George Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party won the plurality in the first round of Liberia’s 2005 presidential election. But he was beaten badly in a face off with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who went on to be Africa’s first elected female president. So what has happened to the CDC and George Weah? There are rumors that Weah is pursuing a college degree somewhere. Over the weekend, partisans of the CDC residing in the United States held a convention near Washington to elect new leaders.
Acarous Gray is the national assistant secretary general for the Congress for Democratic Change. He told VOA the CDC has been the most active opposition party since the 2005 presidential election.
“If you speak to people throughout the streets of Liberia and you come outside of Liberia, you will come to understand that that is the most populous political arrangement. So CDC remains the strongest political force in Liberia even against the ruling Unity Party,” he said
Gray said the CDC as an opposition party is making sure that the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf keeps its commitment to the Liberian people.
The CDC had been criticized as the party of former Liberian football legend George Weah who came second in Liberia’s 2005 presidential elections. But Gray said the CDC believes in building institutions and not individuals.
“We came to the process to make a difference. So the CDC is not George Weah and George Weah is not the CDC. The CDC is about the downtrodden masses, the have-nots in the Republic of Liberia. Those who stood come rain or shine and voted for that institution. They are the people that are actually the decision makers of this party. And it’s a grassroots driven political institution. After elections we don’t expect that all will be George Weah, but all will be the CDC as a political institution,” he said.
It had been rumored that Weah was pursuing a college degree at an unidentified institution. Gray confirmed the speculation but would not disclose which institution Weah is or would be attending.
“I can tell you for sure that next week George Weah will be in Monrovia and it will be pronounced publicly. But I am not clothed with the authority to state exactly the university that George Weah is expected to be in at this point in time. But I can tell our people back home that obviously George Weah will be pursuing his education. But I think it must come from George Weah,” Gray said.
He said the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-led government has not lived up to the promises it made to the Liberian people.
“The Liberian people’s expectations have been mammoth. But today I want to tell you that the performance of the government has been dismal, domestically. Dismal in a sense that during the past interim regime, the Liberian Dollar rate against the U.S. was 52 to one. But today it’s 62 to one. So you see a difference of 10. Now you talk about the issue of basic commodities in Liberia. We spoke against monopoly during the Taylor era. The government came and introduced monopoly. And today there is this blanket of corruption that hangs over the regime, and we cannot give the percentage that is expected of the government,” he said.
Justice Minister Frances Johnson Morris last month repeated a previous claim by President Sirleaf earlier this year that certain individuals or groups were plotting to overthrow her government. Gray said the CDC is not involved in any effort to overthrow the government.
“We are the most democratic group of people in the Republic of Liberia, and we can never venture in such an arrangement. But we think that the statement of the justice minister is ambiguous. If you have evidence on one or two opposition, you should be clear and distinct because you remember the president’s state of the nation address at the beginning of this year, she made similar statement. Your are talking about six months with no prima facie. So we think that what we have in Liberia right now, we have an old wine in new bottle. And to have old wine in new bottle is not good for the democratization process in Liberia,” he said.
Gray reminded Justice Minister Frances Johnson Morris and President Sirleaf that they both were once victimized by the Samuel Doe and Taylor regimes with similar false claims of coup plots. He advised both the president and her justice minister not to engage in similar tactics.
Liberia’s auditor general told VOA recently that he believed the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was three times more corrupt than the last interim government of Gyude Bryant. Gray called on the President to sack all corrupt officials in her government.
“The president has acknowledged on several occasions that there is corruption in her government. But the president has failed to act because we have not seen anyone being prosecuted for corruption. So we don’t know what the president is doing. So when John Morlu comes on the air and say that this government is three times as corrupt as the Bryant government, for some of us we see some of the same faces, not only from the Bryant government, but from the Doe government and from the Taylor government,” Gray said.