President Weah to Council of Patriots: “I Don’t Seek to Divide My People”

12
1188
Held at the the President's Foreign Ministry office, the meeting with the Council of Patriots brought together key government officials, as well as local and international stakeholders

— Wants more dialogue with June 7 Protesters

President George M. Weah says his government has no intention to divide the people of Liberia, while emphasizing his commitment to uphold the rule of law, rights of the people and civil liberty.

This was President Weah’s main point on Tuesday May 14, during his first meeting with the Council of Patriots (COP), the organizers of the pending June 7 protest. The meeting was called with apt timing — the day being Unification Day, a national holiday in Liberia.

Held at the the President’s Foreign Ministry office, the meeting brought together key government officials, as well as local and international stakeholders. They included Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie, ECOWAS ambassador to Liberia Babatunde Ajisomo, UN Resident Coordinator for Liberia Yacoub El Hillo, head of the Traditional Council of Liberia Chief Zanzan Karwor, representatives of the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), Liberia’s commerce Minister Wilson Tarpeh, Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean, Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf, and Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar Findley, among others.

“We have had our past and our past reminds on how we need to do everything possible to keep the peace of Liberia. We know what it takes to live in refugee camps. I seek not to divide my people [but] respect the rule of law and the rights of people. I also believe in civil liberty and also promote it,” President Weah told the gathering.

However, at the meeting, officials of Council of Patriots, did not present their petitions to the government and partners, including AU, UN and ECOWAS.

According to President Weah, some of the issues raised by the COP during an earlier meeting he held with the Liberian Senate clearly indicate personal issues and not national issues.

“I had the opportunity to deliberate at the Senate, which subsequently led to today’s meeting. Most of issues presented were personal issues and not general issues. It’s unfortunate that today CoP only make a statement instead of presenting their grievances or issues,” President Weah said. “Every time you ask me to do something and I do [it] doesn’t mean that I’m weak but I just think it’s the best way in order for peace.”

Weah continued: “Today is Unification Day and I thought that our CoP was prepared to present their qualms, but instead they want to give their concerns during the protest on June 7. It’s their liberty to do so. We will do everything possible to protect them, but those personal issues cannot be solved; but the general issues.”

President Weah said fixing the country’s economy, a concern raised by the protest organizers, can be done through collective efforts and not by the government alone. According to him, while the country’s economy is tight, it will be solved with time. “My government inherited a broken economy and I have to fix it,” he said, “which started by signing three executive orders to reduce the price of some basic commodities.”

“It’s because of respect for humanity that I do what I do. Every time you asked me to do something I agree with you not because I’m weak but because it’s right thing to do, to respect others’ views,” said President Weah.

President Weah (in white) at the meeting on Unification Day with the Council of Patriots: “Today is Unification Day and I thought that our CoP was prepared to present their qualms, but instead they want to give their concerns during the protest on June 7. It’s their liberty to do so.”

In opening remarks on behalf of the Council of Patriots, Abraham Darius Dillon, who is also Vice Chairman for Political Affairs of the Liberty Party, said: “It’s disrespectful in our culture for the highest office in the land or someone older than you to invite you and you refuse. It’s often said that don’t refuse the call but what’s in the call.”

“Our concern is for you to commit to uphold the Constitution of Liberia and guarantee our rights for protection, beginning June 7, at which time we will present our grievances to you and the government,” Dillon said.

Dillon’s remark was contended by some of the speakers, who said that they expected the Council of Patriots to present their petitions at the meeting with the President.

Dillon, however, said the protest hopes to achieve good governance, the rule of law, transparency, better economy and stabilization of the exchange rate.

“We are getting back to our people, but will be out come June 7. Anyone making insinuation that the exercise of our democratic rights is a threat to the peace, that person is insinuating. We do not intend to do anything that undermines the peace of Liberia. Liberia is the only country that Dillon cannot be deported from,” he said.

Officials of the Council of Patriots present at the meeting were Mr. Dillon, spokesperson of the group, Senator Sando Johnson, Rufus Neuville and a lady.

ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia, Babatunde Ajisomo, said the meeting demonstrates a testimony that President George M. Weah has a listening ear and also reinforces the dialogues with stakeholders, which has subsequently led to today’s engagement.

Amb. Ajisomo recalled the role of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in preventing conflict in Liberia over the years, indicating that the best weapon remains dialogue.

Lauding the Council of Patriots representatives for honoring the President’s invitation, the ECOWAS Ambassador said the dialogue was very important and crucial to the peace of Liberia, especially on May 14, being National Unification Day.

“These meetings are also important due to the observance of Ramadan, which is observed by Muslim brothers and sisters in the same month scheduled for the protest. This is the month that calls for love, peace and forgiveness. With this in mind, we need to accord the greatest level of dialogue with sincerity. Dialoguing calls for openness and we have to also be mindful with our language,” Amb. Ajisomo said.

