— But commits to transparent, fair and peaceful elections
President George Manneh Weah has said that his administration will 'deal with' people who want to undercut the gains and progress made thus far after years of the consolidation of the country’s peace.
Speaking in the Joint Chamber of the Capitol as he delivered the 6th and Final State of Nation Address of his current term, Weah said the discovery of the large cache of assorted weapons and ammunition were not only “shocking”, but “the development is a major cause for concern” with seven months to elections.
President Weah reported to the 54th Legislature that the Liberia National Police is still investigating with support of international partners, but he did not say how far the investigation has gone.
Weah noted that his government would not condone any act of violence that would plunge Liberia back into chaos by derailing the security and stability of the Liberian state. He sent out a caveat to would-be troublemakers to be mindful or have themselves to blame as the government will act decisively.
“We were all recently in shock when we awakened to news of the discovery of a large cache of arms in a container at the Freeport of Monrovia,” the President said. “We applaud the vigilance of all national security agencies for their collaborative efforts in effecting this bust. Coming on the heels of the October elections, this development is a major cause for concern.”
“I have been made aware that the National Police Force continues to pursue every possible lead in their investigation of this illegal act, including diplomatic measures to have the alleged perpetrators face justice.”
Weah, who is up for reelection just nine months from now, has not only promised to respect the will of the Liberian people but expressed optimism that Liberia will pass the test of holding another peaceful and credible post-war election, come October 10.
He claims that the upcoming elections are noteworthy since Liberia would be solely in charge of organizing and administering them, since the drawdown of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in 2018.
Weah added that his government summoned the collective will to vigorously confront potential troublemakers and anarchists, by applying the full force of the law that is provided “for such circumstances.”
“We owe it to ourselves, to our children, and to our children’s children, to repel and eliminate any threat to our hard-won peace. Our well-earned credentials as a nation of peace and democracy in West Africa will be put to the test in about nine months from today, when we head to the polls for General and Presidential elections,” Weah said.
“These will be the fourth elections since the end of the war in 2003, and they will be an important benchmark for judging the extent of the consolidation of peace in our country.
“This is our moment, therefore, to continue to demonstrate to the world that we are a peace-loving nation, and that we are capable and ready to undertake elections that include all Liberians in a free and credible process.”
Meanwhile, Weah, while urging Liberians to shun violence, blames the country’s youthful population, some of whom did not experience the civil wars, of wanting to perpetrate violence.
The Liberian leader claims that in most cases, the youths who desire violence have had little or no experience of war, saying no political leader should ever put the life of a single young person at risk “in order to assume political office.”
“We have now enjoyed 20 years of unbroken peace, and it can readily be seen that young people, who are coming of voting age for the first time since turning 18 years old, have had no experience of war. They are quickly and easily manipulated to do harm and instill violence. We need to guide our young people and inspire them to reject violence and conflict as a means to express their grievances and dissatisfactions.
“It is often said that experience is the best teacher. But I vigorously disagree with this. While experience has certain undeniable merits, one does not have to repeat an experience to learn from it, especially if it is not a positive one,” he said. “Rather, one should revert to history for one’s education, because, as is often said, those who ignore the lessons that history teaches us about our past mistakes, are bound to repeat them.”
Weah noted that the moral lesson for all Liberians who were around during civil wars and rice riots of 1979, is that they should never allow young people to be contaminated by everyday politics.