spot_imgspot_img
Tuesday, April 16, 2024

PRESIDENT WEAH – “OURS IS AN OPEN AND LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM”

Date:

Part II of Series On President Weah’s Recent International Tour

An opinion by Arthur T. Y. Douglas, Jr.

President George Manneh Weah’s return home on Monday, December 19, 2022, after holding a series of fruitful engagements abroad, was epic. From the Roberts International Airport (RIA) to the Dominium Christian Fellowship Church where a Thanksgiving Service of his return was held, and then to the CDC Party Headquarters, mammoth crowds gathered all along the way.

Citizens’ cheers and vocations welcoming the President, a show of great delight for his safe return home, were rapturous and electrifying. The atmosphere was emotionally and politically charged, apparently sending shockwaves down the spine of the opposition block.

The crowd-show may have well been a caveat to those who perceive that the President’s popularity among the Liberian people as drastically diminishing. Clearly they have to rethink.

The Liberian leader’s arrival was also intriguingly timely for another reason: it was on the heels of a poorly attended opposition-led protest dubbed: “We Tiya Suffering,” and a long-running debate criticizing his administration’s stewardship of the country. They were contending that the Weah-led government was responsible for hardship in the country. Others criticized the President’s travel as unnecessary while a few others said he was doing little or nothing to address the dire needs of the Liberian people. All these culminated into the December 17, 2022 “We Tiya suffering” rally at the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville which independent analysts believe was poorly attended largely because of its unpopularity.

Amid all the political chicaneries employed by the opposition politicians, President Weah returned to the country in triumphant style well-prepared to face his critics head-on. Dressed in a white pro-poor suit, the President downplayed his usual media engagement upon arrival, and reserved comments for the thanksgiving service.

Following the usual thanksgiving formalities at the church, President Weah took to the podium, expressing heartfelt gratitude to God for his safe return along with all who had joined in to welcome him and the team that comprised Justice Minister Cllr. Musa Dean and Vice President Chief Dr. Jewel Howard-Taylor left in charge to coordinate the national state of affairs.

In for statement, the President said: “Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: The laws of Liberia do not provide for an Acting President. Although I may have been physically absent, the Office of the President of the Republic of Liberia was very present and active, and was in daily and frequent contact with me for my leadership and guidance,” President Weah declared unequivocally, checkmating his critics. President Weah said dismissing and appointing of some government officials, and the signing of Bills into law among others, despite being out of the country, showed that “the Government of Liberia was running, and matters of national interest were handled expeditiously.”

 

However, as he proceeded to report to the Liberian people about his trip abroad and then join in the debate, President Weah cynically thanked his critics, acknowledging that it was their right to express their thoughts freely as guaranteed under the constitution of Liberia which he is under oath to defend and uphold.

He said: “Ours is an open and liberal democratic system, in which those of us who govern are answerable to the governed for our stewardship… I am equally under obligation to acknowledge the rights of those who questioned the time we spent out of the country, and at the same time, thank those who supported the tour.”

This indeed was a clear demonstration of President Weah’s unwavering commitment to key democratic principles – accountability and freedom of speech and expression. Under Liberia’s erstwhile regimes and elsewhere on the continent, freedom and the right to criticize an incumbent is a luxury but President Weah continues to demonstrate ultra-tolerance to dissent, including vituperations.  But gone are the days of tyranny in the country, as the current head of state sets a high bar for future Liberian presidents in terms of political inclusion and open-mindedness.

Even though he didn’t agree with his critics in terms of the sincerity and veracity of the discourses and claims spewed in his absence, President Weah welcomed their views on grounds that such was the dictates of a democratic society in which we live.

Humanly speaking, the president may have been so unhappy on grounds that the opposition politicians’ claims were perhaps riddled with deception. Better still, he could have chosen to ignore the debate to avoid dignifying critics. The president could have even employed other means of responding to his opponents. Yet, President Weah chose to honor his obligation of being answerable to the people. This is called “government accountability”, to quote him directly.

According to the US State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP), Freedom of speech and expression, especially about political and other public issues, is the lifeblood of any democracy.”

The Bureau of International Information Programs further observes that “democracies are usually filled with many voices expressing different or even contrary ideas and opinions.” Also on its website, www.principlesofdemocracy.org, the Bureau of International Information program defines government accountability as public officials being obligated to explain their decisions and actions to the citizens.”

In effect, the posture of the president signifies that his deliberations and commitments at the just-ended December 13 – 15, 2022 US-African Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC were not mere rhetoric but an integral tendency of his administration.

It can be recalled that at that summit, President Weah bragged about Liberia’s fledgling democracy. Being among a ‘selected few’ of six (6) out of 49 African Heads of State invited for a special meeting with US President Joe Biden at the White House, President Weah actively participated in discussions surrounding the very crucial issues including elections and democracy.

The President is on record for pledging to the international community in the United States, asserting, “We made it abundantly clear that under our watch, the democratic credentials of Liberia will be safeguarded, as well as its peace, stability, and security.”

Back home, days after the summit, President Weah is practically matching deeds with words. He is talking the talk and walking the walk!

With the 2023 elections at hand, demonstrating such political will in principle and in practice matters greatly. Upholding freedoms of speech and expression as well as government accountability is the way to go if Liberia’s democratic credentials must be safeguarded!

smartnews
Smart News Liberia is an online news outlet, a product of Smart Media Group Inc. smartnewsliberia.com publishes a wide range of content including politics, business, sports, and entertainment on and about Liberia. Contact: +231777425285/ 886946925 Email: info@smartnewsliberia.com/ smartnewsliberia@gmail.com

Share post:

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

THE GALLERY

spot_imgspot_img

ADVERTISEMENT

spot_imgspot_img

MORE NEWS

WORLD SPORTS
Related

IVORY COAST RELIEF AFTER WINNING CUP OF NATIONS

ABIDJAN, (REUTERS) - Ivory Coast’s success at the Africa...

NBA ROUNDUP: DOMANTAS SABONIS CARRIES KINGS PAST NUGGETS

Domantas Sabonis had 17 points, 17 rebounds and 10...

ARGENTINA AND BRAZIL PUNISHED BY FIFA FOR FAN DISORDER IN 2026 WORLD CUP QUALIFIER AT THE MARACANA

Lionel Messi will play in front of a half-empty...
Share via
Copy link