George Weah Faces Ellen Johnson Sirleaf In a Live Presidential Debate


By: Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
October 25, 2005


The two frontrunners in the first round of Liberia’s post-war elections will come face to face in a live presidential debate in the lead-up to the run-off on November 8. The debate is scheduled to be held on November 3rd at the Continental Pavilion in Monrovia.

A former football star, George Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and a one time World Bank official and veteran politician, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of the Unity Party (UP), will engage each other during the intellectual thought provocative political showdown. Both candidates will expound on the topic: “Beyond the Rhetoric - The Most United Liberia.”

Similar exercise was held in September, at which time only 11 out of the 22 presidential candidates attended. That debate came under criticism for the manner in which it was conducted. Political pundits said the time allotted to each of the discussants was inadequate to afford the candidate the opportunity to propound on his or her view. The debate took a dramatic trend, with some of the candidates attacking personality instead of discussing the issues.

Unlike the previous debate, the organizers of November’s debate disclosed that all necessary measures have been put in place to ensure that everything is in order this time around.

They told UNMIL radio recently that the candidates have agreed in advance to stick to the issues rather than attacking personality.

According to the organizers, the public will be given the opportunity to interact with the candidates by quizzing them on issues relating to the topic and their platforms. At the same time, Weah and Sirleaf will quiz each other during the debate.

In addition, the vice presidential candidates of the CDC and UP, Mr. Rudolph Johnson and Dr. Joseph Boakai will also be allowed to participate in the intellectual forum and respond to questions from the audience.

The debate will be broadcast on various radio stations in Monrovia and relayed by community radio stations across the country.

Madame Sirleaf is a World Bank and Harvard trained Economist while, Ambassador Weah has admitted that he is a high school drop out.

Political observers believe that the debate is a showing of unmatched peers and Mr. Weah may as well decide to find an excuse to not attend. They noted that with the splendid showing of Madame Sirleaf in the first debate it was unlikely that Mr. Weah will want to face her.