Last of 1st Term UNGA Oration -Weah Briefs World Body on Six-Year Stewardship Today -What Did Weah Say In 2018, What Will He Say Six Years After?
MONROVIA: Why political campaigns rage on at home, and the tempo of the nation is in the balance, President George Manneh Weah has taken a brief pause, leaving the country for New York, United States of America, where world leaders are assembling for the famous United Nations General Assembly Debate. Apparently, it would be a pleasant duty on the part of the Liberian leader, as he ends his first constitutional six-year term this year, to give a briefing to the revered body that watched him, a former soccer star, when he first appeared before that august body at this time in 2018. While details of what he’s got in stock for the UNGA is scanty if nonexistent, insiders hint that he will use the historic moment not only to remind them about his promises six years ago but also to make full disclosure that he hailed the nation for little over half a decade. The Analyst reports.
In September 2018, while he was still grubbing about as his regime was still in its puberty, President George Manneh Weah was announced by protocol and he walked perhaps bewilderingly to the United Nations General Assembly Debate podium in the full glare of the revered body and the entire world.
On that day, September 26, 2018, world leaders at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly, watched on as the 24th President of Africa’s oldest republic made the historic appearance, perhaps amazed and stunned seeing the first world class athlete turned president joining them as colleagues to address them.
First UNGA Oration (2018)
When he had made the necessary oratory and traditional pleasantries, the Liberian leader, less than nine months in office, declared before the world body which was then presided over by Her Excellency Ms. Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces of Ecuador, and Secretary General Excellency, Antonio Guterres:
“Late last year, Liberians participated in Presidential and Legislative elections, the results of which represented a major shift in the underlying fundamentals of the Liberian political dynamic. In an orderly, lawful, and peaceful manner, Liberians voted in overwhelming numbers for a Change for Hope. This was the first time in 73 years that Liberians enjoyed a peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected Government to another.”
He continued: “At the end of the long campaign, when the results were announced after the runoff, it became clear that the pendulum had swung in the direction of youthful leadership, and that the paradigm had shifted in favor of change and transformation. The United Nations and its various bodies, as well as regional organizations and many of our bilateral partners and friends, were direct witnesses to the maturity of the Liberian electorate, our respect for law and order, and the successful institutionalization of the democratic processes.
“As Standard Bearer of the winning Coalition for Democratic Change, the mantle and responsibility of leading this transformation therefore devolved upon me, when I was inaugurated as the 24″” President of Liberia on January 22, 2018.”
Then the Liberian President divulged before the world body: “The challenges of leadership are enormous, but in each and every one of these challenges, I see opportunities to make things better, and to bring permanent improvements to the lives of all Liberians, as we devise policies and programs that will have a lasting and positive impact on the lives of our citizens.
“The umbrella program under which we intend to pursue prosperity is the Pro-Poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity (PAPD), our National Development Plan for the next five years. This is not an Agenda only for the poor; it is for the benefit of all Liberians. But it is a policy framework that gives priority to the alleviation of poverty, and its core objective and focus is to reduce the marginalization of the most vulnerable, whilst at the same time creating a conducive atmosphere for the middle and upper income Liberians to grow and prosper. We want to build a harmonious society, based on the goal of economic empowerment, especially for the underprivileged.
“Our Pro-Poor Agenda is therefore designed to give power to the people, promote economic diversification, protect sustainable peace and encourage good governance. We appeal to our friends, bilateral partners, and private investors to support this agenda.”
Six Years Ending
Taking the stand six years ending, President Weah is expected to say how those novel ideals promised have translated into concrete realities.
This Paper is not privy to today’s oration, but it is expected that the President would brief the world, using the platform of the United Nations General Assembly, on an exhaustive list of achievements of the PADP and the challenges that have berserk his administration.
The Public Affairs Section of the Executive Mansion has given a bird’s eye of what the President is likely to tell the world.
In a brief press release posted on the Facebook Page of the Executive Mansion, the President is among over 140 world leaders attending the opening of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) 78th Session—UNGA which is an annual event that brings together global leaders for a high-level debate that retrospect and discusses pertinent world issues.
According to the release, the President will take the podium today, September 20, 2023, to address the world, and is expected to reassure UNGA and the world of “his unflinching commitment to uphold a free, fair, inclusive, and transparent election”.
It added: “He is also expected to call on the world for her collective effort in addressing climate change, democracy and action to attain the Sustainable Development Goals as well as addressing terrorism in Africa and the world at large.”
It would not be a surprise if the President today mentioned the challenges encountered, including exogenous issues such as the devastating COVID-19 pandemic and the biting undercuts of the Russia-Ukraine war, which might be cited as obstacles of his full successive term.
According to the insiders, the President will however not forget to name specific milestone achievements, which include the tumultuous macroeconomic weather which nearly capsized his administration in its early days but was stabilized, evidenced by favorable reports and projections by the revered IMF and World Bank.
He could also brag about the fact that the unprecedented political tolerance of his administration during the whole of his first six years in office – and endeavor that shows proof only in the proliferation of the otherwise hostile and aggressive media and advocacy civil society organizations in the country, but also by the fact that there wasn’t a single political prisoner during the first term.
An insider divulged that the President in also going to brief the United Nations General Assembly of his administration’s successes that include the expansion of pro-poor social services such as free tuition in public schools, free housing units, wider electricity grid to the poorest of poor communities, more paved public roads, amongst others.
The insiders informed this paper that President Weah will speak at length about issues that concern the world body—climate change, war in Ukraine, impact of COVID-19, and trade barriers against African economic growth.
“The President will also not forget to tell the UNGA and the wider world that, as an espouser of democracy, he will not contest beyond his second term for which he’s putting himself on the ballot this year, and that he will ensure that the October elections will be credible, free and transparent, as unhindered leverage will be given to international observers,” a member of the delegation to the UNGA who begged not to be named because he was the right person to speak to the media on the matter.
“The world body needs to know, and the President will say it, that for the first time in many decades, Liberia, headed by him, will be conducting general and presidential elections almost fully funded by his government,” he source said.
“While records show that the CDC-led administration conducted many by-elections without international support, and they were all carried out peacefully, credibly and fairly, this year’s general and presidential elections will be the first of its kind for a Liberian government to, without international logistics and money, conduct them. This, no doubt, constitutes a major political weightlifting for us.”
“And certainly, the President will boast freely about this by saying it loudly and clearly to the hearing of world leaders, international community and cynics,” he said further.