Liberia: Day One Of Mass Protest Ends; No Petition Presented

Day one of what appears to be several days of planned protest has ended in Monrovia with no compromise reached between the government of Liberia and Protesters under the banner, Council of Patriots (COP).  

Liberian Protesters On June 7th

The much publicized protest began Friday, June 7, 2019 with the protesters demanding that they can only deliver their petition to President George Weah or Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor.  

Earlier, President George Weah designated his Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor to be the one to receive the petition from the Council of Patriots.

Is not clear why the Vice President did not show up as expected, but multiple sources close to the office of the VP said, she was unable to show up due to illness. 

Protest Organizers Henry P. Costa (in white top) Marching With Protesters

However, the government requested the leadership of COP to hand deliver their petition to Foreign Minister Gbezongar Findley – a decision protesters vehemently rejected, saying, they cannot present their petition to an appointed official. 

Among other demands, the protesters are demanding that Finance Minister Samuel Tweh and Central Bank Governor Nathaniel Patray be dismissed and turned over to the Justice Ministry for prosecution for their roles in the mismanagement and misapplication of the US$25 million allocated for a mop up of excess Liberian dollar liquidity.

The protesters also want the government to find solution to the persistent skyrocketing of the US dollar against the Liberian dollar.

The protesters further indicated that they want an immediate end to what they described as massive corruption and bad governance, which, according to them have hampered Liberian’s image abroad. 

ECOWAS Official Addressing Protesters

The protest which has been described by many including international media outlets as the most peaceful post war protest, was by monitored by both local and international observers including Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS). Local officials of ECOWAS in Monrovia were seen working alongside their Liberian counterparts to ensure peaceful and orderly protest. 

Liberian Security Officers

Elites forces of the Liberian joint security were also seen posted at various points to ensure that things were under control. 

Observers say this was the first time in several years in Liberia that a mass protest has been held without any scuffle between the police and protesters, even though tension heightened between the police and supporters of one of the leaders of the protest a day prior to the much publicized June 7 protest.

Liberian Protesters

Meanwhile, after several failed attempt to deliver the their protest petition, the leadership of the protest appealed to their supporters to go home and prepare themselves for the next course of action, which will be announced on Monday, June 10, 2019.  

By Paul Kanneh in Monrovia

West African Journal Magazine

 

 

Mass Citizens Protest Underway In Liberia

Monrovia, Liberia – June 7, 2019: The day is finally here.

Hundreds of  thousands of dissatisfied citizens in the small and poor West African country of Liberia have invoked their constitutional right to “petition” their Government over several grievances and the economic malaise the country is enduring under the Weah Administration.

Early Friday, West African Journal Magazine observed protesters assembling at various agreed designated points to begin their peaceful march to Capitol Hill, the seat of the national government, where, they say, they will submit their 19 count list of “grievances” to the Weah Government for a commitment to redress. President George M. Weah is not expected to receive the petition but has designated a proxy instead.

Shadowed by armed Liberian security forces in riot gear and vehicles, the protesters converged from points in the east and west of the city Monrovia. They chanted anti-government slogans. “We are tired, We are the masses but we can get tired, We want change”. One banner with the photo of President Weah and  carried by protesters read, “Generational Traitor”.

Supporters of the ruling Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and the Liberian President have criticized the protests as an attempt to unseat the Government.

Monitors from ECOWAS and the international community are also keeping an eye on the march. The organizers Council of Patriots (COP) are leading the march and have assured that the exercise will be peaceful.

On Thursday, the eve of the protest, Liberian security forces mounted a “show of force” of vehicles, weapons and riots gear. Some observers have termed the “show of force” as unnecessary and an attempt at intimidating the protesters while others say Government is leaving nothing to chance given the history of violent protests in Liberia.

Masses of peaceful protesters have been pouring into the city center and heading to the Capitol Hill area, the seat of National Government which houses the National Legislature, the Presidency and the Supreme Court. Protest organizers including Mo Ali, talk show Henry P. Costa and Abraham Darius Dillon are also marching with the protesters.

