23rd October 2017
Liberia Elections Tuesday: 20 Vie for President as Weah Denies Taylor Link!
By Abu Shaw in London (09/10/17)
Liberians go to the polls Tomorrow Tuesday October 10 to elect among 20 candidates the successor to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
There are 20 candidates vying for the Executive Mansion to replace President Johnson-Sirleaf, the first female Head of State in Africa. Senator George Manneh Weah, is a leading presidential hopeful whose running mate is Madam Jewel Howard Taylor, the wife of former Liberian President Charles Taylor. (Photo: CDC candidates George and Jewel).
All the contestants for the Liberia presidency, a country that is still recovering from the 2014 Ebola outbreak with scars from a protracted war, want to improve the economy as the fall in the prices of iron ore, one of the country’s biggest exports has pushed the economy to a crisis.
Madam MacDella Cooper is the only female contender and she too wants to tap into other lucrative sectors. She said: “I want to focus on the agriculture industry, the eco-tourism and also the fishing industry. As you very well know, Liberia has one of the most flora swell across West Africa but we haven’t done much about the agriculture industry."
Mr. Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress has promised to create jobs and expand the economy. He said: “We need to grow and expand the economy by creating jobs for all Liberians particularly for the young people because they represent the bulk. The provision of skills and training will help them with jobs.”
Other leading candidates are the Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai of the ruling Unity Party and the former world best footballer George Oppong Manneh Weah whose running mate is Charles Taylor's ex-wife Jewel Howard Taylor.
Mr. Charles Taylor is currently serving a 50 year prison sentence in Durham in England for war crimes indicted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague Holland. Reports recently linked Charles Taylor to the George Weah presidential aspirations who is allegedly accused of pulling strings from his prison cell in England.
Senator George Weah Denies any Political Link with Imprisoned Charles Taylor!
By Jennifer O'Mahony, Monrovia (AFP)
Liberian presidential candidate George Weah on Friday denied contact with ex-leader Charles Taylor as controversy erupted over the former warlord's alleged behind the-scenes role in the country's politics.
After stepping off a helicopter on his return to the capital, Monrovia, from a nationwide tour ahead of elections on October 10, Weah categorically denied speaking with Taylor, who is serving a 50-year prison term in Britain for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
"I am not in contact with Charles Taylor, I repeat, I am not," Weah told AFP and France 24 journalists. The BBC quoted him this week as saying he had taken a phone call from Taylor recorded in January.
Weah's vice-presidential pick is Taylor's ex-wife, Jewel Howard-Taylor, who told AFP "Liberia needs to move on" when asked if she maintained a correspondence with her ex-husband.
The union of Weah and Howard-Taylor's parties into the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) for the vote was seen as an unexpected but astute move as the footballing superstar turned politician makes his second attempt at the presidency.
Howard-Taylor is a respected Senator in her own right and has built her own political reputation beyond that of Taylor's First Lady during his 1997-2003 rule.
However, the international community remains preoccupied by Taylor's ongoing influence on public life. The US Congress passed a resolution in late September which "condemns any external interference in the elections, including any communication or action by convicted war criminal and former armed faction leader Charles Taylor to influence the elections from prison."
A UN-backed court convicted Taylor in 2012 of war crimes, crimes against humanity and several other offences for his role in neighbouring Sierra Leone's 1991-2001 civil war in which an estimated 50,000 people died.
Howard-Taylor has also faced questions over whether she is fully estranged from Taylor. But on Friday she said a widely-circulated remark that she wanted to bring back Taylor's "agenda" had been taken out of context.
"That's not what I said, and maybe that's what people wanted to hear. I said the National Patriotic Party (NPP) has an agenda, and when the NPP joined the coalition they went with a mandate, our plan of action."
The NPP was Taylor's former party, and Howard-Taylor now represents the NPP in the Liberian Senate. Taylor rose to power on the back of the rebellion he launched in 1989 against Liberia's then-military ruler Samuel Doe.
In 1997 after seven years of Liberia's own civil war, Taylor was elected president. One of his campaign slogans was: "He killed my Ma, he killed my Pa, but I will vote for him."
His National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) earned a reputation for extreme violence and was among the first to force children, some as young as 10, to carry guns.
He kept a low profile, living in a seaside villa in Nigeria and having a luxury car with diplomatic plates, until the Nigerian government in March 2006 bowed to international calls to extradite him. EU Election Observers, who are in Liberia to see a free and fair elections, also followed the 2nd Presidential Debate in Monrovia some weeks ago.