Liberia’s President George Manneh Weah says his government can do better when there exist unity and cooperation among the branches of government backed by unity among citizens, while pleading with the citizenry that it is time to put aside political differences and work together.
“The people expect better cooperation and action from their government. We can do better together,” the former Liberian international soccer legend – turned politician said Monday afternoon, 22 January, minutes after taking the oath of office as Liberia’s 24th elected president at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville.
President Weah says the inaugural gathering also celebrates an important precedent that Liberians can and will rely on established institutions and the rule of law to resolve their political disagreements.
He succeeds Africa’s first female elected President Mrs. Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf, who ended her two six years terms Monday following a historic smooth transition of power between civilian authorities for the first time in 73 years.
He says his inauguration is not just a transition between two democratic governments, but a transition from one generation to another, noting that it is indeed a confirmation that democracy exists in Liberia and it is here to stay.
Mr. Weah won a December 2017 runoff election against former ruling Unity Party’s candidate Joseph Nyumah Boakai on a coalition ticket comprising of his own Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), his Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor’s National Patriotic Party (NPP) which once ruled Liberia under imprisoned former President Charles Taylor, and former Speaker Alex Tyler’s Liberian People Democratic Party (LPDP).
“We have arrived at this transition neither by violence nor by force of arms; not a single life was lost in the process. Blood should never be the price tag for democracy,” Mr. Weah warns. He says the transition was achieved by the free and democratic will of the Liberian people, guaranteed by the rule of law.
The President promises to do all in his power to be the agent of positive change, but he says he will not do it alone. He calls on the Legislature to work with him and create and pass essential laws that are needed to complete the foundation of this nation.
He also promises to deliver on the popular mandate of Liberians to end corruption, warning those who corrupt government resources that they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. He vows to ensure that public resources do not end up in the pockets of officials.
Former President Sirleaf and her former Vice President Boakai and outgoing cabinet members graced the event. A number of former and current African heads of state including Ghana’s Nana Akufo Addo, Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma, Guinea’s Alpha Conde, Burkina Fasso’s Roch Kabore, Mali’s Ibrahim Keita and several other dignitaries, movie and soccer stars attended the inauguration witnessed by tens of thousands Liberians.
In a show of gratitude to his immediate predecessor Mrs. Sirleaf, Mr. Weah thanked the outgoing President for laying the foundation upon which he can now stand in peace and for the advancement of the country, having led a government elected in 2006 after Liberia’s civil crisis.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah