“Leave Power Peacefully…” -EJS Implores African Leaders not to Allow Others to Tell them to Leave

MONROVIA – African leaders, including Liberia’s own George Manneh Weah, will hold court with U.S. President Joe Biden during the upcoming December 13-15, 2022 US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington. For a country like Liberia whose president is running the last leg of his administration and will lead the nation to the conduct of a free, fair and credible presidential and general elections in a few months, the citizens’ hopes are pinned on how President Biden will use the traditional Washington Leadership Summit to counsel his African allies about the importance of walking the democratic chalk line for the attainment of their respective development goals. In this light, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who in 2017 ceded power to former soccer icon George Weah in what has been considered a free, fair and transparent electoral process, says although she is disappointed about the outcome of her decision to oversee a peaceful transition of power, unlike some African leaders who undemocratically cling to power after the end of their tenure, she hopes African leaders will have the fortitude to leave power peacefully than to allow others tell them to do so.

Speaking on the sideline of the US-Africa Leaders Summit on December 6, 2022 during a public roundtable and public event titled: “Breaking the Barriers of Entry for Women Leaders in Africa” which featured US Permanent Representative to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, among other prominent global women leaders, former President Sirleaf said while she thanked President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for hosting the current US-Africa Leaders Summit, she actually prays that Biden would use the occasion to be frank in telling African leaders what is expected of them in moving their countries forward.

“I hope they will be very straightforward in telling our leaders what is expected of them; recognizing where so many have indeed moved their countries forward; have achieved a lot of their development goals,” Sirleaf intoned.

Speaking specifically on the issue of African leaders clinging to power beyond their constitutional terms on the excuse that they must continue implementation of their regime’s development goals, President Sirleaf said while it is tempting for leaders to forgo the constitution to hang onto power, it is better for a leader to be disappointed by the outcome of their decision to leave power, even in unsafe hands, than to jeopardize the future of the young citizens by averting the constitution.

“But for me, who determines that they hold on to office, and thereby sabotage the future of our young citizens, that they need to be told that we must all have our chance to be able to stay and pass it on, than to let somebody else do it.

“I know there’s disappointment too. I’ve faced disappointment when I passed it on. I got to tell you that. And sometimes I have to stop and say: “did I do the right thing?” But it was the right thing to do. And what has happened cannot be an excuse not to follow the rules and the regulations. What we must do is a better plan of succession so that we can make sure there is continuity in effort, continuity in progress; and I think all of our leaders should be encouraged to think in that way; that there is always a good succession, there is always continuity – if it’s planned properly, and if it’s exercised rightly,” former President Sirleaf stated, to applause from the audience.

The statement from Madam Sirleaf comes against mounting criticisms from the Liberian populace about the galloping economic hardship in the country, amidst bad governance and unbridled impunity.

As the Weah administration continues to be chided by top ranking US government officials over rampant corruption, the US State Department in August this year, placed sanctions on three of President Weah’s top officials for engaging in corrupt activities that undermined development in the country.

The country’s finance minister was also recently ordered detained by Liberian justices for failure to pay the judiciary their salaries, even as the Legislature held a special hearing this week with the Public Works Minister over the inability of the contractor to professionally complete the Robertsfield Highway.

As the government a few days ago announced a new price increment regime for the country’s staple rice, the opposition is gearing for a massive rights march on December 17, 2022. Labeled “We are tired suffering”, the peaceful march is causing jitters for the administration.

In the face of the growing insecurity and economic hardship, the citizens have publicly criticized their president for leaving the country in such dire straits to attend the 2022 World Cup games in Qatar where his son Timothy Weah featured for the US Men’s Soccer Team.

Like former President Sirleaf, many Liberians believe that President Joe Biden should seize the opportunity to name and shame African leaders who are trampling on democracy, and applaud others that are walking the chalk line to ensure good governance.

According to US Government sources, the Summit will demonstrate the United States’ enduring commitment to Africa, and will underscore the importance of U.S.-Africa relations and increased cooperation on shared global priorities.

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