"I’m calling on Liberians to think twice about next year's elections. It should not be about a bag of rice, but about the country's future,” he said.
Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe is becoming increasingly brazen in his warning to Liberians that next year's elections represent the best chance for the country to be free of “economic hardship, lawlessness, and corruption” under the George Weah-led government.
Gongloe, who is an aspirant for the nation's highest political seat — the presidency in the upcoming 2023 elections — said that Liberians need to be aware that elections are about the future and, if they remain focused and not be carried away by cash-wielding politicians, they can rescue the future of the country, which he believes, is at stake under Weah.
"I’m calling on Liberians to think twice about next year's elections. It should not be about a bag of rice anymore or merrymaking, but about making serious decisions about our country's future. [The] 2023 election is about the future, so everyone should vote rightly at the ballot box,” he warned.
“Right now, Liberia is virtually in an intensive care unit, and voting for this government again will be about committing national suicide. I believe that given the hardship that Liberians are experiencing, they will be informed about their situation to vote properly next year," he said.
Gongloe, who is expected to contest on the ticket of the Liberian People’s Party, made the remarks at the Roberts International Airport (RIA), having returned from a two-month trip to the United States of America, where he went to pitch his vision for Liberia to compatriots in the Diaspora, many of who influence family back home. He sought to actively lay the groundwork for his 2023 presidential bid and worked to gain a foothold among the Liberian Diaspora, whose financial support is crucial to every politician running for the presidency.
His speeches in the US and this one upon his return, which are not just critical of the Weah government but also about Liberians, undoubtedly reflect Gongloe’s towering political ambitions as he attempts to position himself as the better alternative in the opposition community to succeed Weah.
And he has not shied away from delivering a blueprint of sorts to his fellow Liberians about how he intends to govern the country, especially with respect to the rule of law, fighting corruption, promotion of human rights, good governance, and other democratic tenets.
In the US, Gongloe said his message of transformation is resonating with thousands of Liberians there — a signal which he believes indicates that his trip was successful beyond his expectation — as it gives him the confidence that Liberia would be redeemed by him come 2023.
“Liberians are ready for a transformation. The citizens want the country to be transformed into a better nation. That is the message that is resonating in the United States and, because of that, I was able to visit 12 states based on the calls of Liberians. I was not paying my way to go to those states; they were calling me.”
But even at that, he faces an uphill battle in the opposition community, which is already crowded with early-bird high-profile candidates — armed with similar messages and resources to woo voters with quick impact campaign projects.
Addressing an audience of grassroots supporters at the airport, Gongloe reminded 2023 electorates that the elections should not be about what they can get immediately, but about the future direction of the country and how that decision will impact them.
He warned that if Liberians want transformation in government, an end to corruption, promotion, and respect for the rule of law, they should vote out the Weah government from power, or the consequences for a wrong decision might be terrible.
Gongloe added that he has observed that the level of poverty in the country is increasing every day as a result of endemic corruption and a lack of respect for human rights, among others.
In America, he said, Liberians in the majority are complaining that appeals for assistance from back home are increasing — but it is no longer about bundles of zinc to build houses or bags of cement, but rather “for half a bag of rice — demonstrating how low the country has turned.”
“Professional people, too, are begging because they do not have a job. Yet still, Weah is so insensitive to the suffering of the people and [is] dancing "Buka."
"So, that is why we have our broom as a symbol of a new day. If elected, we will sweep corruption out of government, and we will sweep insensitivity, arrogance, and ignorance out of government. That is my mission to the United States," he said. “People who used to be CDCians have changed; they are regretting supporting the President. If elections were to be held today, the President will not get 20% of the vote.”
"Everywhere I went in the United States, Liberians were unhappy with the way their country is being governed. Can you imagine how people who used to be CDCians have changed? They said it to me openly: 'Cllr. Gongloe, we regret it because we thought this young man loved Liberia and was going to improve this situation, reduce poverty, but instead, he is increasing poverty."
Meanwhile, Gongloe has branded Weah as a “domestic terrorist” violating the rights of his people and has vowed to lobby the American government to withdraw the visiting invitation extended to the President.
He alleged that Weah is a ‘domestic terrorist’ since his government instigated the infamous July 26, riot that led to several students of the Student Unification Party (SUP) being severely wounded and a student very critically hurt by members of the CDC- COP, a hardline auxiliary group of the ruling party.
While some of the group members have been arrested and charged with multiple crimes including attempted murder, Gongloe noted that he intends to work with the students to file a legal action against the government, and his law firm will represent them.
According to him, the priority of any state is to protect the lives and properties of its people but, unfortunately, “the government that was popularly elected by young people is now introducing domestic terrorism and the first victim is the young people.”
“The State will not go with impunity; we will take the necessary legal action against them. While I was abroad, I promised the students that “we will certainly do it,” Gongloe emphasized. “As you may recall, it took more than two days before the government acted after we condemned the action of the July 26 riot. And I called upon President Weah to reverse his action and even warned him that we will call upon the American government to withdraw the invitation extended him.”
"This is the first time he could be visiting the United States if he acts correctly. And we can stop that if he continues to be violating the rights of the people. We will bring it to the attention of the United States Government and appeal to them passionately to say that the US can’t undermine its importance in Liberia by inviting someone who engages in domestic terrorism," Gongloe said.