The attention of the Daily Observer has been drawn to a front page lead story under the headline “CoP Welcomes Weah’s Proposed Dialogue”.
According to the story written by Daily Observer reporter William Harmon, the Council of Patriots has welcomed the call by President Weah for dialogue however with preconditions that must be met for the dialogue to proceed.
Key amongst these preconditions is the dismissal and criminal prosecution of Finance Minister Samuel Tweah and Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Governor, Nathaniel Patray for complicity and involvement in the US$25 million liquidity mop-up exercise, as well as the alleged missing billions.
According to the CoP, “Tweah and Patray have proven to be inept, corrupt and incapable of offering a solid economic blueprint that will resuscitate our ailing economy and alleviate the hardships faced by our people”, noting that the dismissals of Tweah and Patray do not require a national dialogue but the political will, which the CoP observed, the President lacks.
This newspaper also welcomes President Weah’s call for dialogue, but it notes that such dialogue should not be a substitute for pragmatic action to address concerns about transparency and accountability in handling of the missing billions and the US$25 million infusion and liquidity mop-up exercise which were, according to Kroll, PIT and GAC reports, strongly tainted with fraud that occurred under the watch of Tweah and Patray.
Already, criminal charges have been brought against former CBL officials including Milton Weeks, Charles Sirleaf, Dorbor Hagba and others. Another CBL official, who was said to have expressed dissatisfaction over the manner in which the exercise was conducted, was killed in a mysterious hit and run motor accident. To date, and aside from former CBL officials who have been criminally charged, not a single official involved in the fraudulent liquidity mop-up exercise has been criminally charged.
And this has been and remains a major bone of contention which is not and has not been addressed. President Weah has failed to pull the rug under Samuel Tweah and Nathaniel Patray, even in the face of overwhelming evidence suggesting that members of the Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT) acted criminally in the conduct of the US$25 million infusion and liquidity mop-up exercise.
If President Weah’s call for dialogue is intended to address problems affecting the country’s ailing econmy, which has grown worse under the immediate watch of Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah and CBL Governor Nathaniel Patray, why then does he appear reluctant to call these individuals to the carpet.
Further, just why has President Weah remained impervious to calls from local and foreign businesses including the Liberia Chamber of Commerce to annul the Cargo Tracking Note which had brought benefits to a few unscrupulous individuals but misery and hardship to the Liberian people in the form of higher prices and a sharp depreciation of the Liberian against the US dollar?
These are matters on which President Weah can act without having to resort to dialogue. In any successful dialogue, trust is a critical element, absent which the achievement of progress becomes elusive. The President needs to engender that trust by addressing himself to the issues raised by the CoP, particularly the imposition of the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) and those concerning the woeful management of the nation’s economy under the watch of Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah and Central Bank of Liberia (CBL Governor Nathaniel Patray.
Additionally, there are public concerns about the selective application of justice especially in cases involving officials and supporters of this government. Officials of this government are behaving in ways that strongly suggest that disrespect for the rule of law is becoming a norm. And President Weah does not need a convocation to bring this under control, neither does he need one to have Justice Minister Musa Dean enforce the law without fear or favor to all, save a few big wigs.
As mentioned earlier, trust is a cardinal element in all of this. No amount of platitudes or shenanigans can inspire public confidence or supplant the need for political will to take corrective actions. If President Weah cannot muster the political will to take strong and immediate actions to reverse the downward slide of the economy, he may, more likely than not, find himself faced with even more street protests, which he may find difficult to quell without resorting to violence.
And this newspaper has repeatedly warned that such a scenario could only provoke the intervention of the military to quell public disturbances and restore law and order, but it could also induce the military into doing the unthinkable-that is the seizure of state power. This is a scenario which President Weah should do well to avoid courting.
Dialogue is important, and this newspaper shall always encourage dialogue to resolve differences. It therefore applauds President Weah for extending a call to the CoP and others to meet for dialogue. However, the Daily Observer is troubled by what appears to be the benign concern with which concerns of the Liberian people as voiced through the CoP are being treated.
President Weah says he is aware of the sufferings of the Liberian people but his officials are conducting themselves in ways that suggest enjoyment. “Jolly jolly” is their portion; hard time and suffering can’t put foot — they rebuke it. On last June 7, for example, a certain government official (name withheld) was reportedly dishing out money at his residence to hungry residents urging them to find food to eat and stay away from the protest.
But, in truth, ordinary people are virtually catching hell with many going to bed hungry and waking up without anything to eat and nothing to look forward to. News that salaries are due to be slashed beginning July while the exchange rate continues to climb will induce more street protests. The KROBAH must pay heed to the cries of the people for, this is no chay dey ni pehn kanohn business.