The demonstration has been peaceful so far.

Protesters are heard chanting anti-government slogans and accusing President George M Weah of massive corruption and ineptitude. Scores of protesters who are appearing in live video feed are narrating their displeasure with the Government and the harsh economic climate.

West African Journal Magazine is receiving reports that the internet in Liberia has been spotty  and off in some instances. Supporters and organizers of the mass protest are accusing the Government of Liberia of blocking internet access. Meantime, Virtual Private Network links are being shared and forwarded by internet and social media watchers to families and friends to allow them to broadcast scenes from the protest.

No arrests or major incidents have been reported. Security was augmented  by the Government on Thursday.

The Movement Justice in Liberia, an advocacy group in the United States is gathering in front of the Liberian Embassy in Washington DC in support of the mass protests back in Liberia. Organizers say they will also present a position statement to the Liberian diplomatic mission calling for reforms in the country.

The protest in Liberia is a major blow to the image of President George M. Weah whose popularity is fading quickly over his inability to address grinding poverty and economic issues since coming to power nearly one and half years ago. President Weah recently announced a series of economic policy initiatives to address concerns of citizens but they appear not to regain the confidence of citizens who are demanding immediate relief.

The protest is an embarrassment to the Administration, which, in the past, has boasted of massive support especially from the poor.

In anticipation of Friday’s protest, western embassies in the Liberian capital have advised their nationals to adopt a low profile and be alert.

Speeches are being made by protest organizers on Capitol Hill as thousands of citizens watch and listen.

By Our Correspondent in Monrovia

West African Journal Magazine

 

Liberia: Massive Turnout To Welcome Protest Leader & TalkShow Host

Thousands of supporters, on Thursday, May 16, 2019 came out to welcome the man who is seen by many including the government of Liberia as the “instigator” of the much publicized June 7 protest. 

Supporters Of Liberian Talkshow Host Henry P. Costa

According to our correspondent in Monrovia, the Liberian popular talk show host and political commentator, Henry Pedro Costa returned to Liberia from the United States of America to join his colleagues to lead the June 7 protest in demand of change. Many supporters who spoke to West Africa Journal Magazine said, they came out in solidarity with the planned June 7 protest. 

Speaking to our Monrovia Correspondent, scores of supporters, mostly young men and women said, their courage to welcome Henry Costa is driven by what they term as the “unprecedented economic hardship” being experienced under the George Weah government. 

Banner Carrying Supporters of Henry P. Costa

A motorcyclist who identified himself as Nathaniel said he parked his commercial motorcycle only to come and welcome the man he called his hero. According to him, his motivation to stand in the hot sun for hours waiting for one man is based on the message that he (Costa) preaches on the radio about corruption. 

“I am motivated to stand in the Hot sun because Costa is the voice of the voiceless”, said Nathaniel. 

He told our reporter that he will be part of the June 7 protest, and called on other well-meaning Liberians to join what he termed a campaign for “emancipation of the poor people.”

Chelsea William, a lady who joined the welcoming crowd from the Monrovia suburb of Chocolate City told President Weah to see the momentum of Costa’s arrival as a clear message.

“George Weah must see this as a message for our desire for change”, she intoned. According to Ms. William, she was tired of the difficulties and would appreciate if President George Weah could see reason to resign if he is not capable of leading the country. 

Young Liberians Welcoming Henry P. Costa

Bystanders who trooped in from their various quarters were heard describing the crowd as a prelude to June 7 protest. The arrival of Costa was characterized by parade from just outside of the city center In Sinkor to Central Monrovia where he addressed crowds of supporters.

Political spectators described the euphoria surrounding the welcome of a “common” talk show host as a display of frustration by the young people who are said to be feeling the difficulties associated with the country’s economy. 

By Paul Kanneh In Monrovia

West African Journal Magazine

Opposition ALP Withdraws From Dialogue With Liberian Government

Monrovia, Liberia – May 7, 2019: A major opposition political group in Liberia, the All People Party (ALP) says it is suspending all talks or dialogue with the ruling Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) Government.

