Paye Layleh Seek Clarity
-After ‘Accusation’ From President Weah
Mr. Jonathan Paye Layleh, the Liberia correspondent for the British Broadcasting Corporation is seeking clarity for Liberian President George Manneh Weah amid allegations from the President during a media stakeout with the visiting United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Amina J. Mohammed and other foreign dignitaries, in which the President accused him of being against him with his reportage.Mr. Paye Layleh explained that he took offense to the President’s accusations when he posed a question to the visiting UN official. “I asked the visitor if the UN was willing to support efforts in Liberia to set up a war crimes court like it did in Sierra Leone; and in the same question I asked President Weah if he too was willing to allow such a process in Liberia because Human Rights Watch had asked him to create an avenue for victims of the Liberian wars to face their alleged perpetrators ; in answering the question, the president accused me in a live broadcast that when he was working for human rights in Liberia before becoming president, I was one person against him.”
Mr. Paye Layleh says he is appealing to the media community to seek some explanation from the office of the president as such a statement from a populist and popular president has far-reaching impacts. “You can never tell what this would mean to Mr. President’s tens of thousands of supporters some of whom are too young to be able to analyse issues. I have asked the Press Union of Liberia and the entire media community to seek an explanation from Mr. President.”
Mr. Paye Layleh’s concerns comes just 24 hours after President Weah assured Liberians of his administration’s continued support to press freedom.
Speaking when he served as a keynote speaker at the official turning over of UNMIL Radio Station ECOWAS station, held at the Pan African Plaza in Monrovia, the President recounted the numerous efforts by the UN and the collective will of the sub-region to support freedom of the press, human rights, as well as sustain the consolidated gains that have been made in Liberia on its path to development, progress and democracy after years of turmoil.
President Weah noted that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains a milestone document in the history of human rights and assured the UN that he will work with the National Legislature to ensure that those laws that criminalize free speech be repealed, as they serve as a form of media censorship and muscling of the press.
President Weah added that the Liberian government supports the Table Mountain Declaration; a key instrument for press freedom and free speech, which was signed by his predecessor, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2012. “We believe, no person should be arrested, intimidated or harassed for freely expressing their opinions on any subject”, he said.
In recent days, several of the Presidents’ aide including former youth leader Jefferson Koijee, Finance Minister Samuel Tweah and Deputy Minister Eugene Fahngon have taken turns raining verbal assaults on the media.
Now in the wake of his accusations against the BBC correspondent, Mr. Paye Layleh is seeking answers, insisting that he has never had any confrontation with Mr. Weah, even before he became president. “We all have instead given promotion to all that he has done, as footballer, former footballer and as a politician; he was never in any human rights work as far as I know and even if he was in any human rights struggle, I could never have been against him for working for human rights in Liberia. I think a clear explanation from the President or his office —- citing instances —– will give an insight into what the allegations are. When a president says an individual is or was against him, it means a lot.”