Liberian President George Weah made the announcement that he would be seeking re-election for a second term. Weah, who assumed office in 2018, made the announcement in Liberia’s parliament on Monday, January 30th while giving the State of the Nation address.
“I will be coming to you shortly to ask you to renew, for a second time, the mandate that you gave me six years ago: a mandate to continue the good work we have delivered; a mandate for continuity and stability; a mandate for transformation; a mandate for development and growth; a mandate to consolidate and secure the peace, a peace that we – with your help – have perfectly preserved,” he said. We will be coming to meet you in your, towns, in your villages, in your districts, in your clans, and in your cities, so that together, we can build a strong partnership for Liberia’s progress.
Weah became president after winning Liberia’s October 2017 election by riding a wave of popularity with the youth and poor of the country. He promised to combat the scourge of corruption that affected the country under the presidency of former leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. However, accusations and acts of corruption within the presidency are still rife.
In 2018, Liberia lost $100 million in freshly printed banknotes. Three of Weah’s close allies, including his chief of staff, have been accused of benefitting from public funds, with allegations of their involvement in multi-million dollar contracts and the diversion of about $1.5 million. President Weah’s allies had sanctions imposed against them by the U.S. They have since resigned from their posts.
Weah has also faced accusations of being distant from the experience and life of the average Liberian. He was criticized for being out of the country last year, spending time at various international political meetings, and watching his son Timothy represent the U.S. at the World Cup in Qatar. Liberians on social media questioned how their president could be in Qatar enjoying himself while the country was in the state it was in.
Joseph Boakai, Liberia’s former vice president and Unity Party member, said the country is running “on autopilot.” In regards to the current state of the country, he said, “We continue to witness other acts of poor leadership, irresponsible behavior, lack of concern, impunity, and wanton misuse of our finances.”
Liberia, The Nation
Liberia has experienced consecutive civil wars between 1989 and 2003, leading to close to 250,000 deaths. The country has suffered through an Ebola pandemic. According to the World Bank, it is one of the poorest countries in the world, with nearly 50% of the population living on less than $1.90, a situation exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine war.
Weah, who rose to the top of his sport as a mercurial footballer, chose to speak positively about the state of the nation. “Let me assure you that the state of our nation is strong. The state of our nation is stable… The state of our nation is peaceful and secure. We intend to keep it this way,” as he promised a mandate of opportunity, development, and transformation.