Liberia: Pres. Weah Announces Second Term Bid at Legislature, Calls on Citizens to Extend His Mandate


MONROVIA – In January 2010, Ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf enraged members of the 52nd Legislature and opposition at the time when she used the platform accorded her by the Constitution to address the Legislature to announce her quest to run for a second term.

Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]

The late Cllr. Charles W. Brumskine, founder of the opposition Liberty Party, criticized Madam Sirleaf for not distinguishing “her constitutional duty from a campaign affair”.

He said, “The fact that the president announced her candidacy during her deliverance of the annual message of the state of our national affair is most indicative of what’s happening in our country. When the president cannot discern her constitutional duty from a campaign affair, our country is in trouble.”

Her Press Secretary at the time, Cyrus Badio, however, argued that the President has the right to make her disclosure wherever she finds it suitable.

“…and where best to make an announcement like somewhere where the representatives of the people are based which is the joint assembly hall?” he asked.

And so was the case with President George Weah who delivered his final Annual Message for first six-year term to the joint session of the Legislature on Monday.

President Weah seized the opportunity on Monday to announce his quest to run for another term – a pronouncement that caused a moment of a stir in the chamber.

He said, “I will be coming to you shortly to ask you to renew, for a second time, the mandate that you gave me six years ago: a mandate to continue the good work we have delivered; a mandate for continuity and stability; a mandate for transformation; a mandate for development and growth; a mandate to consolidate and secure the peace, a peace that we – with your help – have perfectly preserved.

“This second mandate will enable us to consolidate the gains we have made in these last few years and ramp up the trajectory of growth, development, and prosperity for Liberia.”

And as he has often done in his past state of the nation addresses, Weah threw several jibes at his political nemesis when he said: “The naysayers and the prophets of doom are perplexed by the progress that we have made. Those who have eyes to see will bear witness to how hard we have toiled in fulfillment of the constitutional mandate that was given to us by an overwhelming majority of the Liberian people.”

The biggest achievement over the past five years, the President noted, is the consolidation of Liberia’s hard-earned peace; adding it is the ultimate goal of the country’s national undertakings.

Together, over the past five years, we have fought a good fight. Collectively, we have undeniably managed to preserve the peace of the Nation, which has become the ultimate goal of all of our national undertakings.

The opposition Unity Party and the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) which comprises the Liberty Party and the Alternative National Congress (ANC) say they’ll respond to the Annual Message today at noon.

President Weah called on citizens to join him in restoring the country to higher heights among the comity of nations.

“We will be coming to meet you in your, towns, in your villages, in your districts, in your clans, and in your cities, so that together, we can build a strong partnership for Liberia’s progress,” he said. 

Bringing Decency to the Minimum Wage

Meanwhile, President Weah during the Annual Message instructed the Minister of Finance and Development Planning to ensure that every employee of the government earns nothing below the established minimum wage.

According to Pres. Weah, his decision is background on information he received that some 15,000 government workers still earn below the minimum wage of US$150 as required by the Decent Work Act.

This is completely unacceptable. No Government worker should make below the minimum wage mandated by public law. I have therefore directed that, as part of the 2023 budget, the wages for all such workers be raised at or above the minimum wage. I am informed that the cost to achieving this is estimated at US$6 millionannually.”

The President urged the Speaker and the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate to secure the US$6 million in the 2023 Budget for the 15,000 workers. This, he said, should be one of their priorities.

Moderate Debt Risk

Shedding some light on the economic performance of his government, President Weah said the recent debt sustainability analysis by the IMF has upgraded Liberia’s debt management rating from high risk of total debt distress” to “moderate risk of total debt distress”. 

He told the joint session of the Legislature that his government remains committed in pursuing concessional financing to support our public sector investment program.

Pres. Weah: “As of November 30, 2022, the total stock of domestic debt stood at $835.2 million U.S. dollars; and the total stock of external debt stood at $1.13 billion U.S. dollars, for a total public debt stock valued at $1.96 billion U.S. dollars, which is an increase of 12.6% percent when compared to the end-December 2021 debt stock of $1.74 billion US dollars. The growth in the debt stock was mostly triggered by disbursements from external and domestic creditors.     

“The Government paid $89.37 million US dollars in debt service on both domestic and foreign debt. Of the total debt service, interest payments accounted for $33 million US dollars, or 36.9% percent, while principal repayments accounted for $56.37 million US dollars, or 63.1% percent.  Also, from the total debt service, $57.07 million US dollars was paid to the Central Bank of Liberia, to commercial banks for treasury bonds, and to other institutions for domestic debt, while $32.3 million US dollars was paid to multilateral and bilateral partners.”

He said, of the domestic payment of US$57.07 million, about US$17.8 million, or 31% percent was paid to the Central Bank of Liberia.

Promoting gender parity

President Weah has also called on the 54th Legislature to speedily pass the Gender Equity bill to boost women participation in public elected offices.

The bill, sponsored by the Women’s Legislative Caucus and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, among other things, seeks to compel political parties to include more women in key positions within their respective parties.

Currently there only 10 women lawmakers out of the 103-member 54th Legislature. Out of that number eight are in the 73-member House of Representatives and two in the Liberian Senate that comprises of 30 members in total.