This week in our regular Profile Segment, we once again climb the stairs of the home of the Liberian Legislature, the Capitol Building on Capitol Hill, this time at the Liberian Senate where a member of the Liberian Senate was captured as GNN-Liberia Profile of the Week after highlighting last week a member of the House of Representatives, Nimba County District #9, Johnson N Gwaikolo was featured on this platform aimed at to showcase individuals who are making progress in the growth and development of Africa’s oldest Republic, Liberia.
Senator Conmany B. Wesseh of River Gee County, a longtime political activist, and a professional and qualified administrator, and also a committed Liberian who have over the years fought for social justice opting for the freedom of his people is quietly seated at the Liberian Senate to promulgate the laws in the interest of the Liberian people.
Prior to him being seated at the Liberian Senate, ‘Conmany’ as he is affectionately call, ran for the Liberian Senate in 2005, 2009, and 2011, losing each time, but fortunately for him he won his 2014 campaign for the Senate with 26.1% of the vote in his home county, River Gee County.
Academically, Senator Conmany Wesseh studied at the University of Liberia, and was a member of the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) during the 1979 Rice Riots, in which MOJA played a key role.
During the Liberian Civil War, Wesseh worked with Amos Sawyer as executive director and co-founder of the Center for Democratic Empowerment, after the Liberian senseless civil war, he joined Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity Party.
He was appointed by the than president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sireaf to several positions within her government, including Ambassador to the United Nations, since his ascendancy at the Liberian Senate for his County, River Gee, the learned Liberian politician has made several strides in creating a conducive environment for a peaceful coexistence for Liberia and its foreign partners.
His international contacts has him famous amongst his colleagues, including his visit last year (2020) at the headquarters of the Cuban Embassy where he was received by the Chief of Mission, Mercedes L. Martínez Herrera who expressed satisfaction for Senator Wesseh’s visit at the Embassy and his desire to contribute to the increase of the bonds between both countries. He also reiterated his appreciation for the assistance provided by Cuba to Liberia during the Ebola epidemic of 2014.
For her part, the Cuban diplomat thanked the distinguished representative of the Liberian Senate for his visit. She also assured that his presence at the Embassy was an unequivocal expression of the good state of diplomatic relations between both nations and of the solidarity of the African people towards Cuba.
Due to his explicit nationalistic commitment to his County and its people, ahead of the 2023 political heats key stakeholders including traditional leaders, chiefs, and elders have resolved to petition their senator given him the opportunity to seek re-election for the upper chambers of the national legislature in 2023.
According to a local daily, quoting insiders close to the organizers, though detailed information about the event, such as when and where it will take place is still sketchy, the development is said to be an outcome of ongoing discussions and consultations relating to the political future of River Gee in 2023 as the time draws nearer.
Exerting his legislative powers, recently, the River Gee County Senator wrote the plenary of the Liberian Senate requesting that the senate made President George Manneh Weah and the Executive Branch of government to make available copies of this year’s Annual Message.
President Weah on January 24, this year, made his fourth Annual Message to both members of the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate in a joint special session in the William Richard Tolbert Joint Chambers at the Capitol Building in Monrovia.
According to a communication read in the senate plenary Thursday February 04, signed by Sen. Wesseh “it has been a week since the President George Weah presented to the Liberian Legislature his administration’s legislative agenda in line with article 58 of the 1986 Constitution, which state, The President shall, on the fourth working Monday in January of each year, present the administration’s legislative program for the ensuing session, and shall once a year report to the Legislature on the state of the Republic. In presenting the economic condition of the Republic the report shall cover expenditure as well as income.”
Sen. Wesseh, a stalwart of the former ruling Unity Party noted that the senate and his colleagues are aware, the report was verbally presented thereby making it impossible for legislators to do justice to what the framers of the constitution envisaged.
“Accordingly, I am appealing to plenary to request the president of Liberia to present to the senate written copies of the report in order for us to open up his legislative program for discussion and approval where necessary. We also need to see in clear terms, the expenditure as well as our national income,” he concluded.
Senator Wesseh was recently in the news when he publicly announced and with his colleagues that the Legislature has ‘not signed any joint resolution’ authorizing the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to print a new family Banknotes of Liberian Dollars.
Senator Wesseh stated that ‘to give authorization for printing of Banknotes, the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate need a joint resolution signed by both bodies before any further action can be taken in keeping with the constitution if Liberia.
The River Gee Senator said if CBL goes agreed in printing the much publicized 48 billion dollars new family Banknotes without a joint resolution, the CBL would have violated the Liberian constitution which amounts to Treason.
