Speaker Dweh’s Position Questioned

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted May 17, 2004

The on-going internal squabble within the LURD group and recent outbursts of NTLA Speaker George Dweh have begun to raise questions about the intentions and role of Speaker George Dweh in the search for lasting peace by Liberians and the international community.

The latest antics of George Dweh have seen the Speaker host a press conference in his house, during which what amounted to seditious remarks were made by individuals who, by the oath they have taken, should otherwise be loyal government officials.

At a press conference over the weekend, George Dweh and his small group of LURD officials called on their loyalists not to disarm or cooperate with the international stabilization force in the country. They declared that they would no longer cooperate with the Transitional Government and, by so doing, have rendered themselves no longer part of the Government in the eyes of the public and the international community.

Addressing a group of journalists, the Dweh faction threatened to scuttle the peace process which continues to be carefully nurtured by well-meaning Liberians and the international community, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The rebellious LURD group charged that their action is based on the refusal of Chairman Gyude Bryant to accede to their request to have Finance Minister Luseni Kamara removed and replaced with Soko Sackor, who already is a Cabinet Minister with no requisite professional and practical qualification for such a sensitive and internationally-related job.

Since the press conference, many members of the public have expressed serious reservations, and even revulsion, over the action of the Speaker in particular. Top LURD frontline commanders have since dissociated themselves from the statements by the group, led by George Dweh, GSA Director-General Edward Farley, and a Ministry of Finance official, Charles Bennie.

They have vowed to resist, by all means necessary, what they see as a selfishly motivated action by those who care less about the overriding interest of the country and its people.

Other Liberians interviewed on the issue are chagrined by the fact that George Dweh could actively condone such a conspiracy to subvert the peace process even as he serves as the Speaker of the First Branch of Government - the Legislature.

They observed that, like all other commissioned officials of Government, once he took the oath of office as Speaker of the National Legislature, Speaker Dweh ceased being a factional representative. He, like Finance Minister Luseni Kamara, had become the ‘property’ of the State of Liberia, and could no longer behave as a rebel chieftain.

“This is something for which George Dweh could be impeached,” says one angry legal luminary, “because he has become part of a plan to subvert the internationally guided peace process and cause the return to hostilities in the country, thereby prolonging the suffering of the people and threatening sub-regional peace.”

Another analyst opined that “George Dweh cannot remain Speaker of such an august body as the Transitional Legislative Assembly while calling on armed groups to undermine the peace process. He should be called to order by members of that body if the credibility of its membership is not to be compromised.”

Yet others have called for the international community to take swift action against those who are clearly bent on frustrating concerted efforts by all to have Liberia stabilized. One political science student recommended “disciplinary action by the Freetown-based international tribunal” as a way of dealing with those “who think Liberia is their farm and because they wield guns, can do whatever they like regardless of the interests and desires of the majority of the citizens.”

It is not yet clear what action(s) members of the Transitional Legislature are going to take, given the declared position of their Speaker to disengage from the NTGL, which in effect leaves the NTLA rudderless.

Since becoming Speaker of the NTLA, George Dweh has been embroiled in one controversy or the other. Allegations of human rights violations, including alleged double murder, have been leveled against his person, but he has insisted that whoever thinks he is guilty of such egregious crimes should seek redress in court.

Unconfirmed sources indicate that there are many who are preparing to do so once complete normalcy returns to the country, and once the population no longer live in fear of gunmen.

A few days ago, Dweh raised eyebrows when he declared the now resigned Governor of the Central Bank, Elie Saleeby, a security risk - a move that drew swift reaction from the Executive Mansion. A release from the seat of the Chairman repudiated Dweh’s statement, broadcast on the state-owned radio (LBS), and warned against anyone trying to constrain “the movement and the exercise of other human rights” of the erstwhile Governor.

George Dweh, characteristically assuming executive powers, retorted that if a resolution of the House is needed to have Saleeby dealt with, he could engineer such a legislative action.

Again, not too long ago, hundreds of Liberian women converged on the grounds of the Capitol to dramatize their repugnance against statements attributed to the Speaker that demeaned Liberian womanhood. Some placards at the time called for his resignation.

© 2004: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.