All Liberia Party Press Statement

In a press statement issued on Monday in Monrovia, the political party said its decision to suspend dialogue is, “…until the Government fosters reasonable, fair and respectful approach towards the opposition, especially the opposition and the Office of the Chairman of the collaborating Political Parties…”

Mr. Benoni Urey heads the Coalition of Collaborating Opposition Political Parties in Liberia.

The 4-page statemment cited instances of unproven accusations made by the the Chairman of the CDC Mr. Mulbah Morlu, now suspended Deputy Information Minister Eugene Fahngon and Presidential Affairs Minister Nathaniel McGill against the ALP and others of the Coalition that they were plotting to assasinate President Weah. “The Leaders of the Collaborating Political Parties challenged President Weah and his party’s chairman to provide evidence to what the leaders described as false, malicious and baseless accusation, The CDC and President Weah failed to do so…”, the ALP said.

According to the party, President Weah, at a church Conference in Bong County, central Liberia earlier this year, confirmed the accusation.

The statement which was approved by the party’s National Chairman said, “The ALP believes in the face of rising economic challenges resulting to the growng tension in the country, the CDC led Government lacks better approach to finding remedy to the country’s current problems. As a result, the CDC and President Weah have embarked upon a campaign of scapegoating and diversionary futile political activities by engaing in slanderous attacks on the reputations of Hon. Benoni W. Urey, Cllr. Charles Brumskine, Ambassador Alexander Cummings and Ambassador Joseph. N. Boakai.”

The opposition party led by businessman Urey charged that its “…leadership therefore is of the conviction that both Chairman Morlu and President Weah’s Actions are anti-peaceful and hence a recipe for distrust and lack of confidentialty. The ALP believes what is being prematurely uttered by Chairman Mulbah Morlu, Ministers Nathaniel McGill and Eugene Fahngon is a direct reflection of President Weah’s instruction. Otherwise, we challenge President Weah to have Chairman Morlu removed and subsequently dismiss Ministers McGill and Fahngon immediately…”

All Liberia Party Logo
All Liberia Party Logo

In closing, the ALP announced its endorsement of the June 7 peaceful protests and called on ‘well-meaning Liberians” to join in. A major anti-government protest has been called for June 7th by organizers under the banner Council of Patriots to petition for redress to economic and political issues facing the poor West African Country.

The statement is the first response of the ALP to a series of attacks and accusations against its leader and his business by the CDC Chairman Morlu and allies of the Government. At a recent gathering at the CDC headquarters, Chairman Morlu gave an ultimatum to the telcommunications company Lonestar Cell MTN to distance itself from Mr. Urey or face “citizens withdrawal from the company services.”

The Weah Government is under serious political and economic pressures to provide relief for struggling citizens.

By Our Correspondent In Monrovia

West African Journal

Former TRC Head And IJG Executive Director Cllr Jerome Verdier Calls For Implementation of TRC Report

Washington DC – April 12, 2019: The Executive Director of The International Justice Group (IJG) and Chairman of the erstwhile Liberia’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Liberia (TRC) says he is delighted and is lauding the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) and the Transitional Justice Working g Group (TJWG) for recognizing the need for entrenching Justice into the country’s body polity.

Executive Director of IJG and Former TRC Head Counselor Jerome Verdier
Executive Director of IJG and Former TRC Head Counselor Jerome Verdier

He is also welcoming their courageous calls for the full implementation of all the recommendations of the TRC, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Economic and War Crimes Tribunal for Liberia.

In an statement to West African Journal Magazine on Friday, Cllr Verdier reiterated that the call for the full implementation of all TRC recommendations is in keeping with law and section 46 of The TRC Act when it clearly stated that “The Independent Human Rights Commission shall be seized with the responsibility to ensure that all the recommendations contained in Report of the TRC are implemented and that and that civil society organizations and moral guarantors of The CPA shall be seized of the responsibility to monitor,  and campaign for the scrupulous implementation of all recommendations  contained in the report”.

