Liberian Leader Tested by Mass Anti-Government Protest

President George Weah during his first State of the Nation Address

Thousands of protesters gathered Friday in Monrovia, marking Liberia's largest anti-government demonstration since George Weah became president in early 2018.

Twenty-nine-year-old secretary Phetah Mondeh said she was fed up with allegations of corruption.

"He's got a bunch of criminals in his government and calls them ministers and government officials and they are looting our country," she said. "We are suffering in this country and Weah has nothing to say but only to justify and defend his government every time."

The nation was rocked by claims last year that more than $100 million in Liberian banknotes had disappeared.Although an investigation concluded the banknotes had not disappeared, it did reveal serious mismanagement of the country's finances.

Protester Noel Gibson voiced a common complaint about inflation and the poor economy.

"The hardship in this country is even higher than the previous government they replaced," he said. "For example, the nation's staple food was $1,850 at the time that they came. Now it's $2,800."

The organizers of the demonstration said they would present a list of demands to the government of Weah, a former pro-footballer turned politician.

Weah has said they have a right to protest and would not be stopped. The demonstration was seen as the first in a string of tests for the Liberian leader as criticism of his government grows.

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