Liberia’s Opposition Political Parties React to Pres. Weah’s State of the Nation Address
MONROVIA – Shortly after President George Weah’s two-hour long State of the Republic Address, leaders of political opposition parties, in unison gathered at headquarters of the Liberty Party where they jointly expressed disappointment in the President’s message.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
To them, the failure of the President to address some pertinent issues unfolding in the country in his Annual Message rendered entire address useless as they described it as a “Mess-Age”.
The opposition political represented include the Liberty Party (LP), the Alternative National Congress (ANC), the Unity Party (UP) and the All Liberian Party (ALP).
“…He failed disastrously to soothe a hungry population, needless to say assure or reassure you. 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,” said Mr. Wilmot Paye, Chairman of the Unity Party who read the statement on behalf of the group.
Liberians Still Spectators
The leaders of the opposition political parties lamented that contrary to Pres. Weah’s promise during his January 22, 2018 Inaugural Speech that Liberians would not be spectators in their own economy, the situation has turned out to be that Liberians now bystanders in their economy.
They accused the President of surrounding himself with a handful of foreign cronies who are the main actors and players in the Liberian economy. They further alleged that “And even more appalling is that some of his foreign “business” partners have horrible criminal past in their countries.”
They claimed that there is a spillover of corruption in the Weah-led government but the Annual Message failed to provide what steps are being taken or going to be instituted to curb the corruption menace. This, by their view is compounding the culture of impunity which has been an age-old hindrance to the development of Liberia.
“Governance is characterized by skullduggery, bigotry, hypocrisy, falsehood, abuse and misuse of public office and power. Violation of the Constitution and laws of Liberia has become commonplace and is pervasive throughout the administration. The president and his officials are above reproach, violating laws and tearing down systems and procedures with impunity,” Paye read on behalf of his colleagues.
Liberia’s economy isn’t getting any better, they said, contrary positive image Pres. Weah portrayed of the economy in his Address. They said it was unfair for the President to describe the economy as better without taking into consideration the increasing number of Liberians who are still going to bed hungry.
“Obviously, he 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,” Paye stated.
He added that a responsible government would have provided meaningful policy prescription that would salvage the ailing economy and rekindle the hopes of Liberians, businesses and ensure investors’ confidence.
The opposition bloc expressed fear that the economy may deteriorate further if no such policy for the fixing of the economy is provided by the administration.
Paye: “Our economy is declining exponentially. It is time to act. Otherwise, Liberia could be doomed forever. Today’s message has heightened fears and dampened whatever tinge of hope was left as you waited to hear any practical policy prescriptions on how to revamp the economic, 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 capacity to. We do not think you should continue to take him seriously at all. The president failed to assuage Liberians.”
The opposition leaders demanded answers to how US$17 million was infused into the economy without any trace as said by the President in his Message. The infusion was done in response to last year’s monetary crisis which saw a steep depreciation of the Liberian dollar against the U.S. dollar – Liberia’s second currency.
Paye: “Fellow Liberians, you waited in vain for detailed explanation from the president on how the administration “infused” US$25m into the economy in response to last year’s monetary crisis. There is no trace of how US$17m of this amount it was used. For the first time since Liberia returned to democratic governance, we have a president whose finance minister does not prepare quarterly or mid-term reports as required by Law, the 2018/19 budget being a classic example. Instead, the finance minister is like a parrot perched on the branch of an oak tree programmed to make noise. That is not the function of a finance minister.”
He added that Pres. Weah should have provided answers to riddles surrounding the 16 billion Liberian dollar banknotes. “The president needed to provide satisfactory answers for questions surrounding the L$16bn (some say L$15bn, L$10.5bn) reported by his own Ministers of Justice and Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism to have gone “missing” last year. The message today provided no such answers other than what the nation has already heard.”
Paye and his colleagues wondered why the Legislature has not shown keen interest in getting to the bottom of the missing billions and how the US$25 million was infused into the economy.
“The vast majority of Liberians hate corruption, but the president has gowned and given it a top seat within his administration.
What did Weah say about it today? Nothing concrete at all because he lacks the moral rectitude to even mention it,” Chairman Paye said.