young lady (Jestina Kumba Taylor) had made wild and unsubstantiated allegations against President Weah and his officials. Did such warrant her a death sentence or such horrendous torture by individuals alleged to have been acting at the behest of government officials?
Just what did such officials hope to gain by preventing Jestina from leaving her hospital bed to attend a visa appointment at the US Embassy? Do not such actions convey a distinct impression that government agents were responsible for the vicious assault on Jestina that left her near dead?
Do these officials not realize that these negatives are having a rub-on effect on President George Weah? Additionally, President Weah needs to understand that public rants by his Deputy Information Minister Eugene Fahngon are inflammatory and do not help his (President Weah’s) image.
As the Daily Observer has pointed out time and again, President Weah needs to take charge and lead from the front. As it appears, President Weah believes in the falsehoods his spin doctors are churning out. Instead of blaming themselves for creating the “mess”, they are instead scapegoating the political opposition.
Quite clearly, the CDC appears caught in the throes of a yesterday that has lost its relevance and a tomorrow which is rapidly gaining traction. With the economy in free fall amid excruciating economic conditions facing the people, President Weah must now get his act together or prepare to face the unkind verdict of history.