Liberia President George M. Weah
Liberia President George M. Weah

And Section 48 which also provides that “The Head of State shall report to the National Legislature within three (3) months of receipt of the report of the TRC, and on a quarterly basis thereafter, as to the implementation of the Commission’s Recommendations. All recommendations shall be implemented. Where the implementation of any recommendations has not been complied with, the Legislature shall require the Head of State to show cause for such non-compliance.”

Chairman Verdier charged that both the Liberian National Legislature and the Liberia President George M. Weah are in open violation of the laws of Liberia and the Rule of Law principle which places the law far above individuals and institutions created by law. The former TRC Chairman said maintaining the Rule of Law is important for maintaining a stable and more peaceful society and acts as the number one incentive for attracting international trade, commerce and foreign investments to the Country.

Liberia TRC
Liberia TRC

“That the Liberia Chief Executive, President Weah, to be in open violation of the law without any plausible excuse or justification is a non-starter especially for a new Government,” Cllr Verdier said, adding that “the President and his CDC- controlled Legislature are undermining the viability of the State and setting very wrong precedence for security, stability and peace of the State because soon the citizens will realize that if these important institutions of State are lawless and disrespectful of the laws then they too as citizens have the right to refuse to obey the laws of the land, pointing to chaos, a breakdown of law and order and the eventual unraveling of our fledgling democratic process.”

The Executive Director of the IJG Cllr Verdier, in his statement, noted Liberia should recognize, as the international community has long since recognized, that the rule of law above all men is imperative because it stabilizes our environment and societies.

“It is very Central to maintaining our modern global social, political and economic order the pursuit of which we all must submit to the rule of law whether it pleases us or not or runs contrary to our intrinsic interest, he maintained,” he said

The learned international human rights advocate and outspoken campaigner for social justice and peace said that “the Rule of Law is our best hope for peace, equity, justice and a civilized society in which the rights of the people are protected and at all times guaranteed.”

Members of the Legislature
Cross Section of Liberia National Legislature

According to him, “President George Weah and the National Legislature are failing and disappointing the Liberian people too early on in their leadership and ignoring the Rule of Law. It is to their own peril because when they stand in need of the law most, the law will fail them, having undermined the law and our institutions of law.”

Verdier emphasized that the full implementation of all the recommendations of Liberia’s TRC Final Report, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia is “sine qua non” to the attainment of sustainable national peace, national  unity, national security and national reconciliation in in a non-threatening society that offers equal opportunity to all.

“President Weah must not disappoint the Liberian people. Too many hopes were hinged to his ascendency. He must take the moral high ground in service to state and abandon petty parochial interests, recognize that he took an oath and made a sworn declaration to put Liberia first, hold Paramount national interest and uphold sacrosanct the Constitution and Laws of the Republic; otherwise, he will be an ordinary and failed leader and admiration by the people will soon diminish and will leave office soon forgotten as a son of the soil and a “man of the people” without a legacy and a champion “without a cause”, Cllr Verdier in his statement said.

Meanwhile, the IJG Executive Director has condemned the recent removal of Supreme Court Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, describing it as a “shameful cowardly act orchestrated by a band of political malcontents without any well-founded basis in law or the Constitution by an overly ambitious Executive branch aspiring to become a dictatorship, a rueful House of Representatives, an ignorant Senate and a highly compromised Chief Justice in a Kangaroo forum that flagrantly violated the Constitution of Liberia, which they neither understand nor appreciate; thus bringing shame and disgrace to our beloved patrimony.”

