Accessibility links

Former Taylor Ally Elected Liberia's House Speaker


Liberia's new post-war parliament has elected the controversial Edwin Snowe as its new speaker. The independent congressman won election to the country's third-highest position, despite being under a United Nations travel ban.

A parliament official announced Snowe's easy victory, 48 to 13, with two spoiled ballots, in the 63-member house.

Prior to his victory, Snowe, said he would be a viable opposition to President-elect Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

"We've come today to give Liberia a new hope," said Edwin Snowe. "My honorable colleagues, I've come today as a symbol of good leadership. I've come today as the young gentleman with dignity, with pride, one that is prepared to move this first branch of government forward. We've come today to denounce imperial presidency by giving this body its due independence."

Snowe is the former head of the Liberian football association, as well as a former close associate and son-in-law of former President Charles Taylor, who faces accusations of war crimes in Sierra Leone.

During the transition period following Taylor's departure into Nigerian exile, Snowe served as managing director of the Liberian Petroleum Refining company. He has denied repeated accusations of corruption.

But he was prevented from attending a recent workshop for newly elected parliamentarians outside Liberia because he is still under the UN travel ban. It was imposed due to his activities during Liberia's civil war which ended in 2003.

Outside parliament, a group of a dozen disabled Liberians gathered in support of Snowe's victory, including this man.

"He can cater to the poor, he can take care of the poor, poor people, the people in the streets," he said. "He wants us in the streets to live a better life. Edwin Snowe is the best man in this country to be speaker of parliament."

But a larger group of protesters held up signs saying it was an embarrassment that Snowe had been elected and that he would only defend his own interests.

One young man explained.

"Here's a man under travel ban," he said. "In my view, this travel ban, the UN did not place it because it wants to place it. Its in our interest. Here's a man who was part and parcel of a regime that squandered resources at the expense of the downtrodden masses and now here's a man who is becoming speaker of the house, he will be giving you peanuts."

Many of the protesters alleged Snowe won by buying votes, but members of the newly sworn-in parliament denied this.

Senators elected Isaac Nyenabo as their new president, and after his win, he got a big hug from another new senator, former warlord Prince Johnson.

Another member of this controversial post-war Congress is Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor. She is currently seeking a divorce from her exiled husband and supported Sirleaf, who will be inaugurated Monday.

XS
SM
MD
LG