In his inaugural speech yesterday, President George Manneh Weah assured Liberians that the mandate given him is to end corruption in public service.
President Weah, whose Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) obtained 61.5 percent of votes during the December 26 runoff election, said his overwhelming mandate received from the Liberian people clearly demonstrates that they want his government to end corruption in public service.
“I promise to deliver on this mandate,” Weah emphasized to rapturous applause.
Weah admonished those who will be appointed public officials to put the interest of the people above their personal interests.
“As official of government, it is time to put the interest of our people above our own selfish interests. It is time to be honest with our people,” President Weah noted.
Admittedly, Weah said though corruption is a habit among the people, “We must end it. We must pay civil servants a living wage so that corruption is not an excuse for taking what is not theirs.”
He added: “Those who do not refrain from enriching themselves at the expense of the people, the law will take its course. I say today that you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
President Weah maintained he believes that the most effective way to directly impact the poor and to narrow the gap between rich and poor is to ensure that public resources do not end up in the pockets of government officials.
Reacting to President Weah’s remarks, a Liberian legal practitioner, Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi, maintained that for the people to take Weah serious, stolen money must be recovered and the public official(s) investigated and prosecuted.
To also achieve that, Massaquoi suggested that the Solicitor General’s (S/G) office should be made independent from that of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).
“The S/G office should be independent so that there will be no interference with his/her prosecutorial power; then, I believe his government will succeed in its fight against corruption,” Massaquoi noted.
Another important issue, the Supreme Court lawyer said, is to ensure the establishment of a Corruption Court that would speedily hear and adjudicate cases of corruption.
“This will make Liberians believe that President Weah is serious about fighting corruption,” Massaquoi emphasized.
“Weah’s government also needs to ensure that integrity institutions are well funded and free from interference in their operation.”