By Bill W. Cooper
Liberia’s outgoing President, George Weah, has finally opened up about the challenges experienced during his presidency over the period of six years.
While preaching during his church service at his Forkay Klon Jlaleh Family Church in Paynesville on Sunday, President Weah passionately declared, “Had I agreed to do what others wanted, we would not be here today.”
The Liberian leader’s presidency, which began in 2018 with widespread optimism and hopes for change, has been marked by numerous hurdles and obstacles, as during his first few months in office, his focus was squarely on addressing the country’s road challenges.
Weah, during his six-year tenure, also failed to address the issues of the country’s economic disparities, boosting education, health, agriculture sectors, and improving infrastructure, political friction, and external pressures to cloud his administration.
Delivering what many termed as his farewell message to his congregation, the President reflected on the difficulties he encountered when attempting to implement his policy – the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).
During his explanation, President Weah acknowledged the intense pressure from various interest groups to conform and compromise his vision, stating firmly, “I was elected to lead this nation based on my promises and aspirations, and I stood by them.”
“I could not simply yield to demands that would have undermined the progress we made, but now that the elections are over and in a free, fair, transparent, and peaceful manner, all I can say is that Liberia wins,” he said.
Liberia has long struggled with high unemployment rates and a stagnant economy, but the President, during his campaign, assured his supporters of his plans to attract foreign investment and promote entrepreneurship.
Weah, who persistently pushed for reforms, including streamlining bureaucracy and promoting transparency, furthered that all of these efforts were met with resistance from those benefiting from the existing system.
According to him, vested interests and competing priorities further hindered the implementation of his plans, noting that he fought against these obstacles, acknowledging that true progress required making difficult decisions and facing criticisms.
Weah explained that during his administration, he embarked on ambitious projects to address the major issues facing the country, thus promoting public-private partnerships and seeking international support.
Nevertheless, he maintained that the roadblocks he encountered in securing funding and overcoming bureaucracy slowed down the progress, frustrating both the administration and the public.
As Weah reflects on his presidency, he assured that he remains proud of the achievements his government made, despite the challenges, coupled with the mis and disinformation from the opposition community and some Liberian Journalists.
He said, “I entered politics to bring change and uplift the lives of Liberian citizens. I embraced the responsibilities of leadership, making decisions that I felt were in the best interest of this nation.”
“Despite my defeat in these elections, I remain optimistic about Liberia’s future. I believe that my tenure has laid the foundation for continued progress in crucial sectors, and I hope that my successor will build upon these achievements,” he added.
Weah asserted, “As we conclude this chapter in Liberian history, it is important to acknowledge the complexities of leadership and decision-making, and as an opposition, I will embark on a journey to hold the feet of the government to the fire after its first term of office.”
“I will critique the Boakai-Koung administration and ensure all that was promised be done, and that the lives of the Liberian people are well taken care of, infrastructure improved, and the country’s peace protected and safeguarded,” he alluded.
However, information reaching this paper said the CDC has filed a complaint to the NEC magistrates in Nimba, accusing the Commission of ballots stuffing coupled with the huge number of citizens’ votes, something which they said pass the total registered voters in that area.
Consistent with Article 83(c) of the Liberian Constitution, the NEC has 30 days to investigate and render a decision in this matter.
Even though, the NEC Chairperson failed to give further detail surrounding the complaint at her last press briefing yesterday, information gathered by this paper is that the aggrieved party is calling for a total re-run of another 25 precincts in the county for frauds and irregularities.
The NEC boss also disclosed that the re-run in Polling Place 4, Nimba County District 4, was held successfully held on Sunday, November 18, reporting that UP got 54 votes while the CDC got 4 of the total votes cast and tallied.