By J K K Peah
Philadelphia, USA– The Vice Standard Bearer of Liberia’s largest opposition party, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and ex-wife of war crime convict Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia, Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, is calling for increment in salary for Liberian lawmakers.
Addressing a cross-section of Liberians in the United States last Friday evening in Philadelphia, United States, Senator Taylor responding to a question from the audience on the immense salaries lawmakers take in sheered insensitivity of the extreme poverty their fellow citizens in the homeland are going through while lawmakers also ride luxurious cars while their constituents bleed in abject poverty, the Vice Standard Bearer of the Country’s biggest opposition party told the audience that the current salaries of USD$10,000.00 Senators earn is in fact “enough” and should be increased to commiserate the fabulous salaries cabinet Ministers receive, a far deferential to what lawmakers make.
Senator Taylor further justified the necessity to increase lawmakers salaries because as she put it, they cater to their constituents who come to their offices daily for assistance and in some cases they pay tuition, underwrite burial cost and make other expenditure for their constituents and that complaining about lawmakers making huge salaries while their constituents languish in poverty “is demeaning” and that the lawmakers current salary, for her “is not enough”.
When asked what did she do when her former husband, the war crime convict, Charles Taylor reigned terror in Liberia, an infuriated Senator pushed back hard by defending her marriage to the former President and said she is proud of who she is and not responsible for what her husband did and that she too is a victim of Liberia’s 14-year civil her husband led because her parents were also killed in the war.
Senator Taylor in a high-pitch reaction told the Liberian gathering that she can only can account for what she did during the war and that she provided relief assistance to victims during the war and can not account for what her husband, Charles Taylor did.
A typical Liberian lives on barely USD$2.00 a day while lawmakers live by USD$333.33 in relation to their USD$10,000.00 monthly salaries excluding other cost which could double the monthly salaries of lawmakers and yet despite this huge disparity, the opposition party Vice Standard Bearer would staggeringly complain about lawmakers salaries not been enough.
When asked whether her party’s vow to support the “Code of Conduct” recently declared by the Supreme Court of Liberia that it is constitutional and the law MUST be respected but made no mention of abiding by the constitution, immigration and election laws of the country under which her her party’s Standard Bearer, Senator George Weah is also ineligible because there is evidence he is a naturalized French citizen and holds American passport and whether she could commit herself and the party on the record that he sign a “consent waiver” to verify the authenticity of the evidence if he refutes its veracity and if it came back authentic, will her Standard Bearer do the right thing and withdraw from the race?
The opposition Vice Standard Bearer bluntly said, ” if anyone has evidence that the party Standard Bearer George Weah holds a foreign citizenship and forward that evidence to the National Election Commission (NEC), surely Senator Weah will withdraw from the party’s ticket”.
Liberia October election could be exceptional as several candidates could be disqualified from contesting as many Presidential aspirants are either ineligible by the National Code of Conduct, the constitution, election guidelines and other laws but are informally defying the ruling of the Supreme Court on the “Code of Conduct”, the constitution and election guidelines and are parading around the country country campaigning.
Among the political parties to be affected by the “Code of Conduct” which stipulates that all executive appointees resign their positions two years prior to election year and three years resignation for a tenure post prior to election year are;
the former Coco-Cola executive, Mr Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress who is an American citizen, Dr J. Mills Jones who served a tenure position of Central Bank Governor of Liberia but only resigned his position last March, two Vice Standard Bearers of the Ambassador Jeremiah Slunteh of Alternative National Congress who also reigned his Ambassadorial post in Washington DC last December and Mr Harrison Karnwea who left his position as Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority just few weeks before his selection as Vice Standard Bearer of the Liberty Party.
And the most dramatic of all is the Liberian football icon, Senator George Weah, who despite his wide popularity and significance of his party, being biggest opposition party and having contested for President, Vice President and Senator in three elections, potentially deceived his party and Liberian people by hiding his potential two foreign citizenship, the Coalition for Democratic Change Standard Bearer won’t be spared either for potentially holding a United States and French citizenship and could be forced out of the election and won’t be on the ballot in October if evidence forwarded to the National Election Commission is verified to be legitimate.
Liberia does not have a dual citizenship and if a Liberian takes a foreign citizenship or join a foreign military automatically loses his or her Liberian citizenship and constitution and election laws of Liberia forbid a non Liberian and dual citizen from running for public office.