Signs of Deeping Crack In President-VP Relations -Weah, Cabinet Yet to Visit Jewel After COVID Recovery?
No one had imagined that Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor who returned recently after undergoing medical treatment for COVID-19 complications that included spending 35 days in the Intensive Care Unit at Korle bu Hospital in Accra, Ghana, could have been shunned by her boss President George M. Weah and members of his cabinet. The Analyst has gathered that besides members of the Liberian House of Senate, the Women Legislative Caucus, and former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai are the only ones that have paid courtesy calls on Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor at her Congo Town residence to officially welcome her home after successfully recovering from COVID 19.
Interestingly, President Weah and his entire cabinet have completely distanced themselves from Vice President Taylor even after she narrowly escaped death in the hands of the dreaded COVID-19 for which she was flown out of the country – a situation that may amplified the widening rift between the Presidency and Vice President Madam Jewel Howard-Taylor.
Making brief remarks when he paid a courtesy call on the Vice President on Thursday, November 12, 2020, the former Vice President of Liberia and Political Leader of the opposition Unity Party, Ambassador Joseph Boakai, said he was grateful to God for giving VP Howard-Taylor another chance, while praying that she remains courageous in the discharge of her constitutional duties.
It can be recalled that Madam Vice President was flown to Accra, Ghana on an emergency flight on August 8, 2020 when she suffered respiratory complications as a result of COVID 19. Based on Medical diagnostics the Vice President was placed in intensive care for about 35 days under critical observations.
However, and surprisingly, according to credible sources, since the return of Madam Howard-Taylor, only delegations from the Honorable House of Senate and the Women Legislative Caucus had since paid a courtesy visit.
Concerns have been raised on the absence of cabinet members who are yet to pay a visit with the Honorable Vice President. The conspicuous absence of Cabinet members confirms rumors of an existing rift within the Executive Branch which pundits believe have largely contributed to the Government’s dismal performance so far.
“In Liberia, there is a belief that during the period of sickness and death that misunderstandings are easily buried. We thought President Weah and his Vice President would have used her recovery from the jaws of death and her return back home to cement their shaky relationship. How will Liberians be united and reconcile with one another when the two highest officials of the country are not even speaking to one another,” a concerned clergy wondered.
“Jewel is back and okay, is it not a time that the president embraces his Vice President with welcome and open arms, and thank God for her recovery from a pandemic that has killed and is still killing millions around the world including our own country Liberia?” an elderly citizen from the Boroughs of New Kru Town lamented.
“The rift between the Vice President and the President is serious; we need the intervention of the religious community and the traditional council. The President should play a leadership role in this process. This country rests on the shoulders of the President and his Vice President. In case anything goes wrong in this country both of them will be held responsible. Stop listening to these boys, Mr. President. They can be fired any time by you, the President. The country is not looking up to them. To the Vice President, continue to reach out to your boss. We know you are going through a difficult situation of having a boss that listens to almost everybody around him but is shunning you. Visit his church; plan a one-on-one meeting with him at his church on a Sunday with his key officials. Please break the ice,” another concerned Liberian passionately called out to the two national leaders.
Political observers and pundits have been taken aback by the frosty relationship that exists between President Weah and his Vice President. They recall that, with the exception of Sierra Leone where the then President sacked his Vice President (Current President of Sierra Leone) over political differences, African leaders largely coexist with their Vice Presidents in a fashion that enhances cohesiveness in governance.
In Liberia, where the Vice President serves as President of the Liberian Senate, Madam Taylor is expected to champion policies and programmes of the government in terms of promoting the passage of important bills. Many however believe that the estranged relationship between President Weah and his principal deputy does not auger well for the smooth running of a postwar country that should be striving to unify the people, enhance socioeconomic development and consolidate gains of the past instead of escalating squabbles that minimize government’s efforts to aptly cater to the welfare of its citizens.