By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK (IDN) — Confronting soaring prices and shortages of basic goods, Liberians held a “We are Suffering” rally in Monrovia while the president, George Weah, comfortably watched the 2022 World Cup at the White House.
The Monrovia protest was organized by opposition leader Alexander Cummings and drew several hundred people.
“We’e going to give President Weah an ‘F’ because he has failed us as a people,” declared Cummings, one of the leaders of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) coalition.
CPP spokesman, Lewis Browne, added “for those who are tired of suffering and scared to be here, we are here because of you too. This is a beginning of a march to a new Liberia”.
President Weah has been out of the country since the end of October, leading former vice president Joseph Boakai to ask if the West African nation is “running on autopilot”.
A guest of honour in Qatar, the President watched his New York-born son Timothy play soccer for the US team. Weah is expected to return officially on December 18 after seven weeks away.
Weah’s office framed the trip as being in the country’s interests, pointing to his meeting with the Qatar emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani where he secured a verbal commitment for the funding of a highway in Liberia described as “critical national infrastructure”.
But Weah’s opponents say his foreign travels offer no tangible benefit to his country and want the finance ministry to detail the cost to taxpayers. Government officials are only funded for seven days of travel by law, with a daily allowance of $2,000 for the president as head of delegation.
This year, Mr. Weah came under fire a year ahead of the presidential election for his inadequate response to the indictment of three senior officials for alleged corruption and embezzlement by the country’s major U.S. ally.
In August, the US administration announced sanctions against Weah’s chief of staff and two other men, whom it accuses of wrongdoing.
In a report on the business climate in Liberia in 2022, the US State Department described “widespread government corruption” as an obstacle to investment and development that fuels, for example, the lack of electricity and roads.
A fight against corruption as well as a fight against poverty was among the main promises that contributed to the election of the former soccer star in December 2017. In his inaugural speech, Weah said he had been given “a mandate to end corruption in public service”. “I promise to honour that mandate,” he said.
However, his presidency has been troubled by a number of scandals.
The US accusations came a year before the presidential elections scheduled for October 10, 2023. [IDN-InDepthNews — 19 December 2022]
Photo: US President Biden with the Liberian leader. Source: Front Page Africa.
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