Pres. Weah Rubbishes Third-Term Argument
The President of the Republic of Liberia, George Manneh Weah, has demystified the argument that his purpose for pushing for a national referendum, especially for a clause to reduce the tenure of the Presidency, is because he wants to tap on the law to secure a third-term bid.
Speaking in Nimba County, where he had gone to dedicate a road project implemented by the Ministry of Public Works and identify with the campaign rally of the county’s CDC candidate, Jeremiah Koung, President Weah noted that the importance of all the eight propositions is glaring, and that his intention to propose a referendum is to give opportunity to the citizenry, whom he described as the government, to decide whether or not they want certain changes in the 1986 Constitution.
“We believe that the referendum is in the interest of the people; that is why we proposed it. And this referendum is for you to ensure that you vote for what is in your interest and vote against anything that goes contrary to your aspiration for the country,” President Weah noted.
He continued, “There are people who are not explaining anything to you about the referendum but only telling you to say no to it. Say yes to the referendum, because it gives you the opportunity to make Liberia what you want it to be.”
According to him, there are people who are accusing him of proposing a referendum because he wants to act similarly to the Presidents of Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea—to go for a third term. However, President Weah said, “I can guarantee you that, if I was a President who wanted to go for a third or fourth term, then I would have insisted that the 2005 election results be overturned in our favor. But because I believe in what you gave me and what God has offered me, I decided to let it be, and today I am the President.
“I want you to know that the referendum is not for me to go for third term or fourth term or fifth term; the referendum is to give you the opportunity to serve too, because our laws provide long terms for so many people in our society whom, in return, have nothing to show as achievement. So we are challenging the lawmakers to cut down the tenures of the President, Vice President, Senators and Representatives so that they can work expediently for you, and work fast when they are in those positions.”
President Weah argued that giving public officials a shorter tenure will pressure them to work faster so that they can have face to come back to you to be elected again. He claimed that if elected officials are given a long term, they may relax and act lackadaisical and reluctant on their responsibilities.
He analytically defended Proposition 1 of the referendum, which seeks to provide dual citizenship for natural born Liberians. He said, “A young man was asking why we want to allow other people to come to our country and rule us. Let us not play dangerous politics—there is no Liberian who can be referred to as ‘people’. Liberians are Liberians. You cannot alienate any Liberian because he/she lives in America, Australia or Europe. We are all Liberians. This is an opportunity for all of us. If you have a brother or a child who holds an American or European citizenship, there is a possibility that you can obtain an American or European passport because that brother or child can file in for you.
“But the law is telling you now that, because you child holds a European passport he/she cannot come to Liberia and become a Liberian. That is wrong! Remember, opportunity comes to anyone. Today you have the opportunity to change that law at the referendum. Don’t forget, it could have been you; don’t let anyone tell you to say no to the referendum because we are breaking the law; we are not breaking any law here. If anyone thinks they are intelligent than us then they should man-up to tell you that we ‘PROPOSE’ some instruments for the referendum. It is a proposal for you to look at and make decision. That is why we are explaining these proposals to you. But those who are telling you not to vote are not explaining anything to you.
“As the President, I want to give you the opportunity that, in case you are opportune to travel one day, you can come back to Liberia and be called a Liberian. Remember I did not know that one day I was going to leave Gibraltar to Pachuca to Monte Carlo or to Paris. But if I can do it, you too can do it,” President Weah explained, as he spoke to the hearts and heads of the citizenry.
“Besides, we have our doctors and lawyers who are supposed to be helping us, but these people need ownership. To come here and build a hospital or open a company—it needs ownership. How can I be a Liberian who have millions of dollars and I want to invest but the country says I’m not a Liberian? How then can I invest in that country?” he asked the rhetorical questions.
He entreated the citizenry to think about these issues and turn out for the referendum and vote “yes” to all the propositions.