On the eve of the June 7 anti-government protest in Monrovia, President George Manneh Weah has warned citizens in the habit of publicly insulting and ridiculing him that he will no longer tolerate their actions Speaking when he dedicated a market in the Monrovia suburb of Duport Road in Paynesville on Thursday, June 6, 2019, President Weah [said] defied such individuals to continue their attacks on him.
In a serious mood, President said:
“Those that are constantly insulting the President. I want to [make this clear]. That after this, there will be no citizen in this county. I defy you… that will be insulting the President and think you’ll walk the streets freely.” Ever since he and his ruling CDC took office some 15 months ago (January 22, 2018), the former Liberian football icon-turned politician has been at the receiving end of a barrage of sarcasm, ridicule[s] or insults publically on the Social Media and even on some local radios.
Even with his pursuit of higher education by getting Bachelor[s] and Masters degrees, some cynics [have] referred to him as “naïve, unsophisticated, uneducated, dull,” etc. Still other supporters of opposition politicians [have] accused him of “stealing the Liberian people money” amidst his massive personal construction projects and the [missing] 16 billion Liberian dollars saga.
Ordinary people have also come up with folk songs ridiculing the Liberian leader, with one of them going viral on Facebook and being aired on some of the local radio stations: “Gbyema, gbyema, gbyema Forkeklor…Gbyema, gbyema Forkeklor. This kind of stealing, we never seen it Ellen time,” says the lyrics from the latest anti Weah songs.
President Weah, apparently later realizing that he had some time ago signed the law decriminalizing speech offense, said any insults coming from any citizen against him (the President) will be dealt with in line with the law. The head of the CDC government then boasted of being the only Liberian President in the country’s 172 years of independence who has signed the law decriminalizing free speech.
Section 11.11, Criminal Libel; against the President; Section 11.12, Sedition and 11.14, Criminal Malevolence of the Penal Laws of Liberia, which tend to impede freedom of speech and expression and acts committed thereof are considered to be criminal.”
The document further said: “Therefore, the purpose of this Act is to repeal these sections of the penal laws that have the tendency of making Liberia non-compliant. In view of the above and in government’s commitment to uphold the Constitution, the declaration of Table Mountain and other international treaties related to the press and press-related activities, we request that you pass into law this legislation which will repeal these sections of our penal law that has the tendency to impede freedom of speech and expression that we have vowed to protect.
“Liberian codes revised, penal law of 1978 of the Republic of Liberia, Chapter 11, by repealing sections 11. 11, 11.12 and 11.14, to be known as the Kamara Abdullah Kamara act of Press Freedom.” However, in his June 6, 2019 statement at the opening of the Duport Road market, President Weah warned his critics that while the Liberian constitution gives them the right to freedom of speech, this right must be exercised with responsibility.
This was in an apparent reference to Article 15a of the Liberian constitution which says, “Every person shall have the right to freedom of expression, being fully responsible for the abuse thereof. This right shall not be curtailed, restricted or enjoined by government save during an emergency declared in accordance with this Constitution.”
“Our country is a country of law. People have all the rights to speak out, criticize government or anyone but that right comes with responsibility. Very soon, those who take to public platforms and go beyond the bounds of free speech and insult me and incite the public to violence will be held in consistent with the laws,” President Weah said. Urging his audience who included market women to spread the news of his defiance [to] his critics far and wide, President Weah said, “if you’re not [here], carry the news.” Story/www.nespublictrust.com/ Frank Sainworla, Jr, firstname.lastname@example.org
Main pic/George Weah/www.frontpageafrica