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Is Weah’s rating falling?

Ex-president George Manneh Weah appears to be losing his once strong popularity with Liberians, especially youth, as his return to Liberia on Tuesday, 27 February was greeted by low-key reception.

Mr. Weah and his entourage arrived here, accompanied by few loyalists without visible presence of key executives of his former ruling Congress for Democratic Change.

By Kruah Thompson 

Monrovia, Liberia, February 28, 2024 – The once-mighty popularity of former President George Weah appears to have experienced a significant decline in recent weeks following his departure from office.

Formerly hailed for drawing massive crowds during his return from foreign trips, marked by enthusiastic supporters dressed in red and jubilant celebrations, Weah’s latest return to the country Tuesday saw only a subdued gathering of individuals, dressed in ordinary attire.

The no doubt once famous former President George Tawlon Oppong Ousman Manneh Weah and his wife, former First Lady Clar Weah, left Liberia for France shortly after the inauguration of President Joseph N. Boakai to accept a prestigious peace award.

During his departure, he was accompanied to the airport by several former government officials, including former Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean, former Commerce Minister Mawine Diggs, former City Mayor Jefferson Tamba Koijee, and former Deputy Public Works Minister Joseph P. Todd, among other Liberians who had gone to see him take-off.  

However, his return on Tuesday, February 22, 2023, at the Roberts International Airport saw a dwindling turnout, signaling a notable shift in the former president’s popularity.

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While Weah, who conceded defeat to former Vice President Joseph Boakai after the November 14 runoff election, stated that he had returned to engage in party work and critique the Boakai Government, there appears to be internal strife within his former ruling Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) since voters denied the CDC a second term.

On the day of the former president’s return, CDC party Chairman Mulbah K. Morlu, Jr. tendered his resignation letter, citing challenges faced during Weah’s administration. He disclosed encountering constraints that limited his ability to carry out his responsibilities fully.

During President Weah’s six-year tenure, disputes between the Standard Bearer and the former chairman have been recurrent. In a statement on Tuesday, December 10, 2019, Mr. Morlu criticized Weah’s appointments as “underachievers” that would eventually undermine his administration.

While the Ex-president and the former chairman had been in verbal battles despite belonging to the same party, some members of the CDC party suggested removing him for openly criticizing his administration.

However, ex-Representative Moses Gray stood by Morlu at the time, affirming that his tenure would end successfully without resorting to undemocratic means.

Nevertheless, Morlu’s resignation letter came as a shock to many Liberians, after holding on for six years despite numerous disputes with the Standard Bearer.

While Mr. Weah, a former footballer-turned politician, who served as the 25th President of Liberia from 2018 to 2024, has not responded to the resignation letter of Chairman Morlu, questions linger about the sustained legacy of his presidency and the future of the CDC in Liberia’s evolving political landscape.

Before his election in 2017, Mr. Weah served as Senator for Montserrado County and also enjoyed a prolific 18-year professional football career as a striker, ending in 2003. He remains the first African former footballer to become a head of state.

Meanwhile, for Weah, once celebrated as the pride of Liberia, the current shift in public sentiment marks a notable turn in his political journey. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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