George Weah’s Bid for Liberia Presidency Sparks Debates in Monrovia




By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

November 22, 2004

The Liberian Sports Ambassador and former soccer player George Oppong Weah has finally declared his intention to bid for the presidency of Liberia in 2005. His declaration has sparked public debates across various segments of the Liberian capital and its surroundings. Mr. Weah is currently a UNICEF-Goodwill Ambassador. George Weah’s candidacy brings close to 43, the number of persons who have so far declared their intentions to vie for the presidency during the general and presidential elections scheduled for October 2005.

Over the past few weeks there have been speculations about Weah’s ambition to rule the country, but on several occasions, he categorically denied having any interest in contesting the office on grounds that he is a footballer and not a politician or political figure.

Former President Charles Taylor, on numeral occasions, accused Mr. Weah of undermining his administration because he was eyeing the highest office of the land, but several persons dismissed Mr. Taylor’s assertion at that time, concluding that he Mr. Taylor just wanted to get rid of Mr. Weah. Amidst all the massive speculations, however, Mr. Weah finally declared his intention on the international wire while visiting Europe where he had gone to receive an award for his humanitarian contributions to Liberia.

Among other things, Mr. Weah said that the old politicians had failed the Liberian people, adding that said politicians never had “common love” for the Liberian people. Mr. Weah further added that he was going in the race to build institutions, serve his people with love and compassion as a true son of the land. Mr. Weah boasted to be called “President” which in clearly indicates that he is convinced that victory is his comer 2005-general elections. Ambassador Weah said that upon his election, he would hire the services of people of political background to work for him in the process of national development.

Mr. Weah’s pronouncement sparked debates in the city as to his qualification and expertise in the area of handling the nation. The argument concerning Weah’s presidency has divided the city into two schools of thought with one group in support of his declaration, while other believe that Mr. Weah is not a political material and therefore dismiss his ambitions.

Majority of the youth who are potential voters see Mr. Weah as the best choice for the presidency. Ironically, these are the youth groups that danced in the streets of Monrovia in support of Charles Taylor chanting: “You Kill My Ma, You Kill My Pa, I Will Vote For You” during the 1997 Special Elections. Despite the fact that they supported Charles Taylor who started the war that killed about ten percent of the Liberian population, the youth are arguing that Mr. Weah is the only person among all those contesting presidency who is corruption free, and never contributed to the destruction of Liberia. They also opine that Mr. Weah has the financial capacity to jump-start the economy if he is victorious.

But for those who opposed to Mr. Weah’s declaration were quick to identify his shortcomings, insisting that he cannot make a good president – pointing to his failure to take the nation to the World-Cup during his tenure as a technical director for the Lone Star. Others argue that Weah only bankrolled the team during the war because he was playing on it. They argue that if Mr. Weah is so generous, why is he not still bankrolling the national team?

Other areas of Mr. Weah’s weaknesses, according to his critics, include lack of managerial skills coupled with uncontrollable temple in handling issues as well as a lack requisite education. His critics further accused him of having bad moral values in dealing with his colleagues, using his leadership as captain and technical director for the national team as an example. Some even point to his alleged arrogance besides being a political neophyte as reason why they don’t want him to become president. There are others who feel that the warring factions want to use Mr. Weah to perpetuate themselves in power – using the alleged presence of members of warring factions in leadership positions in Mr. Weah’s organization as example.

Some of his critics are encouraging him to run for either minister of Youth and Sports or president of the Liberian football organization - the Liberian Football Association (LFA). His critics want him concentrate on the sports instead of going into politics.

Mr. Weah is expected to return home on Wednesday, November 24, 2004 and is expeected to receive a red ccarpet welcome from his supporters.