Chief Justice Francis Korkpor
Chief Justice Francis Korkpor

Cllr Verdier, a veteran and successful senior Liberian lawyer and member of The Honorable Supreme Court Bar, went on to say of all the reasons in law and the Constitution that the co-conspirators could use to effect their cowardly and unpatriotic act, they chose to woefully, shamefully and disgracefully violate the Constitution when in Article 73, the Constitution provides that “NO JUDICIAL OFFICIAL SHALL BE SUMMONED, ARRESTED, DETAINED, PROSECUTED OR TRIED CIVILLY, OR CRIMINALLY, BY OR BY THE INSTANCE OF ANY PERSON OR AUTHORITY ON ACCOUNT OF JUDICIAL OPINIONS RENDERED OR EXPRESSED, JUDICIAL STATEMENTS MADE  AND JUDICIAL ACTS DONE IN THE COURSE OF A TRIAL IN OPEN COURT  OR IN CHAMBERS, EXCEPT FOR TREASON OR OTHER FELONIES, MISDEMEANOR, OR BREACH OF THE PEACE. STATEMENTS MADE AND ACTS DONE BY SUCH OFFICIALS IN THE COURSE OF JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS SHALL BE PRIVILEGED, AND SUBJECT TO THE ABOVE QUALIFICATION, NO SUCH STATEMENTS MADE OR ACTS DONE SHALL BE ADMISIBLE INTO EVIDENCE AGAINST THEM AT ANY TRIAL OR PROCEEDINGS”

In his view, Cllr Verdier held that Justice Ja’neh was under-represented, and his lawyers should be subject to disciplinary hearings and punished or sanctioned, while those lawyers for the prosecution must be disbarred and the Chief Justice deserves to be removed or similarly impeached or made to resign.

Associate Justice Kabineh Jan'eh
Associate Justice Kabineh Jan’eh

Since the case is not over yet, the international lawyer, former TRC head and Executive Director of the IJG called on the Liberian Senate to NOT move to confirm removal of The Honorable Justice Ja’neh until the full bench of the Supreme Court of Liberia disposes of the matter by appeal.

“Advocates or lawyers for Justice Ja’neh must perfect an appeal to the full bench of the Honorable Supreme Court. In which case, the Compromised Chief Justice will be compelled  to recuse himself and the remaining Justices will decide the appeal,” Verdier concluded in his statement.

West African Journal Magazine

 

Accused Liberian War Criminal Indicted In Switzerland: To Face Trial

Geneva, Switzerland, March 26, 2019: It appears that a former Liberian rebel and war actor will face prosecution in Europe, Switzerland after all.

Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber
Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber

The SWI swissinfo.ch – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) reports that after nearly five years of investigation, the country’s Swiss Attorney General has issued an indictment of Alieu Kosiah for war crimes he allegedly committed during Liberia’s back-to-back wars and his case will now goes to trial.

A statement from the Office of the Swiss Attorney General seen on Tuesday by the West African Journal Magazine says, “The defendant is accused of having ordered the murder respectively murdering or participating in the murder of civilians and soldiers hors de combat, desecrated a corpse of a civilian, raped a civilian, ordered the cruel treatment of civilians, recruited and employed a child soldier, ordered several pillages and ordered and/or participated in forced transports of goods and ammunition by civilians.”

Accused War Criminal Alieu Kosiah
Accused War Criminal Alieu Kosiah

Mr. Kosiah was picked up and detained in Switzerland since 2014 and he is the first person to be held for prosecution on charges brought by the Office of the Swiss Attorney General.

Following criminal complaints filed by several Liberians in 2014, the accused Mr. Kosiah was identified as a former rebel commander with the United Liberation Movement of Liberia (ULIMO). He has been a resident of Switzerland. The Attorney General then launched an investigation into criminal charges that Kosiah was responsible for committing war crimes in Liberia.

According to the Office of the  Swiss Attorney General, the collection of evidence against the accused was complicated by what it called the “lack of cooperation from Liberia and long period of time which had elapsed since the events in Liberia.”

About 25 witnesses have given testimonies to the Office of the Swiss Attorney General which has also received legal assistance from several international organizations.

Former Warlord Turned Senator Prince Y. Johnson
Former Warlord Turned Senator Prince Y. Johnson

Liberia was wracked by  horrendous civil wars in the 1990s. Various militias are accused of committing gross human rights abuses against unarmed civilians including the intentional dislocation of large sections of the populations.

