By: Stephen G. Fellajuah
President George M. Weah on September 25, 2019 addressed the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) where he made some profound remarks, among which he openly boasted that since the one year and nine months of his incumbency, there is no record of his government harboring any political prisoner. In reaction however, while commending the Government of Liberia for “harboring no political prisoners” since its inception into office on January 22, 2018, Rev. Dr. Kortu Brown, President of the Liberia Council of Church, has strongly pointed out that the economic hardship which Liberians are experiencing can only be equated to living in an economic dungeon. The Analyst reports.
“The political environment remains vibrant with the political actors and parties freely exercising their franchises and the same time participating in various elections,” the Liberian President said during his recent UNGA address where he announced to the UNGA and the world that his government holds no prisoners, noting that existing laws which hinder or threaten press freedom, have been decriminalized.
But in a strong reaction to the President’s speech, Rev. Dr. Kortu Brown, while commending the government for decriminalizing free speech and enhancing democratic plurality through transparent electoral processes, however, noted that Liberians are experiencing the worst economic hardship under the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change government headed by President George Weah.
“I would hasten that while there are no political prisoners, the ordinary people are economically in prison,” Rev. Kortu Brown said, adding, “The situation is such that you may be walking in the day as though it is in the night.”
Harsh Realities, Runaway Economy
Highlighting the excruciating economic conditions facing ordinary Liberians, Rev. Brown noted the drastic disparity between the rising cost of living and the abysmal devaluation of the local Liberian currency against the United States Dollars.
Rev. Brown stressed that the government should provide clearer roadmap to address the economic challenges, not taking for granted what Liberians are going through. “People are living now by the grace of God. They used to say it before but now it is really actualized,” the Liberian prelate said.
He stated that the inflation rate in the country is around 28 percent, thereby putting the country’s economy out of hand, with the economy “managing itself”.
Seemingly frustrated, the Man of God lamented: “The economy is self-managed; we are just following it. We do some sporadic interventions but they are not enough; they are not structured; they are not systemic. Economically, I am worrying about Liberia. I am worrying about ordinary Liberians.”
Life After National Economic Dialogue
Rev. Brown also raised nagging concerns with the government’s handling of the outcome of the recent National Economic Dialogue (NED) which was initiated to brainstorm and find solutions to the country’s current economic quagmire. According to Rev. Brown, the National Economic Dialogue has ended, but the only issues now highlighted by the government are those concerning the oft-talked-about war crimes court and the printing of L$35 billion new banknotes, while L$21 billion remains in circulation in the economy.
Expounding on the printing of the new currency that the Weah government keeps rapidly harping on, Rev. Brown intimated: “The printing of the money was not discussed in the National Economic Dialogue by stakeholders”, noting further: “We have to open our ears and listen to the debate coming from every quarters of our country. We should study the alternatives surrounding the printing of the new notes.”
The Liberian prelate said, to create the enabling environment for special ideas and stronger partnerships that will work along with the rest of the Liberian community where many people in the country can help the government, the Weah-led government must present the challenges faced for the participation of every sector of the society.
Rev. Brown said that the government should introduce programs that are measurable, monitored and reviewed through comprehensive dialogue, not only on the basis of partisan participation.
On the issue of the enhancement of the peace process, the LCC President gave top credit to the UN and all of its development partners for “helping us sustain the peace”, noting, however, that the biggest credit goes to all Liberians because they are the only ones who can keep the peace.