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December 05, 2012

George Weah to Lead Liberia’s National Reconciliation Effort

by James Butty

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s office has announced that George Weah, a former opposition presidential and vice presidential candidate, has consented to work with the government as its peace ambassador.  

An Executive Mansion release Tuesday said Sirleaf made the announcement during a meeting with representatives of political party leaders, in which she also announced her National Vision 2030, a framework for the country’s future.  

George Solo, national chairman for the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), said Weah’s acceptance to lead the national reconciliation process is a manifestation of his commitment to peace in Liberia.

“This is not a new agenda of Ambassador Weah.  As you are aware, [he] was very instrumental in the disarmament of young people working as a UNICEF Ambassador. So, I think [Weah] has been a pillar of peace in this environment and he has been one of the custodians of the sustainability of the peace that we enjoy today.  So, it’s nothing new.  It’s just a continuation of the manifestation of his commitment to peace,” he said.

Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee stepped down in October as head of the National Reconciliation Commission after criticizing Sirleaf for not doing enough to fight corruption.

Gbowee said they had “differences in opinion on the pathway for national healing and reconciliation.”

Butty interview with Solo

Solo said Weah, by virtue of his acceptance, will also take over the chairmanship of the National Reconciliation Commission because he believes the national interest supersedes the interest of any one individual.

“I believe he will be the chief patron of the roadmap for national reconciliation, and I think Ambassador Weah is well-placed to handle the reconciliatory process because he is one of the aggrieved parties who has agreed to put his personal qualms on hold in the interest of Liberia. I think this is a symbol of patriotism that needs to be congratulated and emulated,” Solo said.

Weah, as standard bearer of the CDC, came second in the 2005 presidential election. In 2011, he ran as the party’s vice presidential candidate, and the party again finished second.

Solo said Weah’s acceptance of the position does not mean that the Congress for Democratic Change has abandoned its desire to be Liberia’s ruling party.  Instead, he said it solidifies the party’s ambition.

“I don’t think this changes the dimension of the opposition of the Congress for Democratic Change to the ills in our society.  I don’t think this changes the perspective and psychology of the Congress for Democratic Change of equal rights and accountability and proper governance.  I think this further manifests that we are willing to stand up for all these positions and highlight all these necessary changes in our society, with the frame of mind that the bedrock for all of these different implementations and exhibition of our civil liberty need to be on the basis of peace,” Solo said. 

Solo said the CDC, as Liberia’s leading opposition party, was somewhat consulted about the government’s National Vision 2030.  

“One of the things that the Congress for Democratic Change has maintained is that, if you make us stakeholders and consultative partners in the early stages of implementation, we are more than happy to give our input, and we hope that these inputs are taken genuinely. But, if you do not do that and present these implementations and they pose a threat to what we see as the harmonization of our society, then we will fight against it,” Solo said.

He said representatives of major political parties would meet later this month in Gbarnga to officially comment on the government’s National Vision 2030.