President George Manneh Weah has reacted to criticisms against his recent address at the 74th UN General Assembly in New York, saying he doesn’t understand what his critics want.“I just stated I don’t understand what y’all want. Since we came to power I have not one day called for war crimes court. You the journalists called for war crimes court; Liberians are calling for war crimes court. Both the victims and perpetrators are calling for war crimes court,” he told reporters Tuesday, 1 October at the Roberts International Airport.
“What I did is to explain to them, why now? So if you don’t understand my English then you need to go back to the speech and then read it well,” he said further during the interview upon his return from the UN General Assembly.His comments are in reaction to criticisms here that President Weah missed the opportunity to push Liberia’s case at the UN, as his critics frown against his suggestions that those who lost the election are seeking to get to power through undemocratic means.
While addressing the UN, President Weah said “we are at a loss to understand why the clamor for the establishment of the Court is now being made, almost a full decade after it was first called for, and during which time no such pressure was brought to bear on the government that grew out of the Accra Peace Accord.”He told the UN that “we are beginning to witness the emergence of a creeping threat to our democratic space,” and to the hard-won peace and stability.
President Weah accused some individuals within and out of Liberia, “particularly those who have lost democratically-held elections” of resorting to incitement, threats of violence, misuse of social media, and hate speech, with the aim and objective of achieving power through undemocratic means.Among many reasons for past protests here under President Weah’s administration is a call to establish war and economic crimes court and the need to fight corruption, among others.
President Weah’s ruling – Congress for Democratic Change, which is part of the ruling coalition, along with its current chair Mulbah Morlu demanded the establishment of the war crimes court during the regime of former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf.
But as a ruling party the CDC and its political leader, President Weah continue to show their opposition against the court, as the president is heard in this latest interview.
Over 250,000 Liberians are reported to have died and properties worth millions of dollars estimated to have been destroyed during the civil crisis here.
President Weah got the backing of Nimba County Sen. Prince Yormie Johnson in 2017 to win the presidency.Johnson is a former rebel general who led the independent national patriotic front of Liberia (INPFL), and he faces accusation over the brutal murder of then sitting president Samuel Doe.
“You calling for war crimes court, I say why this time when we have [an] economic issue, we’re trying to develop our country? Why focus on the war crimes court now? Why you did not focus on it 12 years ago?” President Weah wonders.
President Weah indicates that those people that were part of the entire process of what happened to Liberians “led the 12 years.”
“So why now? Is that what you want? Okay then we sent it to the Legislature so Liberians can talk about it. I want to give you an opportunity to talk about it instead of everyday disturbing the peace of this country,” he notes.
He says he does not know why people have mix feeling when he informed the UN about what is unfolding on the ground.
“I don’t think any Liberian should have mix feeling when I’m asking UN that we have [an] economic issues to see how they can help us. Because I remember couple of years back, I was one of those that went to … went with the government to go for debt relief, there was no mix feeling. So I don’t know why people will have mix feeling,” he notes.
“Of course we spoke to our partners, some of the issues we’re having here, what we try to put in place, we asked them to join us to do it. You know Liberia has a history of going to the UN, to the international community to help us. This is not the first time,” he adds.
President Weah argues that “we rely on donors because we don’t have the capability and we don’t have the strength.”“Instead of galvanizing ourselves we believe that of course the international community can do everything for us, so the leaders have to go and let them know that we have to (enable us) work together,” he concludes.By Winston W. Parley