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George Weah Criticizes President Sirleaf on Corruption

Liberian opposition leader George Manneh Oppong Weah said the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is not committed enough to fighting corruption.

Weah, who is chairman of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), said if the president were dedicated enough to fighting corruption, she would stop recycling those officials found to be corrupt.

He was in Washington over the weekend to attend a meeting of the U.S. chapter of the CDC which was held on the campus of the University of Maryland.

"The president wants to deal with corruption but she is not accepting to deal with those people that are corrupt. So where somebody is corrupt and the president takes the person from one position to another, the problem is going to exist," Weah said.

Acting Information Minister Cletus Sieh described Weah's criticism as unfortunate.

He said while corruption is endemic in the Liberian society, President Sirleaf has committed her government to minimizing if not eradicating corruption.

"We are not saying that we have totally eradicated corruption, but we've made corruption one of the key issues here in Liberia. But to say that this government is not doing enough in terms of fighting corruption, we think this is rather unfortunate," Sieh said.

Weah also criticized the government's claim that it has appointed an Anti-Corruption Commission, headed by former elections commission chairperson Frances Johnson-Morris, as part of the government's efforts to fighting graft.

"Who is the boss of the Anti-Corruption Bureau? It's the same person that they charged for corruption. When we try to weed out corruption, we should be very honest in doing it. How can you put people that people know they're corrupt into a bureau that will address those issues?" Weah said.

Acting Information Minister Sieh defended the appointment of Johnson-Morris, describing her as a woman of repute.

Sieh rejected Weah's claims that the Sirleaf government was recycling corrupt officials by moving them from one government agency to the next.

"This government is not going to be involved in jungle justice. We have a rule of law. If someone is accused, they are given their day in court and they must therefore go and exonerate themselves," he said.

Sieh said public perception of corruption is different from reality, and the Liberian government was not going to act on public perceptions.

Weah, who lost the 2005 elections to President Sirleaf, also told VOA he is now a sophomore in college in the United States.

"Since our elections, I came back to the States and enrolled in Duval University, presently a sophomore student and interacting with my party and making sure that CDC becomes a beautiful party for the Liberian people and try to maintain peace and stability in our country," he said.

Weah, who said he still has interest in politics, said he's not majoring in politics but in business administration

"You know, it's my first major so I'm doing business administration. You know business administration has all the disciplines. It deals with politics, leadership. So that's what I chose to do," Weah said.

Nearly a month and a half ago, the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) submitted its final report to the national legislature.

The commission recommended the prosecution of more than 90 alleged perpetrators for war crimes and several others for economic crimes.

The TRC's final report also recommended that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and about 51 others be banned from politics for the next 30 years.

Weah called on President Sirleaf and the Liberian Legislature to implement the Truth Commission's recommendations.