By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh
Never overlook the power of protest. It is real.
People’s power is real in Liberia.
The protest you saw in Liberia on June 7 is an expression of anger and dissatisfaction with a grossly insensitive, incompetent and corrupt Liberian government that wouldn’t change course and address prevailing national issues that affect the Liberian people. The prevailing national issues that require the attention of President Weah are many: poverty and hunger, massive unemployment, massive public-sector corruption, the culture of impunity, accountability, the establishment of a war crimes court, incompetence, and developmental issues, are few of the issues that require this president’s attention.
As he has done in the past and even now, President Weah is tone death and insensitive to the concerns of the Liberian people, often ignoring those national concerns and behaving as if he’s not hearing them. Well, President George Manneh Weah got the taste of democracy when hundreds – some say, thousands of angry Liberians took to the streets in the nation’s capital on June 7, to protest his administration’s failure to move the country forward and in the right direction.
While it is true that the protesters demand the resignation of President Weah, they also demand that he curtail corruption, which has hampered growth and development, and fire the much-talked about and much-hated Samuel Tweah, Minister of Finance & Development Planning, who has been linked allegedly to the missing billions and other funds. So far, President Weah refused to fire Samuel Tweah and others in his administration and has not responded to the many calls from Liberians in and out of the country, that he do so.
Let it be known that when Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was President, in fact during her decades-plus years of leading the country, members of the current president’s CDC political party made it their duty to call her out for corruption and nepotism, and demanded that she resign. In fact, Mulba Morlu, the gadfly and a leading figure in the CDC, and Jefferson Koiyee, the babyface and neophyte city mayor of Monrovia, made their names by constantly protesting and attacking Madam Sirleaf’s policies and the massive corruption that defined the former president’s administration.
Massive public-sector corruption, President Weah’s tone deaf and reticent governing style, Weah’s own incompetence and his hiring of people who have no clue of governance and administration but are with him to steal, pile their bank accounts and have a job, are reasons enough for George Manneh Weah to find another line of work instead of the Liberian presidency. I want President Weah to resign because he is weak and is leading from behind, and is not listening to the Liberian people.
My only problem with a possible Weah resignation is not having a credible, compassionate and hardworking leader, a competent replacement, a non-killer who is uncorrupt and ready to work on day 1, on behalf of the Liberian people. It should be noted that some of the key figures and organizers of the ‘Save the State’ Council of Patriots’ protest rally are not choir boys, either, but former members and officers of the disgraced Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia, a group that waged the Liberian civil war and murdered hundreds of thousands innocent Liberians.
So, do I support unrepentant killers to take over from George Weah?
The young people who showed up in the streets of Monrovia today are ordinary Liberian citizens who are unemployed and hungry and are screaming and shouting their hearts out to their government in a desperate attempt to be heard. These are the same young people who in 2018 voted overwhelmingly for George Manneh Weah to be President of Liberia over other competent candidates, because of his football exploits.
These are the same young people who saw Mr. Weah as the “Country Giant.” Even though then-candidate Weah never had a debate with any of his opponents during the presidential campaign to know his local and world views of the issues, and he never held a press conference, and never put forward his governing platform and ideas, Liberians foolishly voted for George Manneh Weah.
Now, see what you got.
Mr. Weah, like his predecessor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf came to power with enormous support from a population that craves a compassionate and sensitive leader who feels their pains and aspirations. President Weah, unfortunately, blew that popular support and caved to satisfy the greedy, pretentious and unpatriotic wishes of his criminal friends and partisans who never got in government for public service but to pillage the nation’s coffers at the detriment of the poor. George Manneh Weah cannot market himself anymore as a popular President, because his image – a political marketing ploy as “one of them” has been shredded into pieces as fraudulent, and his Congress for Democratic Change political party cannot continue to hide behind vile threats, hooliganism, and violence to suppress the legitimate grievances of the Liberian people, either.
The protesters spoke.
The Liberian people spoke!
Sungbeh can be contacted at—email@example.com.
Main pic/June 7th protesters gathers on Capitol Hill Monrovia, the seat of government. picture/www.reuters