Mixing National Priorities -What the People Say about Weah Attending Gender Conference -As COVID-19 Rages in Liberia

The presence of President George Manneh Weah in Paris, France to grace a basically virtual, non-in-person “Generation Equality Forum” is creating concerns in many quarters especially as his country reels under the debilitating impact of the COVID-19 virus. But what has got many tongues wagging is not only the daily rising rate of unexplained deaths; the populace is equally jittery over government’s apparent dismal response mechanisms to combat COVID and determine whether the rising death tolls are related to the deadly virus.

Reports also abound of hospitals lacking ventilators, oxygen, and beds to accommodate the needs of COVID-19 symptomatic patients. On the other hand, is the reported laissez faire attitude of government functionaries at the Roberts International Airport in screening passengers and quarantining COVID suspects, which has left much to be desired in the fight against COVID. In the wake of these health security anomalies, Liberians are incensed that their President has opted to attend a Generation Equality Forum wherein his Vice President or the Gender Minister could have ably represented the Republic; while he stayed home to marshal resources and send the requisite SOS call to Liberia’s traditional partner, similarly as his predecessor Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf did at the height of Ebola in 2015 – a strategic move that nipped Ebola in the bud, The Analyst reports.

According to details of the Generation Equality Forum, over three days, the Forum which is entirely virtual will be composed of diverse, inclusive, and inter-generational events. “The work of the Generational Equality Forum in Paris aligns to the priority given by France towards equality between women and men, as an important cause carried by the current president mandate…” a historical backdrop of the Forum revealed on its web portal.

Stoking the flames of controversy was a laundry list of an alleged 37 persons floating on social media that President Weah was purported to be travelling with to France for the Forum, a list that technically included the gender minister as the only professional qualified female Liberian participant.

Although the Executive Mansion would later proffer a statement on President Weah’s travel to France, stating that President Weah will travel with a team of less than 10 persons to address the forum where he would be calling on the world to make concrete, ambitious and sustainable commitments towards achieving gender equality; informed sources have confided to this paper that President Weah is not mentioned at all among the list of dignitaries slated to address the Forum.

According to the website itinerary of notable attendees in-persons expected to the address the Forum are Hliary Clinton, former US Secretary of State; Kamala Harris, Vice President of the US; Uhuryu Kenyatta, President of Kenya; Alberto Fernandez, President of Argentina; Angela Merke, Germany’s Chancellor;  Kais Saied, President of Tunisia along with others including Melinda Gates, Co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank; Mari Pangestu, Managing Director of the World Bank; Nadia Murad, Nobel Peace Prize laureate;  Darren Walker, President of Ford Foundation; Alice P. Albright, Executive Director of the Global Partnership for Education, and Julieta Martinez, Feminist climate activist.

Public Reaction

“If this is true, honestly this is wrong. This is to be condemned by everyone including supporter of the government. Under these circumstances a conscious president will set aside all travels to deal with the pandemic. This gathering is not important than showing leadership during this time of national emergency. Mr. Weah, straighten up and fly right,” laments a concerned Liberian, Mr. Roosevelt Gould.

“We should as well just sell the dam place, and everybody get their cut. This is madness if true. These guys are heartless,” maintains George Wah Taplah, a concerned Liberian resident in Bangui, Central African Republic.

“Oh! So, these guys are taking us for joke. I seriously believe that Weah went to France only to jolly-jolly while his people die of Corona in Liberia,” says Jefferson Meahway of Ganta.

Exiled activist Martin K.N. Kollie is meanwhile laughing off the entire episode.

“I just applied to the Generation Equality Forum, and I instantly got my invitation. Like President Weah, I too will be participating in this Conference.

I will ask GMW just one question on Gender as a participant of GEF. You too can quickly register to participate. It is free and it won’t even take you 30 seconds,” mused activist Kollie, urging Liberians to click on https://forumgenerationegalite.fr/en/get-involved/register.

Although all efforts to contact the Ministry of Information for official response proved futile up to press time, unconfirmed government sources have hinted The Analyst that President Weah’s trip to France might definitely yield positive, unsuspected benefits, as the Liberian leader is expected to personally fly into the country with tons of materials to combat the deadly COVID-19 virus.

Confirming this information to the Analyst source, diplomatic sources have hinted that the French Government is in the position to grant Liberia with 40,000 antigenic tests (Abbott « Panbio COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test Device »). Several months of validity, a priori until the end of 2021. The assistance will also include four Osiris3 transport respirators (with a reserve of consumables for Osiris3).

“The total weight and volume of this assistance is 1172 Kg and 7,8 M3. (tests : 1120 kg and 7,2 M3 + Osiris respirators and consumables : 52 Kg et 0,6 M3),” a communication exchanged recently between French and Liberian diplomats stated, acknowledging that President Weah is expected to return to Liberia with the goodies to fight the 3rd wave of COVID in Liberia.

The source further noted that if President Weah cannot travel to Liberia with the vaccine consignment, the French government will immediately arrange a special flight.

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