George Weah Pulls Out Of Political Debate, Disappoints Thousands of Liberians


By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
November 2, 2005


The much awaited and final round of a live presidential debate between the two frontrunners in the first round of Liberia’s post-war elections, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Sports Ambassador George We has been abruptly put off by the organizers –the International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) owing to the inability of Amb. Weah to live up to his commitment to show up for the intellectual thought provocative political showdown.

Madam Sirleaf is a veteran Liberian politician, a Harvard trained economist, with national and international contacts, is the touch-bearer of the Unity Party (UP), while Ambassador Weah is a former international football legend, a high school dropout with several sporting awards. He is the flag-bearer of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC).

The live presidential debate which was scheduled to be held tomorrow, November 3rd at the Continental Pavilion in Monrovia would not take place due to the last minute notice that the CDC presidential and vice presidential candidates will not show up for the debate, thus disappointing thousands of Liberians.

According to IRI and NDI representatives who spoke on UNMIL run 91.5 FM this week, the presidential debate would have provided the candidates the opportunity to reach out to thousands of Liberians across the country where they cannot afford to reach.

Accordingly, both candidates were to 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 candidates the opportunity to propound on their respective views. The debate took a dramatic trend, with some of the candidates attacking personality instead of discussing the issues.

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 while at the same time, Weah and Sirleaf were to quiz each other during the debate.

In addition, the vice presidential candidates of the CDC and UP, Dr. Rudolph Johnson and Ambassor Joseph Boakai were also to be allowed to participate in the intellectual forum and respond to questions from the audience. The debate was to be broadcast on various radio stations in Monrovia and relayed by community radio stations across the country.

But political observers believe that the debate was a showing of unmatched peers, therefore the CDC candidate choose to withdraw from the debate, to avoid Madam Sirleaf from intellectually, political and academically destroying Mr. Weah.

Others hail Mr. Weah for escaping from the debate since he is no peer to Madam Sirleaf who is politically and academically equipped.