He further stated what is currently in placed contrary to public perception is both Houses of the Legislature have a separate resolution passed, but does not constitute a Joint resolution for authorization as being speculated.
Recently it was reported by the Liberian media that the Senate in joint resolution concurred with the House of Representatives to pass a little over 48billion new family Banknotes of Liberian Dollars, however, Senator Wesseh has categorically denied this report as mere speculation.
Sen Wesseh reveal that both houses would signed the joint Resolution immediately after the Easter break, at which time both the House and the Senate shall have set up a conference committee that will see the final passage of a joint resolution authorizing the CBL to print.
The tough-talking senator in one of his interaction with journalists expressed concern on the issue of the establishment of the war crime court in Liberia, noting that there will be no amnesty for war criminals especially, people who fully participated either as perpetrators or accomplices during the 14 years of civil wars in Liberia.
Senator Wesseh, who is a signatory to the Accra Peace Accord which gives birth to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said the document did not at given space to grant amnesty to war criminals contrary to claim by some war actors.
He explains that the establishment of a war crimes court for the country is necessary so those who reportedly committed crimes against humanity can answer their charges and that others want to explain what actually happened during the bloody civil crises that left at least 250,000 persons dead, including women and children.
Sen. Wesseh notes that being prosecuted in court does not necessarily make a suspect guilty, as some alleged perpetrators too may just want to clear their names from allegations levied against them.
A former student leader and ambassador during the regime of ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, he clarifies the Act that established the TRC says it should recommend amnesty under terms and conditions of application of individual person making full disclosure of their wrongs and thereby expressing remorse for their acts.
According to him, some actors are yet to show the sound of remorse especially, during the thematic hearings of the TRC back in 2007/2008, underscoring to create a balance between perpetrators and victims, there’s a need for the establishment of a war crimes court.
However, he points out that taking into count the competing national demands with a limited national budget, it appears that the establishment of the court is far-fetch.
He says establishing such a court requires huge funding that will be used to gather evidence, materials, logistics, and hire professionals.
He cautions Liberians not to engage the establishment of the court with emotions as those accused are not yet guilty or there’s nothing yet to prove guilt.
Commenting on the role of Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson, who commanded the rebels’ Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia in the wars, he says it would have been expedient for Senator Johnson to have rescues himself from discussions surrounding the establishment of said court.
Sen. Johnson has repeatedly maintained that he along with or warlords who signed the Peace Accord enjoy amnesty, and are, therefore, protected from prosecution.
Wesseh continues that though Senator Johnson is part of the Senate leadership, it would have been professional enough and given the Senate a breathing space was the Nimba Senator to have stepped aside during matters relating to the war crimes court discussion.
He argues that for Senator PYJ to have signed the Senate Leadership’s recent recommendation on the TRC Report to President George Manneh Weah harms the image of the report.
“His presence along and signing of the report undermines the credibility of the report. He’s an actor and key one forming part of the discussion leading or calling for the establishment of the war crimes court is a dark cloud created already,” the River Gee Lawmaker says.
Asked whether he (Wesseh) fears Senator Johnson, who slain President Samuel Doe in 1990, the former ambassador recalls that he played even more fearful roles while serving as an advisor to former interim president Amos Sawyer, moving between battle lines and warring factions.
The TRC Final Report release in 2008, recommends prosecution for key actors, including warlords who allegedly committed heinous crimes and crimes against humanity.
As a lawmaker, Senator Wessh has also expressed concern over the growing wave of violence coupled with the alarming rate of verbal attacks by both the ruling establishment and the opposition, River Gee County Senator, Conmany B. Wesseh, has raised alarm over what could lead to a ‘potential conflict’ if not averted.
Speaking recently during the launch of the Covid-19 Elections Monitoring and Violence Prevention Situation (CEMViP-SR), the River Gee County Senator, who is also a stalwart of the former ruling Unity Party (UP) and member of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), pointed out that the languages being used by both the ruling and opposition parties are scaring.
He stated that the apparent failure of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)-led Government to prosecute perpetrators of violence is also exacerbating tension across the country, warning that if nothing tangible is done to bring stability, it could lead to further conflicts.
“The war drums are on. The languages that are used are scaring. The government must make sure to conclude at least one investigation and take action for deterrence,” he stated.
“No more Nigerians and Ghanaians are going to come and die for us. We need to reduce the risk of security by doing the minimum things we can do,” the River Gee County lawmaker further warned.
GNN Liberia profile of this week is happily married to Ambassador Medina A. Wesseh Esq, Secretary General of the regional organization Mano River Union, and blessed with a host of children.