As Liberians go the polls next Tuesday to vote in an eight-count referendum that has been hotly contested by the opposition bloc and other stakeholders due to what they say, among other concerns, is the insufficient awareness on the core propositions of the referendum, President George Manneh Weah has debunked claims of a third term bid if the referendum proposition on reduction of presidential tenure is passed.
Addressing citizens and residents of Nimba County when he went to break grounds for the new 39 kilometer pavement of the Ganta to Harper Highway during the week, President Weah used the occasion to inform the Liberian people that he harbors absolutely no intent to use the referendum and hustle a third term as it is being widely speculated.
“Some people say they are proposing a referendum because the president wants to act like Côte d’Ivoire or Guinea; he wants to go a third term. But I guarantee you that I am the president, if I want to go for third term or fourth term, around 2005 I was going to insist that the result be for us. But because I believe in what you gave me and what God offered me, I decided to stay away and today I am the president.
“I want you to know that the referendum is not to go third term or fourth term or fifth term. The referendum is to give you the opportunity for you to decide. Because, in our society you have so many people that have long term, they have nothing to show. So we are challenging those people to cut down the tenure of presidency, the representative, the senators so they can work expediently for you. They can work fast when in the position; because when you give them four years, they will do everything fast. They will develop because they know they have a short term. When they have a long term, they will act lackadaisical, they are relaxed, they don’t care. So we must make sure that it’s good for you,” President Weah told the citizens of Nimba.
Speaking further, President Weah said he was more concerned that certain political figures are bent on misinterpreting the real intent of the referendum to accomplish their selfish political agenda.
“I listened to a particular person; I will not call his name. He said that we are breaking the laws of the Republic by proposing a referendum to our people. Now, this is a person that wants to be president of a country, goes on the radio and says the president is breaking the law because he’s proposing a referendum. Now, what is a proposal? We have an instrument during this election period that we believe can help you. And that’s why we proposed a referendum, and this proposal is for you to go and make sure if it’s in your interest you vote for it. But they will not explain to you, they will say, ‘say no’. But you should say yes to the referendum because the referendum gives you the opportunity for you to be what you want to be. It’s nothing against you. The president did not break any law,” President Weah clarified.
As regards the portion of the referendum that deals with dual citizenship, President Weah cautions his compatriots to be very careful in taking actions that will disallow them benefiting from opportunities that some critics of the referendum are enjoying.
“Let us not play dangerous politics. There is no Liberian you can call people. Liberians are Liberians. You cannot alienate any Liberian because he lives in America or in Australia or in Europe. We are all Liberians. It’s an opportunity for all of us. If your brother is an American, or your child is an American, there’s a possibility that you can have an American passport because that child can file for you. If your son is a European, he can file for you. Now to tell your son because he has a European passport he can’t come to Liberia that is wrong. Remember, everyone has an opportunity. Today you have an opportunity to vote for the referendum so it could be you. Don’t let them tell you, ‘say no to referendum’, ‘they’re breaking rules’. We are not breaking any rules here. If anyone thinks they are more intelligent than us, they come to you, and use the word ‘propose’. A proposed instrument for the referendum is a proposal for you to look at; but they are not going to explain that to you. Even those that tell you ‘say no to the referendum’, they will not explain why. But I am the president. I can explain to you why I think these instruments are good for you. It’s not to hijack your process. It’s to give you an opportunity so one day when you go away you can still be a Liberian. Remember, George Weah. I did not know I was going to leave Gibraltar to travel to Monte Carlo or to Paris. Remember that. So if I can do it, you too can do it. Don’t let those that have opportunity stop you from having the same opportunity that they have. Because they have these things, they don’t want you to have them. So they will tell you don’t do it.
“And besides that, we have our doctors and lawyers who can help us, but they need ownership to come here and build their company or to come invest. How can I be a Liberian and have millions of dollars and want to invest and the country says I am not a Liberian. How can I invest in that country? So let us think about that and vote for the referendum and say yes to it,” President Weah said.