Following the wars, belligerents agreed to the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which completed its work in June, 2012, submitted its Final Report to the Liberian Government and among several recommendations called for the establishment of a War Crimes Tribunal to prosecute those identified as responsible for gross war and economic crimes.

But The Government of Liberia has been reluctant to implement recommendations of the TRC.

Accused Agnes Taylor and Tom Woweiyu
Accused Agnes Taylor and Tom Woweiyu

Some of those accused in the report including former rebel warlord turned Senator Prince Y. Johnson of the Independent National Patriotic Front (INPFL) have angrily rejected any attempts to bring them to justice and have vowed to resist the establishment of a War Crimes Tribunal in the West African country. The main rebel leader Charles Taylor turned former President Charles Taylor was forced from office, later arrested, prosecuted and convicted on 11 counts of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity for supporting rebels who carried out atrocities in Sierra Leone in return for “blood diamonds”. He is presently serving a 50 year jail term.

The reluctance of the new Weah Government to commit to fully implementing the recommendations of the TRC, in spite of calls the local rights groups and the international community, has led to a campaign to support the establishment of a War Crimes Tribunal in Liberia.

President George Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor - File Photo
President George Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor – File Photo

Support for proposed Congressional House Bill 1055 is growing in the U.S. for the establishment of a War Crimes Tribunal.

Seal of International Justice Group
Seal of International Justice Group

Last week a rights groups including the Movement for Justice in Liberia (MOJL) and the International Justice Group (IJG) led supporters to the office of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and presented a statement in which they said, “… we are equally optimistic that Resolution 1055 will be a reality, War and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia will be a success story, and corruption and impunity will become history. It is only when we achieve these milestones, will we become an economically, socially and politically vibrant nation..”

Seal of Movement For Justice In Liberia
Seal of Movement For Justice In Liberia

Already, some supporters of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) led Government are accusing rights groups of supporting the “economic strangulation” of the Weah government by their statement to U.S. House Speaker Pelosi.

Several Liberian war actors including former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Tom Woweiyu, Agnes Reeves Taylor and Martina Johnson are facing international justice. Mohammed “Jungle Jabbah” Jabateh, a former ULIMO rebel commander, is currently serving a 30 year prison term on immigration fraud charges in the U.S.

Sealed indictments have been drawn up against some Liberians which have been accused of war and economic crimes in Liberia.

Political Map of Liberia
Political Map of Liberia

Others accused of committing atrocities and who fled the country are living under assumed names in parts of Africa, Europe and the United States. One of such persons is a former commander in the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) who, in the early days of the rebel invasion in Liberia, led a death squad that murdered a prominent Liberian architect and Mayor of the suburban city of Clay Ashland, Mayor Mr. R. Vanjah Richards. At the time, the Defense Ministry in Liberia said Major Johnson and his men “deviated from their mission”. Johnson later disappeared from Liberia.

West African Journal Magazine has been reliably informed by credible sources that the accused, Henry K. Johnson, is hiding out in the U.S.

International investigators say they will continue to pursue accused Liberia war and economic criminals and bring them to justice or bring justice to them.

By Our Correspondents in Europe, Liberia and the U.S.

West African Journal Magazine

 

 

 

Liberian Presidential Adviser Threatens Weah Critics

Monrovia, Liberia – March 25, 2019: An Ivorian national in the orbit of Liberian President George M. Weah is threatening a talk show host and Liberian opposition member and good governance advocate on social media.

Ousman Bamba’s Facebook Posts

In a Facebook post seen by West African Journal Magazine over the weekend, Ivorian businessman, politician and Liberian Presidential advisor Ousmane Bamba wrote the following in French under a video presentation of Darius a Dillon: “Henry Costa et touts des petit garçons. Cos n’etespas use menace pour le President du Liberia.”

Radio Talkshow Host Henry Costa

English Translation: “Henry Costa and all the little boys. Your days are numbered. You are not a threat to the a President of Liberia.”