He added that there is a need for every party’s language to be civil, polite, constructive and cordial because that is what the elders want from everyone, and the region.

Ajisomo also recalled how thousands of peacekeepers from the region and other parts of the world lost their lives during Liberia’s brutal civil crisis, a crisis that many did not know or were never party to, but just with the intent to rescue their brothers and sisters.

He noted that there is no better alternative to the situation than to dialogue, and expressed the belief that the COP will be guided by the national interest, being Liberia, which is greater than any personal interest.

The United Nations Special Representative to Liberia, Yacoub El Hillo, said the Tuesday’s dialogue with the COP is a message to the world that Liberians are choosing the force of logic to solve their differences and not the logic of force.

Mr. El Hillo said the world knows today that under the leadership of President Weah, many Liberians and all Liberians want to fight for peace and not fight any other war except perhaps the war of development and prosperity.

According to him, the peace of Liberia remains paramount and will remain a priority, committing that the UN will continue to engage all sides, including the government and those in opposition, in order to get Liberia moving forward.

“June 7 should be supported and should be allowed to take its course. This day should be given to the people of this country to petition their government in a peaceful, orderly conduct, in close coordination with authorities of the country, especially with the Ministry of Justice,” Mr. El Hillo said.

The African Union special Representative to Liberia, Ibrahim Mbaba Kamara, expressed gratitude to the COP for accepting the President’s invitation and cautioned petitioners to realize that other countries in the world are also suffering. “If you talk about suffering, you need to move to other countries just in the region.”

“This is a government elected for six years and must be given the support. We thought that today, the COP was going to use this opportunity with all the international partners and eminent Liberians present to present their grievances to the government and come demonstrate later,” Ambassador Kamara said.

He said nothing can move this country forward more than Liberian talking with one another. “Sometimes, I follow the media/press and get very much disturbed. I listen to the radio, especially, and the things that come out remind me of Rwanda and I hope that such doesn’t happen in Liberia.”

Amb. Kamara emphasized that President Weah remains a complete democrat who has demonstrated it by using the Unification Day in Liberia to listen to the concerns of the Council of Patriots.

Christopher W. Toe, General Secretary of the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), said this is the meeting that the LCC has long been waiting for and lauded the President for kicking-off the process, indicating that this is the initiative that Liberia been waiting for.

“Our historical path has shown us this has been the last position of past leaders. We have to go into serious conflict before going into dialogue. We are also grateful to the COP for coming to the call of the President. As religious leaders we stand for peace and will always stand for the right things,” Mr. Toe said.

Sheikh Imam Ali Krayee, Chief Imam of Liberia, said the Muslim community has been concerned about the June 7 protest, because “it is Ramadan, time we get close to our God and try to reconcile with each other.

“We have been concerned about the mass protest coming just after Ramadan, which would somehow violate the spirit of the holy month, especially when June 7 is on Friday. We thought that it was not fair to the Muslim community,” he said while committing the Muslim community’s support to the dialogue.

According to him, dialogue is the most logical way of attaining peace in Liberia, indicating that the force of logic should be used instead of the logic of force.

Chief Zanzan Karwor, head of the Traditional Council of Liberia, said the country is making progress in ending the June 7 planned protest.

“We have more days to dialogue, because Liberian people don’t have anywhere to go. We have to continue to engage the COP. We want for the protesters to put what’s in their minds and give to us for every party to meet and talk. We also want to applaud the COP for attending today’s meeting,” Chief Karwor said.

According to Chief Karwor, Liberians do not want trouble and it is time for the parties to sit and decide for the country, especially maintaining the peace and stability of Liberia.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Exactly, how should the alleged quoted statement be ? President Weah to Council of Patriots: ” . I Don’t Seek To Divide My People”. Or should he had said : I do not seek to divide the citizens of this country. It has got to be a personal thing about George Weah and his politics of control. My people , oh boy . Usually it is “our people” by Liberians political standard of speaking. Now the people is his, politically speaking. Wow ! The beloved leader

  2. What I don’t understand is, these are the very group of people, CDCians that protested against the Sirleaf administration without any hesitation nor dialogue. Why and what are they afraid off? Why they did not dialogue with the past administration but took caskets in the streets of Monrovia symbolizing the death of Ellen.

  3. James Davis,
    When Weah says that he does not “seek to divide his people” he’s 100% correct! The reference to “his people” embodies the Liberian people in general.

    There are some Liberians who claim that Weah is not their president. Maybe you are one of them. It would be unpalatable for me to make such a claim about you. That’s because I don’t know you. What I can say with absolute certainty is that it is not wrong for Weah to have used the phrase “my people” in the sense that it was used. For once, let’s be fare. Weah is not a divisive person. Throughout his presidency, never has Weah chosen to divide the Liberian people as your critique implies.

