Monrovia, FPA –– The United State Embassy has declined to address numerous inquiries regarding speculations that Liberia’s Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor was denied visa to travel to the United States of America. FrontPageAfrica and other media institutions recently made inquiries to the US mission in Monrovia but has been informed that privacy laws restrict the embassy from discussing status of applicants for visas.
Responding to an inquiry Friday, Mr. Robert J. Clarke, Jr., Information Assistant at the embassy wrote: “Following inquiries from some media institutions about a U.S. Visa issue concerning Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, herein is the response of the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia. U.S. privacy laws prohibit us from discussing any person’s visa application status, immigration status, or citizenship status with anyone other than the person in question.” The Vice President was reportedly looking to attend the sixty-second session of the Commission of Women schedule to take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from March 12 to 23rd 2018.
A source in the VP office acknowledged to FrontPageAfrica recently that the Embassy had not returned all members of the VPs delegation’s passports, including the VP as they’re doing some background check. The source added that the embassy notified the VP’s office that they were going through the regular process of obtaining visa except that they’ll not sit interview. Vice President Howard-Taylor was First Lady to former President Charles Taylor. The pair were married in 1997 but divorced 2006.
Howard-Taylor was elected to the Senate from vote-rich Bong County as a member of Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Party(NPP). During her husband’s reign as president, Howard-Taylor held a number of official posts including Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Liberia, President of the Agriculture Cooperative and Development Bank (ACDB) and Mortgage Financing Underwriter of the First Union National Bank. It is unclear whether the Vice President or any member of the reported delegation are still poised to make the trip to the US or whether the background checks have been completed. But Howard-Taylor did make a number of trips to the US during the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s government and attended a previous UN Women’s conference in New York.
At the height of the recently-held presidential and legislative elections, there were several concerns within the international community that the selection of the former first lady as running mate to George Weah would trigger a strong influence of former President Taylor in Liberian politics. This is not the first time that Howard-Taylor has been engulfed in US visa denial debacle. In 2012, similar reports surfaced and the embassy was forced to come out with a statement stating that a visa was issued to the then Senator to attend the General Assembly of the United Nations. “The U.S. Embassy in Liberia has issued a press statement with regard to recent media reports about the denial of a visa to Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor.
The statement read: “Contrary to earlier reports of a visa denial, Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor was issued a visa today for travel to the UN General Assembly,” the 2012 statement noted. During that visit to the US, Howard-Taylor acknowledged to the Voice of America that the “Taylor” name has its negatives and positives. But went on to say that she bears the name with honor and that people should judge her for her character and not on the basis of what her former husband might have done or did not do. Taylor said the old prejudices that come with her former husband’s name will come to pass, especially as she continues to make what she called “a positive impact on the landscape of Liberia and the international community.”
The former first lady was placed on the U.N. Travel Ban almost nine years ago after her husband was indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone for war crimes and crimes against humanity that he committed while serving as president of Liberia. At the height of the 2017 elections, Howard-Taylor was recorded in an interview stating that if the CDC-led government was elected, the Taylor agenda would be brought back to the table.
Addressing reporters in Saclepea, Nimba County this week, Senator Howard-Taylor said although former President Taylor is not involved in Liberian politics, she believes that the NPP he created is a grassroot party that made promises to its citizens since 1997. “Because of what happened in our government and the abrupt closure and arrest of former president Taylor we were not able to fulfill those promises. “The NPP is now strong, and so we want to call all of the NPP stalwarts across the length and breadth of Liberia to come on board and help us win these elections, we will put that agenda back on the table,” she said at the time.
However, in a later interview with Aljazeera, she softened her tone declaring: “You have to see where I’ve sat for the past 12 years and the agenda that I’ve carried. I’m the standard-bearer of the NPP and our motto is: “Above all else the people.” That is the NPP agenda. If someone says that Senator Taylor wants to bring back the Taylor agenda, I ask: “What is the Taylor agenda?” During the crisis I was not in the country; I was away at school. If I wasn’t here, there’s no way you can say I was involved.”