President George Manneh Weah: Person of the Year 2023

MONROVIA: The expiry of 2023 into the dustbin of history is not as cool as many may think. It wasn’t a walk into the park. In many countries and regions, the year took with it seas of tears, blood and sweat. It took lives, joys, properties and infrastructure. For other countries and regions, the legacy of 2023 is war, conflict, instability and insecurity. But Liberia prevailed, though it could have been consumed that those unfortunate conditions, due to the high risk posed by exogenous factors including global financial conditions and due to the holding of a high-stake elections during that year. There is one person of all persons who mustered the political will, conquered egos and kept the nation peaceful politically and democratically and stable economically and socially. That person is President George Manneh Weah, The Analyst’s Personality of the Year.

Liberia surviving the 12 months, or 365 days or 52 weeks of 2023 without incident was not a walk in the park. The risks were very high.  Wars and conflicts around the world, majorly the Russo-Ukraine war, shrunk world economies and international trades, and inflation crippled several developing countries. Elections in many countries failed to harness democracy; they averted democracies. Results from elections rather produced pretexts to military hostilities spurring chaos and carnage.

The Socioeconomic Personality 2023

One evidence of President Weah’s demonstrated leadership is that his administration was able to fund the National Elections Commission to conduct the 2023 general and presidential elections and the runoff polls exclusively without the traditional lavish support of the international community.

It can be recalled that most of Liberia’s elections during the civil conflict, specifically the 1897 elections, and all three elections before President Weah took office in 2018, the independent international community provided logistic, cash, technical and other supports.

But in 2023, all was left with the Government. It is estimated conservatively that Government expended nearly US$150 million in cash and logistics to afford the NEC carry out the electoral process.

Despite that weightlifting endeavor, all other normal governmental obligations were executed during the same year including regular and timely payment of civil servants’ salaries, in addition to undertaking many road, health and education projects.

Banking and financial services were conducted smoothly during the year, despite the pressure that comes with electoral politics and mass movement of people in and out of the country.

The economic situations that prevailed in 2023 contrasts with the year of advent, 2018, when inflation towered over 30 percent, and banks could hardly cash out deposits and when essential goods were a luxury.

Besides the economic success of the President during such a potentially turbulent year, he made history conducting one of the hotly contested general and presidential elections in the country, putting up the rare attitude of tolerance and humility in defeat.

The Political Personality 2023

Liberia has made yet another record of recording peaceful, transparent and fair elections. When praises for such a feat comes, it largely goes or should go more to the incumbent President who literally demonstrated extreme tolerance and leadership to make it happen.

At the onset of the year, even several years before that, many had thought that Liberia would be reverting to war and conflict was a high possibility. It was said that President Weah did not have the acumen and temperate to conduct a peaceful and fair election.

No doubt, the elections of 2023 fanned the flames of  acrimonies and division in the country; the stakes were high as were also the emotions that came with it.

A lot of Liberians predicted looming doom in 2023. There were politicians who declared that the country would be nonexistent if the elections were not fair; certainly “fair” from their own definition.

Yet, despite the grimly determined protagonists who contested the elections, whether presidential and legislative, the country sailed unscathed, which is why the year came to an end without incident.

No well-meaning Liberian, or a friend of Liberia, can celebrate this feat without mentioning or referencing the incumbent President, George Weah, who can be described safely as a prime catalyst.

There certainly were those who were in search for pretext to unleash their venoms, where there any semblance of electoral fraud. There were reports some had fetched and amassed deadly hardware to launch their “liberation struggles” and keep the country balkanized had there be any eventuality.

But with all the naysaying and prophesy of doom, and actual preparedness on the part of some to cause trouble, things came out smoothly and joyously. All this because someone—President George Manneh Weah—showed statesmanship, demonstrated leadership and meekness.

As an incumbent and a contestant, who faced and endured opposition insults and defiance, and given the “razor thin” results, President Weah could have chosen to do otherwise. Not all Liberian incumbent leaders would let it go, as far as history is concerned. But even despite pressure from followers and advisors, he ignored egos and raised the white flag.

The nation owes it to him. Grateful Liberians can admit to the fact that President Weah did quite well in sustaining a space for peaceful coexistence, for pluralistic democratic interplay and stability and harmony.

During his tenure, and as was seen during 2023 elections, he has been quite tolerant to dissents crowned by his enactment and signing into the law of the Kamara A. Kamara Bill which decriminalizes free speech–quite a significant move to ensure greater democracy and freedom.

With guns and conflicts silent for the period of his administration and particularly during the 2023 elections, he once again made Liberia proud. The country is setting an exemplary democratic credential on the continent of Africa where sustained democracy is a luxury.

Indeed, 2023 was a major test—a serious prism that was poised to bring out the genuineness and honesty of the character of the sitting president as a true leader, an avid democrat and obsessive Liberian patriot. And he passed that test.

This is why the President is Our 2023 Personality.

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