MONROVIA – Smart News Liberia (SNL) is receiving reports that Liberia’s all-time highest goal scorer and most celebrated footballer, James Salinsa Debbah, a fierce critic of President George Weah, has endorsed the Liberian leader’s re-election bid.
Efforts to contact Debbah proved abortive, but the ruling party’s National Campaign Spokesperson, Cllr. Kanio Bai Gbala, has disclosed that he has received information that Debbah has joined the camp of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), to vote Weah into office for a second term.
SNL has confirmed that the profile cover to Debbah’s official Facebook page was recently changed to a photograph depicting the number 18, the assigned number to Weah and the CDC on the ballot paper for the 10 October 2023 presidential election.
Like many supporters of President Weah and the CDC, a prodigy of the Liberian leader and a fanatic of the ruling party, Siokin Civicus Barsi-Giah, who is the current Manager of the Port of the city of Buchanan, in Grand Bassa County, took to Facebook today congratulating Debbah, a citizen of Grand Bassa, onboard the campaign bandwagon of the governing CDC.
“So we have the two best soccer players to ever embrace soccer in Liberia on 18th street,” Civicus wrote of James Debbah and Weah, two of Liberia’s all-time soccer greats, with the former going on to win World Best, Africa Best and Europe Best footballer awards.
Civicus further wrote: “Thanks for joining the team, cousin Jimmy… (as James Salinsa Debbah is also called).
Another supporter of Weah and a staunch partisan of the Congress for Democratic Change, former Superintendent of Grand Bassa County, now a Senatorial candidate for the CDC in Grand Bassa, Janjay Baikpeh, also via Facebook, disclosed that Debbah has endorsed Weah’s candidature for reelection.
Baikpeh credited CDC National Campaign Manager, Eugene Len Nagbe, for Debbah’s reported decision to endorse Weah’s reelection bid.
Until the news suggesting that he has allegedly endorsed Weah’s reelection bid broke, Debbah along with several other former players of the senior men’s national soccer team of Liberia were opposed to the former World Best footballer’s ascendency to the presidency of the country.
Debbah and the other retired soccer stars campaigned against Weah’s first attempt at the presidency in 2005 and did likewise during the elections that brought the former wizard dribbler to state power in 2017.
Following the elections in 2017, Debbah became a fierce critic of Weah and his administration, and on several occasions lambasted the President over various policy issues including one occasion in 2021, when he questioned the regime over budgetary allotment made to the office of the Liberian leader’s wife, First Lady Clar Weah, according to him, as exceeding the allotment made in the National Budget that year for all public schools under the supervision of the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS).
Two years into Weah’s administration following his inauguration in January of 2018, Debbah, it is recalled, warned Weah that although time was running out for the Liberian leader, he (Debbah) was of the belief that the President still had time in his favor to make amends, with the people of Liberia, who Debbah inferred Weah was disappointing with his leadership style.
At the time, Debbah informed Weah to quit what he referred to as all of the “bullshit” including going to studio to release songs, as well as refrain from preaching at his Forky Klon Jlaleh Family Fellowship Church, and pay more attention to the basic necessities of Liberians.
Although there has been a longstanding feud between Debbah and Weah, dating far back as their heydays as soccer players, multiple political pundits have told SNL that judging from recent developments within the opposition bloc where the former Lone Star coach and most celebrated soccer star has been a formidable figure, news of Debbah’s support to Weah has not come as a surprise.
While Liberins were celebrating Independence Day this year, Debbah took to Facebook to vent out his frustration over the seemingly unending inner wrangling within the opposition bloc, even throwing a jibe at the leader of the main opposition Unity Party, former VP Joseph N. Boakai.
Debbah recalling his political sojourn retrospected the days he walked side by side with Liberty Party’s founding political leader, the late Charles Brumskine, who the ex-soccer star referred to as his mentor and political leader for 18 years.
He divulged that during those 18 years, as a certified opposition figure, he was jeered and chastised but he stood by his convictions.
Howbeit, Debbah pointed out that the dismantling of the four-party Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), which had a constituent political parties membership that included the Unity Party, All Liberia Party (ALP), Liberty Party (LP), and the Alternative National Congress (ANC), is shameful.
“The CPP has dismantled. The Liberty Party is in disarray, it has become factional! Our so-called leaders that were once within the power structure of the deposed CPP have separated and battling for supremacy…what a shame!” Debbah wrote.
He then threw a jibe at the former ruling Unity Party and its “Rescue Mission”, wondering, “How do you propose to rescue a nation of 5 million+ people when you could not resolve a minor conflict from within???”
He referred to Bokai and his Unity Party’s “Rescue Mission” as a deception and a tragedy, which he claims is of a gigantic proportion to him and others who once believed in leaders of the opposition bloc.
“I am flabbergasted! This is the”end of the road” for me. I am throwing in the towel,” Debbah concluded, over this decision which SNL has confirmed the ex-soccer star has stated he’s unswerving, resolute, and resolved about.