In a second post under the same name of the poster which was automatically translated into English, Ousmane Bamba writes, “You should be grateful to have King George Weah at the position of a President, instead of being hateful. as Ivorian, I wish a George to be president of cite d’Ivoire.”

Second Facebook Post of Ousmane Bamba

Mr. Bamba’s threatening posts have drawn wide condemnation among some Liberians across social media platforms.

Who Is Ousmane Bamba?

Facebook Profile of Ousmane Bamba

In his social media profile, Bamba says he works for the Government of Liberia, lives in Monrovia and is from Abidjan,Cote d’Ivoire He does not indicate what portfolio he occupies as an employee of the Liberian Government but has photos of himself: in a suit and the national colors Côte d’Ivoire and one dressed in white traditional outfit and cap and seated on the left next to President George M. Weah.

Ousmane Bamba

West African Journal Magazine has been looking into the Ivorian businessman’s past in his native Côte d’Ivoire.

In 2016, Ousmane Bamba, a member of the ruling Rally of the Republicans (RDR) political party of President Alassane Dramane Ouattara, tried to challenge the establishment when he contested a legislative seat as an independent to represent Lomokankro, Molonou, Tiébissou and Yakpabo-Sakasou political districts.

He is a former Mayor of Tiebissou and a party Secretary of that area but was suspended after he made his independent bid for the Ivorian Legislature in a December, 2016.

His known desire to settle some past political and economic scores against “perceived enemies” in the ruling establishment sank his chances to become a legislator.

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattarra

It is a known fact that President Ouattara is a “close friend” of former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who had been indicted in the Final Report of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and was at risk of potential prosecution if Weah came to power.

Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

So any known associates of Weah, including Bamba, were not not seen in a favorable light by Ouattara who did not want anyone to “trouble” his friend Ellen.

In January, 2017, Bamba was jailed at the Abidjan House of Arrest and Correction (MACA) and faced prosecution on charges of the misuse of social goods, forgery and use of false in private writing of trade and banking. The case related to $9 billion French Francs, an equivalent of about $17.2 million USD in a company known as I-Com Technology that Bamba and his business partner René Yédiéti were involved with. The company provided computer accessories services to the Ivorian Legislature.

Ousmane Bamba Seated Next To President George M. Weah – File Photo

But he was released from incarceration in March, 2017- just in time for him to transition to Liberia to play a critical role in the Weah Presidential Campaign for the elections which swept the President a Weah to power.

The prominent businessman from the town of Tiebissou in central Côte d’Ivoire, handled the finances (bagman) of the Weah campaign.

Ousmane Bamba And President George M. Weah – File Photo

Bamba, as Weah’s campaign Treasurer, was instrumental in making connections with his French business partners and important “friends” in the sub-region to attract much needed campaign funding and face-time with Weah.

Candidate Weah Visiting President Faure Gnassingbe in Togo – File Photo

During the campaign, the connections paid off and Weah visited the Presidents of Togo, Ghana, Niger, Mali and Gabon to be seen as burnishing his international credentials.

He was reluctantly received by Ouattara in Abidjan and although their meeting was cordial and diplomatic, it was was mechanical and not substantive. Ouattara was keen on extracting commitments from Weah that he protect former President Johnson Sirleaf.

The fraud case involving Bamba and his business partner was resolved two years later in January, 2019 when a magistrate ruled that he was not culpable in the matter.

Pres. Weah And Ousmane Bemba File Photo

Sources in Weah’s orbit say he is very loyal to those who helped propel him to power including Bamba. At the inauguration of the new Mosque in Tiebissou sponsored y President Weah in the hometown of Bamba, on a July 6, 2018, Bamba accompanied him.

Pres Weah And Adviser Bamba – File Photo

Bamba always features prominently in photo ops with President Weah at various occasions locally and internationally including his visits to France, Senegal and Israel and is seen as firmly entrenched as an influential member of President Weah’s inner circle.

Ousmane Bamba In File Photos With President Weah

French President Emmanuel Macron And Ousmane Bamba – File Photo

Dillon and Costa have not officially responded to Bamba’s threat against them.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine