28 November 2012

Liberia: All Roads to 2014 Mid-Term Election Weah Becomes a 'Formidable Force' - Endorsed and Agrees to Contest the Senatorial Race


When the pages of Liberia's post-war political history are written, there will be a mention of high-ranking names such as Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Charles Brumskine, Prince Johnson, James Fromayan, Varney Sherman and a host of other characters who endeavored to make it to the acme. However, it will certainly be considered the greatest pathological blunder when the writers wittingly or unknowingly skip that of George Manneh Weah, whom many refer to as the "Political Jesus" of the moment, the one who draws all men to him, when stands up. He attempted twice and came very close to becoming Liberia's next youthful president after Samuel Kanyon Doe. His Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) says he was robbed by forces of cheat. But that may not be enough tangible reason to stop him from pushing further in the interest of the country and people he claims to have love. Now, with the 2017 general and presidential elections still a distance away, and considering the strategic nature of 2014 senatorial mid-term to his unending ambition for the presidency of Liberia, Weah has finally accepted to put his hat in the race, and is likely to become a formidable force. The New Republic reports on the latest emanating from the corridor of the CDC and the chance thereof.

After months of mounting speculations surrounding the interest of Congress for Democratic Change (CDC's) standard-bearer in contesting the pending senatorial mid-term elections, it is now established that Ambassador George Weah will certainly stand as one of the many likely candidates political parties will put forth.

Confidential and unimpeachable CDC sources told this paper Monday that the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party met at Weah's Rehab home on Saturday of last week at which time he conceded to run, with the NEC giving its unwavering and unanimous approbation and endorsement.

This is to say that CDC's candidate for the pending senatorial race will be no other than its Standard-bearer and that any other partisan thinking in the direction of running should rethink such decision.

Liberians go to the poll in a by-election intended to elect senators as the tenure of current so-called senior senators elected in 2005 expires in 2014.

Reports, rumors and speculations about Weah's involvement in the pending election billowed in recent times and gone far and near, but the CDC or Ambassador Weah found no interest in speaking to the issue.

But at Saturday's red-lettered meeting of party executives, a decision was made, with the celebrated young politician agreeing to stand as candidate.

According to our source, the decision for his getting into the race followed series of consultations with him and other stakeholders, most especially his family in the United States.

The party, sources said, has been in conversation with him concerning his participation in the senatorial race, but he played down such conversations and promised to consult with his family before making any conclusions.

His chances

George Weah came to the limelight of politics in 2005 during the first elections that followed years of fighting between Government forces and rebels of the Liberians United for Reconstruction and Democracy (LURD).

He may not be one of the best Liberia can boast of, but he is certainly the most populous and most youth-gravitated-to politician of the time, considering his successful footballing career, as one who is seen as an inspiration to Liberian football.

As standard-bearer of the CDC, one of the many parties that sprang up during the elections, Weah became the hero of the time and won the support and admiration of most Liberians, especially the youthful voting population.

As a consequence of his popularity, the CDC came first at the end of the first round of the elections but did not obtain the 50.1% requirement to be declared the winner.

However, Weah and his CDC lost to Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's Unity Party in the run-off election in what the party termed dubious and questionable circumstances, and even challenged the outcome of the elections.

The NEC at the time ruled in favor of some of the qualms raised by the CDC but noted that those were not enough to alter the results of the elections in its (CDC) favor.

Many blamed the loss of the party on Weah not been too schooled and exceedingly sophisticated to become president of a country that was badly in need of serious resuscitation.

He was scolded by his opponents as not having the credentials and wherewithal to lead Liberia considering him not being "a high school graduate" coupled with lack of experience administratively and politically to manage a Liberia so plastered with mounting problems.

George Weah, at the end of the 2005 elections, did not the most honorable thing of accepting the criticisms so positively and decided to go school, firstly to refine himself and secondly to prepare himself for the task ahead.

The CDC strongman who many said is behind most of the problems affecting the party with most outstanding members defecting to other parties, managed to earn for himself a degree from one of America's universities.

Many, even those criticized him in time past hailed him for the achievement and later returned to Liberia to a tumultuous welcome.

However, Ambassador Weah stunned the country and some of his partisans when he decided to run not as standard-bearer of the CDC in the 2011 general and presidential elections, but as running mate to Cllr. Winston Tubman, who many said was so eccentric to the values and deals to which the CDC subscribes.

Since the end of the 2011 elections, the CDC has been struggling to find its bearings as well as its feet on the grounds in that it expelled Cllr. Tubman and that its mini convention was marred by uproar and tension to the extent that some of its partisans, including former Chairman Horatio Gould had to break away and form an alternative party to the CDC.

At the end of the convention held in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, Ambassador Weah was elected standard-bearer of the CDC, putting him in the position to pilot the affairs of the party and change the course of events.

The party, seen by some in governmental circle as troublemaker, is always at loggerhead with the government, the recent situation being the contention surrounding plan to commemorate its partisans that got killed on November 7, 2011 when police officers fired on partisans during an election campaign.

Notwithstanding these vexing circumstances, many Liberians, no matter at what level of professional life, are not ruling the CDC out as it is still being considered as the most formidable opposition party next in succession to the Unity Party.

Formidable force

As President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Senator Prince Johnson classed themselves "formidable" in the just ended elections, so is Weah seen as the formidable force in the pending senatorial elections.

It is no doubt that Weah remains the choice of most of the young force here in Liberia, particular in Monrovia and that is likely to play out well in the elections.

In the past two elections of 2005 and 2011 as well as other by-elections here in Montserrado County, the CDC proved worth of its strength, taking most seats.

In 2005, the CDC dominated the National Legislature at the level of the House of Representative, but the formula changed a bit in the 2011 elections in that it lost most of its seats either to the UP or other parties.

During the just ended elections, the CDC's candidate, Geraldine Doe Sheriff who came to the fore during the bye-election to fill the seat made vacant by the loss of Senator Hannah Bryant, defeated the UP's consensus candidate, Lewis Brown, now Minister of Information.

The UP did not field a senatorial candidate but asked all its partisans and supporters to vote for Mr. Brown, a former opposition leader who crossed carpet at the eleventh hour.

Weah is likely to be a formidable force because of the strength of the CDC in Montserrado County coupled with his popularity.

In fact, there are reports that some lawmakers are in support of Ambassador Weah putting his hat in the race to use it as launch-pad for his presidential bid.

Representative Edwin Snowe of Montserrado County District #6 is on record expressing support for a Weah candidature, and promised not to run but to encourage the former world best footballer to get in the race.

He said at the time that he would support him, and with an Edwin Snowe backing a George Weah, two young popular politicians, analysts say the dice is cast and Weah will be a force to contend with.

He has two options, according to analysts all of which are hundred percent possible. According to the, he could run for Grand Kru County, where he hails, or Montserrado County, where he resides.

Weah's CDC won in Grand Kru County and according to analysts, he could also win should he go in the race for Grand Kru.

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