Opposition reacts to President’s Annual Message
Barely minutes after President George Manneh Weah delivered his two hours address Monday, 28 January to members of the 54th Legislature on the state of the nation; four collaborating opposition political parties here brand the President’s Annual Message as a “waste of time.”
The opposition had promised to immediately and robustly respond to the President after he performed this constitutional mandate. Article 58 of the Constitution of Liberia requires the President to, on the fourth working Monday in January of each year, present the administration’s legislative program for the ensuing session and shall once a year report to the Legislature on the state of the Republic.Monday’s address was the second since President Weah assumed office on 22 January 2018.
But speaking at the headquarters of the opposition Liberty Party in Monrovia, immediately after the President’s address, the national chairman of the former ruling Unity Party Wilmot Paye says the address portrays Liberia, a country whose economy is already in free fall, as being “better”, saying “obviously, the President just does not care about how many of you sleep hungry, how many Liberians are barely surviving, and how grim the prospects are for this economy to recover in the foreseeable future.”
The four collaborating political parties include; the former ruling Unity Party, Liberty Party (LP), the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and the All Liberian Party (ALP).
“The President and his officials have destroyed whatever was left of the economy after the Ebola crisis. Yet, while you waited to hear some meaningful policy prescriptions for resuscitating the bleeding economy, he said nothing substantive to rekindle our hopes, reassure businesses, ensure investor’s confidence, and once more regain the respect of Liberia’s bilateral and multilateral partners. This is what a serious leader would do in difficult times,” Chairman Paye continues.
The opposition’s statement claims the Weah administration does not seem to have the slightest idea of what to do in order to alleviate the suffering and hardship imposed on the country in one year, which it says will only continue to intensify.
“The President’s message to the nation today was a waste of time because it failed to even hint at any concrete solution,” Paye points out.
He says the message coming from the President has heightened fears and dampened whatever tinge of hope left as Liberians waited to hear any practical policy prescriptions on how to revamp the economy, return to good governance and avert further financial disasters that still lie ahead.
“We must act with some urgency to prevent the situation from degenerating into a humanitarian catastrophe. This has validated previous doubts about his [President Weah’s] capacity to [lead]. We do not think you should continue to take him seriously at all. The President failed to assuage Liberians,” he adds.
According to the statement, President Weah and his “cronies” are celebrating while businesses are closing down, food prices are soaring and job prospects for young people leaving colleges and universities grow dimmer, gloomier and grimmer.
He argues the government announced a tuition-free policy for all public universities and colleges, but one should visit public institutions and community colleges across the country, noting there are no basic instructional materials.
He says because the administration has no moral compunction, it does not care about plight of the people, and President Weah allegedly failed disastrously to soothe a hungry population, needless to say assure or reassure Liberians.
“He presented no panacea for salvaging this economy, and gave no clear direction on where the nation is headed. Simply put, what the President just delivered is an Annual Mess-Age; it lacks substance and this is not what the Constitution prescribes,” the statement concludes.
–Editing by Jonathan Browne