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Friday, June 14, 2024

HOR SUMMONS TOP OFFICIALS OVER ALLEGED DISRESPECT TO FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE WEAH

Date:

MONROVIA – The Plenary of the House of Representatives has summoned three senior government officials in response to allegations that former President George Weah was denied access to the VIP Lodge at Roberts International Airport (RIA). The officials called to appear before the House include James K. Mulhah, Managing Director of RIA; Foreign Affairs Minister Sara Beysolow Nyanti; and Justice Minister Cllr. Oswald Tweh.

The summons stems from what members of the House term as a “disrespect” to former President Weah, with the plenary demanding an explanation and the policies governing such decisions. The communication to summon these officials was initiated by Montserrado County District #10 lawmaker, Representative Yekeh Kolubah. He emphasized that while their side supported the government during the election for the sake of change, they believe that disrespecting a former President is unacceptable. Kolubah’s motion was backed by other lawmakers, including Representatives Clarence Gahr of Margibi County District #5, Steve Tequah of Rivercess County District #2, and Dixon Seboe of Montserrado District #16.

The controversy began last week when former Maritime Commissioner Eugene Nagbe disclosed in a radio interview that the Unity Party (UP) government had, for the second time, denied former President Weah access to the Clara Marie Weah VIP Lounge at RIA. Nagbe recounted that two weeks prior, Weah had notified the Liberian government about his upcoming diplomatic meeting in Accra, Ghana, and had arranged to use a private jet for the trip. On the morning of Weah’s departure, Executive Protection Service (EPS) officers were stationed at the airport early to ensure the smooth facilitation of his journey.

However, upon Weah’s arrival, his team found the Presidential Lounge locked, preventing them from accessing it. “To avoid any further embarrassment,” Nagbe explained, “we advised former President Weah and his team to proceed to the regular terminal for security checks.” This incident marks the second time that the former President has been denied use of the VIP lounge, raising concerns and questions about the motivations behind the government’s actions.

Representative Kolubah expressed his frustration, stating that such actions undermine the respect and protocols traditionally afforded to former heads of state. He argued that this was not just about one individual but about maintaining the dignity and honor of the office of the President. “If we start disrespecting our former leaders, it sets a dangerous precedent for the future,” Kolubah remarked.

Supporters of Weah have also voiced their concerns, calling for transparency and fairness in the treatment of former Presidents. They argue that political differences should not translate into personal vendettas that affect the privileges and respect accorded to former officeholders. “This is not about politics; it’s about respecting the institution of the Presidency,” one supporter noted.

The House of Representatives’ decision to summon these high-ranking officials reflects the gravity with which they view the situation. They seek to understand the specific policies that led to this denial and whether there have been any recent changes in the protocols for VIP usage at the airport. Lawmakers are particularly interested in whether these policies were specifically targeted at Weah or if they apply to all former Presidents and high-ranking officials.

Foreign Affairs Minister Sara Beysolow Nyanti is expected to provide insight into any diplomatic considerations that might have influenced this decision. As the Minister responsible for managing the country’s international relations, Nyanti’s explanation will be crucial in understanding whether there were external factors at play.

Justice Minister Cllr. Oswald Tweh, on the other hand, is anticipated to address the legal aspects of the issue. Lawmakers are keen to know if there were any legal justifications for the denial and how the decision aligns with Liberia’s laws and regulations concerning the treatment of former Presidents.

Lastly, James K. Mulhah, Managing Director of RIA, will need to clarify the airport’s operational policies and why the Presidential Lounge was inaccessible on the day of Weah’s departure. His testimony is expected to shed light on the internal processes and decision-making at RIA.

The House of Representatives hopes that this inquiry will lead to clearer guidelines and prevent similar incidents in the future. The lawmakers aim to ensure that all former Presidents are treated with the respect and honor they deserve, irrespective of political affiliations.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

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