In his first State of the Republic address since becoming president just over a week ago, the former football star and new Liberia’s president George Weah has laid bare the state of affairs his administration has inherited from former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. His government is basically in the driving seat, running on empty.
“The state of the economy that my administration has inherited, leaves a lot to be desired,” he stated in a 3666 word speech from which he extensively quoted the country’s constitution as his “principal guide for leadership and governance” as he takes the fragile country into a new direction.
“ Our economy is broken, our government is broke, our currency is in free-fall, inflation is rising, unemployment is at an unprecedented high, and our foreign reserves are at an all-time low,” he lamented in a speech in which he also announced he would be removing an old discriminatory law on citizenship, which he believes is “racist” and against progress.
“Urgent and imperative agenda is to remove the law that limits citizenship in Liberia to Black people only… it is my view that keeping such a clause in our constitution is unnecessary, racist, and inappropriate for the place that Liberia occupies today,” he said reminding Liberians that the country “is open for business,” but law impedes economic progress.
“The framers of the 1847 constitution may have had every reason and justification to include these restrictions…This may have been appropriate for the 19th century, and for the threats and conditions that existed at that time. However, here in the 21st century, I am of the view that these threats no longer exist, and that these conditions have changed.”
He also questioned and said he would change the other article within the same law – one which restrict land ownership exclusively to Liberian citizens only.
“[this tends] to impede our progress and stunt our growth and development…no foreign investor – in fact, not any investor – will be willing to make significant direct investments in our country if they cannot own property..[and] direct investments placed on leased properties are virtually unbankable…[this] is inconsistent with my pronouncement that “Liberia is open for business,”
He concluded his address announcing that he will take an immediate pay cut of his presidential salary: “In view of the very rapidly deteriorating situation of the economy, I am informing you today, with immediate effect, that I will reduce my salary and benefits by 25 per cent…I believe that it is appropriate that we should all make sacrifices in the interest of our country.”
You can read the full speech here