MONROVIA : As the nation looks forward to the government and stakeholders to make the ensuing general elections to meet international best practice, President George Manneh Weah has said that his pledge to the Liberian people and the international community about the process and outcome to be credible, free, fair and transparent remains unchanged as part of his cardinal responsibilities as leader of the nation just as he sent out a clarion call on all Liberians to collectively support all efforts in the crucial democratic undertaking of the country.
President Weah made the assertion on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 when he delivered his Independence Message to the nation at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion, in Monrovia on the occasion of the 176th anniversary of Liberia in the presence of other African leaders, foreign diplomats, an array of government officials, business community, other distinguished guests, civil society organizations, religious leaders, among others.
The President told the gathering that the theme of this year’s celebration, “Giving Our People Hope For A Violence Free, Fair, Transparent and Inclusive And Credible Elections” has served as a reminder to the nation on the need to uphold the constitution and that he had pledged to do on his ascendency to the Presidency in 2018, a vow which he said remains unchanged.
“The theme of this year’s celebration, “Giving Our People Hope For A Violence Free, Fair, Transparent and Inclusive And Credible Elections”, has served us notice about our Constitution and our duty to uphold it. We must remember that the adoption of the Declaration of Independence was done simultaneously with the first Constitution of Liberia. In this regard, the Anniversary of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution constitutes Independence Day.
“When I took the oath of office as President of this Republic, I pledged to uphold and defend the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia to the best of my ability. As law-abiding citizens, you have also pledged similar allegiance to the country on various occasions. Together, we have a collective duty and obligation to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution. The theme of this year’s celebration is therefore a reminder for us to do our duty to our country and our God.
“It is interesting to note that today marks the final Independence Day celebration of my first mandate as President of Liberia, and the last before the holding of General and Presidential Elections in the next few months. As I seek to be returned for a second mandate, I am focused on sparing no energy in ensuring that the interest of the Liberian people is served, and that their will is done”, he said.
He reminded the audience of the commitment he attaches to deepening the thrust of democratic governance in the country when he joined other stakeholders recently to sign the Farmington Declaration,” which imposes on us the obligation to make the environment violence-free and to work together to ensure that the ensuing elections are free, fair, transparent, and inclusive”.
“Today, I reiterate, with renewed resolve, my commitment to patriotically discharge the responsibilities imposed on me as your leader, in the promotion and preservation of the fundamental rights and freedoms that are guaranteed by the Constitution, and to strive to create an atmosphere that is conducive to the free and unrestricted right to exercise your franchise in a peaceful, transparent, and inclusive process. I promise that the conduct of the October 10th General and Presidential Elections will be credible, and will meet all national and international standards”.
He said though as the “Chief Executive Administrator” of the nation, the success of the promises on the elections does not rest on him alone but “the inclusiveness of this exercise requires the full and committed participation of all our citizens and friendly partners”, adding, “above all, it requires the unreserved commitment of those political stakeholders who are vying for positions in these forthcoming elections, as well as their followers”. He said it should be understood that, while the individual and collective political interests are uppermost, those desires should not be put above the interest and general well-being of the country, which is indeed the collective interest of all.
“After long and bitter years in the wilderness of anarchy, we should know the value of peace. I am happy that since August 18, 2003, when leaders of various factions and interests made a solemn affirmation to end violence by signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Accra, Ghana, Liberians have demonstrated their resolve never to resort to violence or go to war to settle their grievances. All leaders since then, including me, have upheld the pledge to uphold the peace and keep our country stable and progressive.
“I call on our citizens to be proud of themselves and their country – to be proud of preserving the sovereignty and cohesive integrity of Africa’s first and oldest republic. Many thanks also go to our friends, partners, and foreign residents for assisting us to uphold and defend our sovereignty.
“Our combined fortitude and patriotic commitment are an inspiration of hope for the future of a Liberia that will rise and remain a bastion of positive history in Africa and the world”, he said.
The State Chief Executive historicized the upheavals in Liberia’s history that shocked the foundation of the nation, especially the brutal civil war and said despite all the challenges, the citizens have moved on with a common purpose as a united people.
“As we stand here today, we cannot ignore the shadows cast by the checkered past of our nation, particularly the dark chapter of the civil war that destroyed our beloved land for 15 long and painful years. We remember the lives lost and the countless families torn apart, with over a quarter of a million Liberians perishing, and more than 1.5 million displaced, both at home and abroad. It is a stark reminder of the cost of division and discord.
“Yet, amidst the ruins of that time, we have persevered, united by a common purpose and an unwavering determination to rebuild our nation. We have proven that what unites us as Liberians is far stronger than what divides us.
“Today, we celebrate not just the anniversary of our independence but also the resilience of our people who, through all challenges, have clung to the hope of a united and prosperous Liberia”, President Weah said.
The President also used the occasion to congratulate Chief Zanzan Kawor, Chairman of the Council of Chiefs and Elders for the “the beautiful oration he delivered today”, and said his selection to serve as National Orator was in honor and respect to the Traditional Chiefs and Zoe’s of the country.
“I am sure that his message has resonated with all Liberians, as it did with me, and that it will have a meaningful impact on our unity, our peace, and our forward progress. It is also my hope that the message in today’s oration will inspire us to re-examine ourselves and continue relentlessly in our pursuit of national reconciliation”, he said.
He also appreciated his colleagues from the subregion, Presidents Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Adama Barrow of Ghana and Gambia respectively as well as the Speaker and some members of the ECOWAS Parliament and distinguished representatives of the African Union for honoring his invitation to attend the historic occasion.
The colorful program which is the sixth and the last occasion of such magnitude during the mandatory six year tenure of President Weah was attended by his wife, Mrs. Clar Duncan Weah, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, Speaker Bhofal Chambers, President Pro Tempore of the Senate and members of the national legislature, the Chief Justice and members of the Supreme Court, Cabinet ministers, members of the Diplomatic Corps, among others.