West African leaders, mainly those in the Mano River basin have told President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that backing Senator George Weah and his Coalition for Democratic Change to succeed her would be the resurrection of Charles Taylor’s terror era and that the region’s peace and security will be at risk.
Johnson Sirleaf who has gone tacitly AWOL with her ruling Unity Party is the speculated chief source of finance for the main opposition CDC of football icon Weah and former President Charles Taylor’s Wife Jewel and the key to the former meetings with several African leaders.
Jewel Taylor is the deputy leader for the Weah’s coalition that encompasses the warlord’s National Patriotic Party (NPP) that ruled Liberia until his departure into exile in 2003.
Mr. Taylor played a horrific role in what would be dubbed the great African tragedies of the 1990’s alongside Sierra Leone’s Foday Sankoh, whose rebel movement would become best known for hacking off the arms and legs of civilians leaving over 50,000 dead, and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Laurent Kabila who was the central figure in a complex civil war that ultimately killed four million people.
Although he is residing in British prison, this year some members of the international community with knowledge of his bloody past trembled When his Wife Jewel Howard-Taylor, now partnering Weah contacted him to reenergized his support base in Liberia.
Jewel has connected Weah to Taylor and he would confirmed this year his admiration for the jailed former President, 15 years after he accused the convicted war criminal of wanting to kill him for perceived presidential ambition.
“Definitely I spoke to Charles Taylor during one of our meetings and I think someone who related to him was on the line with him and he said that Mr. Weah President Taylor wants to say hi to you and I can tell you, I picked up the phone and said Mr. President how are you,” he said.
On January 28, also with Jewel’s intervention Taylor placed a call to his supporters in Liberia, rallying them to: “Go back to the base and everything will be okay”. That base is the NPP that Weah now heads along with his Congress for Democratic Change and the Liberian People Democratic Party.
The Taylor factor with the CDC is what West African leaders have used to give Johnson Sirleaf cold-shoulder with the leaders of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast being bold to inform their Liberian counterpart that they are not on board with her Weah endorsement, insider accounts and diplomatic sources have said.
The matter, according to verified multiple sources has dominated recent talks between the President and her counterparts mainly the September 7-8 Meeting with Ivory Coast’s Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan.
President Ouattara told Sirleaf that it is bad precedent for an unprepared footballer who has running ties with warlords who troubled the region to be gifted with state power, one source privy to the discussion said with agreement he will not be identified.
The President and her aides have consistently refuted allegations of her backing of Weah and other opposition candidates against her party’s presidential candidate and vice president Joseph Boakai. But the rumor mill has refused to go overdraft to the extent that it has shifted towards international politics.
Weah was in Abidjan during Sirleaf’s bilateral talks with Ouattara. The Ivorian leader, like his MRU colleagues is concerned about the security of the region and does not want actors who waged terror on the people of West Africa to return to power directly or in a disguised form.
The press statement, which the Executive Mansion released following the Abidjan meeting has a clue.
“According to the Communiqué, during the visit, President Sirleaf and her Ivorian counterpart had a working session – extended to the two delegations and a one-on-one meeting in an atmosphere of cordial understanding and perfect convergence of views; as well as gave a broad overview of bilateral issues, as well as current events in the sub-region, Africa and in the rest of the world.
“At the sub-regional level, the two Heads of State expressed satisfaction with the positive role played in conflicts resolution by the Organizations, notably ECOWAS and the Mano River Union. They welcomed the establishment of the Joint Security and Confidence Restoration Units (JSCRU) as part of the conflict resolution approach and the consolidation of border peace and security, and they called for a greater participation and involvement of the population in this project.
“They also reaffirmed their commitment to a supportive Africa capable of effectively addressing security challenges, including terrorism, cybercrime, maritime piracy and drug trafficking, while calling on the international community to unite in order to permanently eradicate these plagues.