President Weah sharply rejects assassination plot allegation, describes Senator Johnson as the real killer
MONROVIA – The war of words between President George Manneh Weah and his one-time political ally, Senator Prince Yormie Johnson has taken another twist after the President took to his pulpit to debunk allegations that he is plotting to kill the Nimba County Senator.
Senator Johnson and his Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) Party have accused the Weah-led government of a plotting to assassinate him (Johnson). Their allegation came after the MDR announced that it was parting ways with President Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) because it has failed to live up to the agreement signed in 2017 that led Senator Johnson to support to President Weah’s presidential bid in the runoff-off election.
Taking to his pulpit at his Forkay Klon Jlaleh Church on Robertsfield Highway, President Weah said he is not a killer and has no plans to murder anyone. He accused Senator Johnson of having a tainted character of and being a divisive figure who manipulates people to get what he wants.
“Do I look like somebody who can kill anybody?” the President asked rhetorically. Who are you that somebody will come to assassinate? You manipulate people every day. That’s why nobody want to work with you. Are you infallible. You don’t know what you did in this country?”
Further debunking the allegation, President Weah said, it could be the ghosts of those Senator Johnson killed during the war that are haunting him.
Senator Johnson was one of the fiercest rebel leaders during the first Liberian civil war. His group, the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), tortured and killed President Samuel Kanyon Doe in 1990. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) accused him and his rebel faction of committed some of worst atrocities during the war, and named him among several Liberians to face prosecution before a war crimes court.
His support to then Senator Weah in 2017 was pivotal to his massive win during the runoff as his vote-rich Nimba, which had a history of voting the Unity Party in presidential runoff elections, broke rank and voted Weah.
In December 2021, Johnson was sanctioned by the United States Treasury Department for corruption. In a statement issued, the US Treasury alleged that Senator Johnson “is involved in pay-for-play funding with government ministries and organizations for personal enrichment. As part of the scheme, upon receiving funding from the Government of Liberia (GOL), the involved government ministries and organizations launder a portion of the funding for return to the involved participants.”
The Treasury Department also accused Senator Johnson of offering the sale of votes in multiple Liberian elections in exchange for money and for receiving a government salary as an intelligence source even though he does not provide any form of intelligence reporting to the GOL. The statement further that “Johnson is reportedly being paid in order to maintain domestic stability”.
He has since denied the allegations. However, President Weah, who has also been accused of shielding Johnson from any future war crimes prosecution to get his backing for vote-rich Nimba in the impending elections appeared to have validated the Treasury Department’s claim that he was not in the position to dish out money to anyone in return of vote.
“Anybody that wants to vote for us will vote for us. And any body that is going to ask me for money because they want to declare their support to my party, I rather give the money to the people of Liberia… This Government is not going to be tied down or blackmailed by anybody. If you don’t want to work with us, step aside.”
In the wake of the President’s latest outburst, Senator Johnson’s MDR has vowed to respond. In a social media post, a stalwart of the MDR, Kelvin D J. Mattaldi posted: “The Movement for Democracy & Reconstruction will release a major press statement shortly… The battle lines are drawn. President Weah vs us.”