MEMO TO THE PRESIDENT (latest)

Subject: Denying Ex-President Weah Use of RIA Presidential Lounge Is Concerning

Your Excellency,

Let’s first take this moment to thank God for your arrival back to the country and to welcome you and delegation from the recently held Korean-Africa Summit. Your representation of the country to that revered gathering of world leaders, including the speeches you made and investment meetings and negotiations held in the interest of this country is commendable. Despite cynicisms in other quarters about what was said and what was earned or not earned, we think every well-meaning citizen must praise God for ensuring safe journey made in the name of beloved country and for raising the flag of the nation high once again.

Mr. President, though you have just returned and may be confronted with enormous state issues on your desk, it is also exigent and necessary to bring to your attention something that occurred in the country while you were away. And that’s the incident about the denial of former President George Manneh Weah use of the presidential lounge at the Roberts International Airport.  As you may be aware, this is not the first time such an incident happened. It’s the second.

Is this issue exigent and necessary as others think? Yes, it is. In our view, it borders on national reconciliation. It centers on national harmony and unity. It has got to do with peace, love and good governance. All these are ingredients needed to underpin national stability, to spur development and cohesiveness.

Your Excellency, we believe the use of a presidential lounge by a fellow Liberian statesman, such as the stature of ex-President Weah, does not take away anything from you personally or from your administration generally. It in no way suggests parallel powers. Not at all.

Presidential lounges at airports are transiently used facilities; for a few minutes or few hours’ use. They are not “presidential lodges” where people sleep, do laundries and spend nights and days. Even at that, what is wrong with sharing with a fellow Liberian VIP a presidential lodge? Aren’t humility, patriotism and humanity, reconciliation and peace which are catch phrases in your major speeches needed to be manifested in this instance? Don’t you see how this whole saga has placed a huge question mark and doubt to your professed desire and yearning for post-election reconciliation and unity? Don’t you see collision course between what is said by you and what is being done?

In other words, Mr. President, despite arguments that the very presidential lounge repeatedly denied President Weah was constructed by him, how can independent-thinking Liberians be assured that your administration’s continued refusal to let your immediate-past predecessor use a presidential lounge does not contract your national clarion call for reconciliation and unity. Does it not defeat the very pursuit of post-elections reconciliation, peace and love you often sermonize? It does. There is no if and but about that, Your Excellency.

We are quite aware that you keep telling political stakeholders, including Weah and the CDC, that elections are over—elections in which you defeated them with paltry 20,000 votes—and that it is time to come together, unite, reconciliate and contribute to nation-building. Do you think, Mr. President, that such a national clarion call is genuine and truthful with all that your administration is doing to the ex-president in addition to the political stampede your administration has visited upon tenured officials of the past administration and thousands of civil servants? Does it not give the impression that you are not ready for reconciliation and that this era belongs to you and the Unity Party alone, and none other Liberians matter?

Our plea to you on this airport lounge is this: Please ensure that this does not happen again. Whether it is ex-president Sirleaf, or ex-president Weah, or any head of the other two branches of government, be they your partisans or not, let them have access to the only important VIP lounge we have. As already stated, it does not demean you in anyway nor take any ounce of your presidential powers. It only proves you are truly a patriot, humble and reconciliatory as you often say you are.

We know that party zealots find pleasure in these kinds of politically humiliating spectacles for their rivals, and some may dismiss our counsel. But we maintain that, after the very heated and highly uproarious elections of 2023, when wounds were retributively verbally inflicted, and blood shed even if in isolated cases, you as the victor and having the sacred responsibility of governing, are under obligation to advance and champion the need for reconciliation and peace.

While it may be true that Weah or Sirleaf or any eminent Liberia can afford to build a lounge of the stature of what is available if there were a need for anyone to personalize airport facilities, that is not how states are run. The one that is available with taxpayers’ money is sufficient, or should be enough, for those of you who are our present and past leaders. You all deserve whatever prestige, honor and dignity it confers. You are all Liberians. Let’s the divide created by the past elections not be widened on account of the use of a presidential lounge. “Bartee!!”

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