October 2004 – Part 2: Ending the Kofi Woods Talks and Starting the FOGOW’s Fight

The political undercutting and infighting really hurt us. And recovering was from the self-inflated wounds was extremely difficult. This, I believe, caused us everything.

So after our very terrible meeting with Ambassador Weah that October 8 weekend, he and his team left for Florida and Georgia on Sunday, October 10. As I indicated previously, at the end of the meeting between Ambassador Weah and Kofi Woods at Al Jerome’s house, Kofi had indicated that we should meet soon. And so on Tuesday, October 12, Kofi requested that Dtweah and I should meet with him. Though we were not happy with Kofi for not informing us that Al Jerome had brokered a meeting for him with Ambassador Weah but we were excited that the senior brother wanted to meet with us and so went to see him that Tuesday evening (October 12, 2004) at this apartment in St. Paul. Because of Dtweah’s work schedule, we went to Kofi around 1 a.m. that morning.

At this point, things were moving very fast, at speed we were truly unable to comprehend. However, we did inform Kofi that we were prepared to fight the guys calling themselves FOGOW even it if meant derailing the vessel.

Anyway we left Kofi on a very good note and he had informed us that he and Amb. Weah were talking. We felt good about that but also troubled that it appears he was on the side of our opponents (FOGOW).

Then on Thursday, October 14, Dtweah got a call from Ambassador Weah that he (Dtweah) and I should join him in Florida on that weekend because Kofi and his guys were going there. We quickly tried to purchase our tickets so that we could make it there. It was not an easy thing to get the information on Thursday that you are needed in Florida on Friday. But because we needed to savage our infant political enterprise, we did not complain.

I was able to secure 2 tickets for Dtweah and myself but there was no way we could get there on Friday. The earliest we could get there was Saturday, October 16 around 1 pm in the afternoon. Those cheap tickets have a way of making several stops and so even though we were leaving early on Saturday morning, there was no way we could get there before 1 p.pm on Saturday.

Now, up to that time when we were getting on the flight to Florida, Kofi had not informed us that he had been invited to Florida but he had all his men informed and they were able to all get to Florida on Friday afternoon or evening which meant that they had sufficient time. The only person who got there about 2 a.m. on Saturday morning was James Verdier (yes JV). I guess he had to leave work before heading to Florida.

Others on Kofi’s delegation were Calvin Dwuye, George Yuoh, and Tarnue Mawolo (TM, now deceased). Patrick Chea (now deceased) was also there but I can say he was part of Ambassador Weah’s team. Patrick was the primary link between those calling themselves FOGOW and Amb. Weah. Off course Meme Gono and Carica were also there.

So Dtweah and I were busy hopping from one airport to another so that we could get to Florida in order to participate in the discussions. This meeting, for us, would demonstrate that we were still in the game. Thanks to Meme for vouching for us.

As the groups convened in Florida that Saturday morning, discussions started between the two teams: Team Weah and Team Kofi. At this point Dtweah and I have not made it to Florida yet so everything I recount here is what I was told by our side.

The information is that Ambassador Weah and Kofi Woods went in a separate location to hold discussions; to find time to bond more and to build the chemistry. On the other side were the 2 teams: Team Weah had Meme Gono, Carica and Patrick Chea while Team Kofi had James Verdier, Calvin Dwuye, Tarnue Mawolo and George Yuoh.

As the group started discussions, Team Weah proposed that it would be a good idea if Kofi Woods would honor Ambassador Weah’s request to join him as his vice running mate. Team Kofi, represented by James Verdier, screamed that it is was ridiculous and impossible for Kofi to run with Ambassador Weah as vice running mate because he didn’t think that Amb. Weah was capable of being president. This infuriated Team Weah and a shouting match ensued.

The loudness of the shouting caused Amb. Weah and Kofi to intervene. They calmed the group down and encouraged them to continue the conversation. So they went back into the second round of talks, the same shouting match ensued and this time it was uncontrollable and both sides decided to end the talks.

At this point, both principals had to disengage and the agreement was that they would reconvene at some point in time. It was during this break that Dtweah was able to locate Calvin Dwuye’s number and placed a call to him. Dtweah then informed Calvin that he and I were enroute to Florida and would be there in the next hour or so.

It was at this time that Kofi and team had the slightest idea that we were invited to the meeting too. At this point, I am angry and plotting how I would either express myself to Kofi or revenge against him for not been forthcoming with us even though we have tried to be with him.

So we got there and the mood in Florida was tense and horrible to say the least. We spoke to Kofi and his guys and then went to join our side to get proper briefing. Immediately upon receiving the briefing, I suggested that we should abandon the talks because it was useless to continue. My position was based on three (3) cardinal points:

  1. That the dismissal of Amb. Weah as head of ticket coming from James Verdier meant that it was Kofi’s position. If it had come from someone else then we could negotiate but from James Verdier? That is Kofi’s position;
  2. The assertion that Amb. Weah is not prepared to be president but could be a vice president didn’t make sense to me at all because the vice president could be president at any minute;
  3. That if a vice president so openly coverts the presidency then it is bad idea to make that person vice president because they could overthrow the president anytime.

On the basis of those three (3) points I thought that there was no utility in continuing the conversation.

Again, the mood remained very tense and awkward in Florida for the rest of Saturday even though the groups had dinner together and later went out to the club at Miami Beach but that was it.  While at the club, Calvin tried to see if he could talk to me and Dtweah to try to revive the talks; little did he know that I was one of the proponents that we should end it right there and then.

And that is how the Kofi and Weah discussions ended in Florida and Team Kofi left Florida on Sunday, October 17 at various times.

When Team Kofi left, Amb. Weah asked me and Dtweah to stay behind and spend an extra day with him so we changed our flight from Monday to Tuesday so that we could spend some time holding discussions we didn’t have time to do in Minnesota.

I must admit that those few hours we spend in Florida with Amb. Weah after everyone had left, in hind sight, turns out to have been the best, ever. I am serious! This doesn’t mean that we discussed the world; it means that we never ever had time to discuss anything serious again. We were either playing basketball or football and having some dinner or some other programs. It always worried me because my concern was that we were talking about the lives of 3.5 million and we can’t spend time to discuss what we will do when the Liberian people entrust us with power? Well sometimes my colleagues argued that we needed to play on the Amb.’s turf sufficiently and then when he is comfortable, he will play on ours.

While we were in Florida on that Monday, October 18, Kelvin Swebe did call and Amb. Weah asked me to speak with him. My job was to properly situate and contextualize the grassroots revolution and I did that very well. I spoke with Kelvin and we exchanged email addresses. He did pledge his support and told us to keep him abreast of developments. On October 19, I did send Kelvin an email as promised and on October 22 he replied.

So this is how the Kofi story ended but then remember that the fight with FOGOW was just about to begin. It turned out that FOGOW had secured a meeting with Amb. Weah for the weekend of October 30 in Florida. Again, Amb. Weah asked us (Dtweah and me) to join him for this meeting.

This would turn out to be an open ring fight and I did take on the group (FOGOW); holding no punches. I will go into much details in next piece. Just keep tune…

Author: JAMES F. KOLLIE

I am a Liberian professional with passion for pro poor economic development and grassroot political organizing. I have read public policy, corporate finance and accounting at various levels. I have worked in government, private sector and non-profit sector.

2 thoughts on “October 2004 – Part 2: Ending the Kofi Woods Talks and Starting the FOGOW’s Fight”

  1. Thanks Dr. Kollie, I will reserve all comments till you done with your​ full story. I believe that we need to know more on this subject.

    Like

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