Liberian President George Manneh Weah says he will not negotiate with protesters ahead of their planned December 30 assembly, saying he provided them the opportunity to sit and discuss with him their concerns the first time, but they refused to give him whatever [demands they had].
“But how will I sit with people constantly that went to a democratic process and didn’t make it, but you are agitating?” Mr. Weah told a live interview via State broadcaster ELBC on Friday, 20 December.
He granted the interview just a day after talk show host Mr. Henry P. Costa, the lead campaigner for the ‘Weah step down’ and the planned December 30, 2019 mass citizens’ assembly, landed in Monrovia from the U.S.
Thousands of citizens trooped to the Roberts International Airport (RIA) on Thursday, 19 December to receive Mr. Costa, and escorted him to the capital amidst conflicting accounts from government officials on whether or not Costa would be arrested upon arrival here.
Costa is one of the leaders of the Council of Patriots (COP) which organized the June 7, 2019 mass protest, demanding the Weah regime to address series of issues including alleged corruption, missing $16bn of local currency, and a controversial US$25m mop – up exercise carried out by the regime, among others.
However, Mr. Weah argues that he has given all the protesters here, including the COP the opportunity to sit with him and discuss but they did not present to him their concerns, saying this is not the time for him to go and stand in the streets to listen to the protesters.
He adds that he is concentrating on building the economy, and he does not have the time to waste in negotiating with protesters.
“I am not negotiating. That’s not negotiation. They had the opportunity, I was called to the Senate – for four hours I was in the Senate, the COP asked me questions, you understand?” Weah says.
He notes that as president if he gives you the courtesy, he must be respected.
Despite the continuous fall of the economy in the first two years of his regime, with constant delays in civil servants’ pay and acute shortage of local currency in the economy, Mr. Weah blames his political rivals whom he defeated at the polls in 2017 for citizens’ agitation and constant protests.
Weah argues that the person that is demanding him to step down went to the polls and could not secure 500 votes, which suggests to him that he doesn’t have the mandate of the people.
“I have the mandate of the people so no one can tell me to step down, not even the Boakai, not even the Cummings, not even the Urey, nobody,” President Weah says.
Weah won the 2017 presidential election, defeating former Vice President and ex- ruling Unity Party standard bearer Joseph NyumahBoakai, Alternative National Congress standard bearer Alexander Cummings, All Liberian Party standard bearer Benoni Urey, Liberty Party former standard bearer the late Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, among others.
Mr. Weah urges his opponents to start preparing for the next campaign, as he boasts that if he goes back to the next election which is due in 2022, he will defeat Mr. Boakai, Mr. Cummings and Mr. Urey.He says he will definitely run again, saying his people will take him because the Liberian people believe in him.By Winston W. Parley