    Davis, what do you mean by “the people is his”? The people, meaning the Liberian people “are” his people. Also, the word “control” is invented by Weah’s critics for purposes of smearing him. Weah does not control anyone. Neither does he seek to control anyone.
    If possible, could you give a good example of how Weah controls the Liberian people?

    • Mr. F Hney, hope could dialogue with you . But you are lacking in independent thoughts. Most ideas of yours are always referencing the independent thoughts of others to ride on their opinions. Read the article and come out with your own thoughts without generating a mindset that you have to . Or you do not understand the article in order to come out with an independent thoughts on the article ?

      • Although wishing not to dialogue, the quoted statement by the Anointed and Ordained One is wrong. Whether some people accept him as their President or not , his still the President of all the citizens. Or that he is still the President of all the people. He is not President of ” my people” . That statement is not an inclusive statement. The post made it very clear that politicians traditionally speaking ” our people ” ” our citizens ” and not I don’t seek to divide my people, of course which is exclusive of other including the protesters. The Anointed and Ordained One was never quoted as saying ” The People ” . It is your interpretations .

  4. All this has come about because President Weah is not doing what a leader ought to do. He certainly seems to love his country but he needs to lead. President Weah needs to talk to the Liberian people. He is the captain. Take a keen look at FDR. When he came to the US presidency, American had lots of economic problems. He started talking to the people: identified the problem, discussed solutions, asked the people to sent their suggestions. The problems in Liberia did not start when President Weah took office and the Liberian people know that. Together we can solve these problems. The captain needs to do the talking else others will do it for him.

  5. Mr. Davis,
    My point is similar to yours. You criticized Weah without telling your readers why the meeting was called. The meeting was called in order to avert a major catastrophe.
    Marchers should be allowed to march. That’s very democratic. While it is good for the march to proceed, there’s a possibility for some marchers to go berserk. So the best thing that should have been done is precisely what Weah has done. In my view, Weah and the planners of the march deserve to be commended.

    Davis, your claim that I am “lacking in independent thoughts” is preposterous. I cannot stop you from criticizing Weah or and politician. I believe in free speech. But, when an attack is made with being able to defend your hypothesis, I will challenge it. That’s precisely what I did.

    The issue happens to be about a very important meeting. Your response centers around a statement Weah had made. How does that become significant? How does he control the Liberian people?

  6. Good statement, Mr. President but in contrast, the Patriots are not seeking to divide Liberia. The Group is seeking Transparency, Social Justice and better Government Policies. Since your Administration came to power, ordinary Liberians continue to struggle to maintain their living standard. It is cleared that your Government has increased poverty in a very short time compare to the Johnson Sirleaf’s Administration. Your Government has made corruption obvious, causing ordinary Citizens to resent your Administration as the worst in history. Liberians will never seek division after the worst civil War in Liberia’s history. Your Government inability to maintain fiscal Policy and improprieties in Government are the leading factors for the planned Patriots’ PROTESTS.

  7. Mr. Roberts,
    You have the right to disagree with Weah. You have the right to criticize Weah anytime when you feel that his ideas are unpopular. There’s no way on earth that I could stand in the way of any Liberian who dislikes Weah.

    I totally agree with you. There’s pain and suffering in Liberia. However when it comes time to talk about how the hard times have metastasized in recent years, I think we ought to pause and look back for purposes of accuracy. The economic hardship started under EJS.

    When the last presidential elections were held, the Liberian voters chose Weah because of many reasons. One of the main reasons was that EJS did not help the poor and the uneducated people of Liberia. The voices of the voters became louder and louder. And so when they went to the polls to cast their ballots, the voters voted Weah in. The point is that there was undue hardship before Weah became president.

    Weah must try his level best to attract good talented Liberians. He’s the president. The responsibility to lead rests on his shoulders. But, the truth must be told. Some of his cabinet appointees seem to be unproductive. I’d say, Weah means well. Hopefully, things will get better.

  8. Mr James Davis,
    I read your comment a couple of times. As much as I tried, I couldn’t understand what you wanted to say about the concept of “your people vs what the post” said about politicians. My goodness, what’s that?

    Davis, the Lamb of God is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has been referred to throughout history as the Anointed and the Most Ordained. There’s no one who deserves the title of our soon returning Lord.

    I hope Weah succeeds. I really hope and pray that the economic hardship in Liberia will get better. But as much as I advocate for Weah, I do not think he comes close to being called the Anointed and Ordained.

    James, you and I may have disagreements on any number of subjects. Let’s agree that Weah is not the Anointed one and the Ordained.

    Peace my brother!

Leave a Reply