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Liberian Soccer Star Turned Politician George Weah Seeks Senate Seat

FILE - George Weah in Monrovia.

Two-time Liberian presidential candidate and football legend George Oppong Weah said he will be a candidate in a special election for the Senate in Montserrado County.

Weah, founder of Liberia’s main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), had recently been serving as Liberia’s Peace Ambassador.

But, late Tuesday, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s office announced that she had received Weah’s resignation.

The Montserrado County senatorial race is crowded with some prominent names, including one of Sirleaf’s sons, Robert.

But, Weah said, while not underestimating the other candidates, he is confident of victory. Weah won the county in the last two presidential elections.

“I ran against the most powerful woman in Africa as stated by many of you in the media, and the first female president, and she could not beat me in Montserrado County. So, I don’t think those who are running against me will beat me,” he said.

Weah said he does not want to be complacent, but he has his own strategy to once again conquer Montserrado County.

Before his announcement, there were rumors that Weah had been paid by Robert Sirleaf to stay out of the race.

Weah said neither he nor his CDC party extort money from people for leadership of the party. He used the example of Ambassador Winston Tubman, who in 2011 came from outside to become the CDC’s presidential candidate.

“No one ever tried to bribe me or told me they want to give me money to leave a race, and Winston Tubman can attest to that. When Winston Tubman became the leader of the party, it was [a] party decision. He did not give me a dime,” Weah said.

He said it was the decision of CDC strategists in 2011 that Tubman should become the standard bearer of the party, and not Charles Brumskine of the Liberty Party.

The CDC has recently been embroiled in inter-party squabbling, including the ouster of the party's chairman, George Solo, leaving some to suggest Weah lacks leadership skills.

Weah described the criticism as "political gimmicks."

“In every political party, there’s internal wrangling. Even the Unity Party (President Sirleaf’s party). We have more than two, three different groups in Unity Party. But, I’m not going to give relevance to those false allegations,” Weah said.

Weah said the CDC as a political institution has a constitution that protects every member. He said some members might feel dissatisfied because of certain decisions taken by the Executive Board of the party.

He said that during the 11 years that he has led the CDC, the party was responsible for peace in the country. Weah said the CDC, as the largest political party in the country, has been cooperative in maintaining Liberia’s fragile peace.

It has been suggested that Weah, having lost the presidency twice, wants to become a senator to help him run for higher office in 2017. But he said whether he runs for the presidency again would be determined by the CDC.

“Our party has a strategy. If it means I will be on the ticket in 2017, then I will. If the party decides to come up with another candidate, I would be part of that strategy,” he said.

Weah had some harsh words for deputy national police director AB Kromah, who he accused of jailing, for nearly a week, the leader of the CDC’s youth wing, Jefferson Koijee.

“I said, and I will say it again, that there will be no more war in Liberia because we’re in a democratic period. Those who did wrong to innocent Liberians – military groups, rebel groups – if those people get another chance to work in the society again, then they must change. They must not harass innocent citizens. So, the deputy police director, I know him very well, he’s my friend, and I know the part he played in the war,” Weah said.

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