Monrovia — As Liberians anticipate going to the polls and electing a new leader for the first time in 12 years, the process continues to be marred by twists and turns.
The latest is the shocking pronouncement by the National Movement to Support Boakai (NAMBO) that Senator George Weah, the Standard Bearer of Liberia's largest opposition party, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) is an American citizen; hence he should withdraw from the presidential race.
Making the announcement in a press conference on Monday, August 21, the Secretary General of NAMBO, Robert Kpadeh said his team has concrete evidence that Senator Weah currently holds an America passport issued on May 3, 2013, with number 505252321, and is expected to expire on May 2, 2023.
"We have obtained tangible document indicating that Senator Weah is an American citizen."
"We uncover this document with shock, it's chilling and revealing because this is someone who has been active in our body politics."
"This is someone who has been presenting himself as a lover of this country. This is someone who said he believes in this country," Kpadeh intoned.
"NAMBO likes to say that this is the height of dishonesty. And I think we should add immorality."
"When you lie to the people and present yourself as the political leader that loves the country so well, and believe in the country and wants to move the country forward , but then you share your allegiance and share your citizenship."
"Our Constitution forbids people who are not citizens of Liberia to be President of this country."
"So, we've called you here today to inform the whole world about the two things that we are going to do.
Firstly, is to ask Senator Weah now to see reason with the fact and we are going to share it possible with you his current passport carrying his citizenship to resign as Senator and to immediately disengage from the Presidential race.
He is not qualified by law; morally he is not qualified. I think he has misled his supporters.
He's been dishonest to the Liberian people," Kpadeh told journalists.
The Coalition for Democratic Change, in a statement signed by the Public Relation Officer from the office of the party's Standard Bearer, Sam Manna, described the allegations as trivial and noted that the party would not waste time discussing such issue; rather they are busily designing strategies to run an effective campaign to ensure the CDC emerge victorious in October, 2017.
"As a norm, the office of Senator George Weah, Standard Bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change, does not engage in trivialities; as such, our initial response is that, we will not waste our time going back and forth with a discombobulated attention seeking surrogate group of Vice President Boakai.
"We are too busy designing strategies and putting measures in place to run an effective campaign, so that we can be given an opportunity to liberate the Liberian people from the current state of economic turbulence; to that of a prosperous Liberia, wherein our people will live in abundance and be given equal access to our national wealth. Anything short of this goal is a sheer distraction geared towards keeping us off focus," the statement said.
Manna rather expressed appreciation to the press, the Liberia National Police and all the security entities for their contributions towards a successful campaign launch.
"We understand that the success of our launch has sent a shockwave into the political atmosphere; thereby creating serious panic and nervousness amongst our opponents, hence the reason for this juvenile allegation & fabrication from the belly of the devil," he added.
But responding to a question whether the allegation is a smear campaign intended to stop Senator Weah from participating in the elections, Mr. Kpadeh noted that his organization has tangible evidence to substantiate their claims and their team of lawyers headed by Cllr. Benedict Sannoh are doing everything to engage the National Elections Commission and the Supreme Court of Liberia if necessary.
Displaying what he claimed is a copy of Senator Weah's American passport, Kpadeh asserted that the CDC Standard Bearer committed perjury and misled the Liberian people by obtaining an American passport after he had taken part in two elections as a Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates respectively.
"He contested in 2005 and 2011; and 2013 he obtained this passport. And this is valid until 2023."
"This man come and say he loves the Liberian people. How can you love this country, but yet share the allegiance of the state with another country," he asked rhetorically.
"Our lawyers, as I speak to you are working on this now. We are passing through the proper channel."
"We are reaching out to NEC, reaching out to the Supreme Court when it is necessary to make sure that Mr. Weah is kicked out of the race. Our constitution is very clear an unequivocal," the NAMBO chief scribe avowed.
It is not the first time that a major Presidential Candidate in Liberia has been accused of being a citizen of America.
It can be recalled that in 2005, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, while opting to be Africa's first elected President, was accused by her opponents of being an American citizen.
Recently the Supreme Court dismissed the case involving a group of concerned Liberians headed by Veteran Politician Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh and the National Elections Commission Chairman, Jerome Korkoya, where the NEC boss was accused of being a citizen of America.
The case was dismissed on grounds that the high court cannot take in evidence.