George Weah

Liberian activist detained in Sierra Leone

Liberian minister explains why a critic of President Weah is detained in Sierra Leone
A Liberian activist and journalist is currently detained in Sierra Leone, amid allegations of travelling with fake documents. Henry Costa, chairman of the Council of Patriots, is a fierce critic of Liberian president George Weah and that's why he thinks he's been detained. Liberia's Minister of Information, Lenn Nagbe told Newsday how Mr Costa ended up in Sierra Leone.

(Picture: Henry Costa in Monrovia in December, 2019; Credit; AFP)

Thousands protest against George Weah in Liberia

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

Yekkeh Kolubah (C), parliamentarian and leading member of the Council of Patriots(COP) march a during protest at the Capital Hill in Monrovia, Liberia, 06 January 2020
The opposition is demanding greater financial accountability

Thousands of people have marched through the streets of the Liberian capital, Monrovia, to protest against President George Weah's handling of the economy - which has seen spiralling inflation.

The demonstrators want Mr Weah to say what happened to $25m (£19m) that the government withdrew from the country's Federal Reserve Account in 2018 in an effort to stabilise the economy.

They have also called on the former football star to declare his assets before and after he became president two years ago.

Mr Weah has accused opposition politicians of organising the demonstration and he called on them to focus instead on creating jobs.

See earlier post

Protest against George Weah in Liberia

Jonathan Paye-Layleh

BBC Africa, Monrovia

George Weah speaks during an intercessory prayer service at the central mosques in Monrovia, as part of events marking the official inauguration ceremony of Liberia"s president elect, George Weah in Monrovia, Liberia, 19 January 2018
George Weah denies that power has got to his head

A protest against Liberia's President George Weah has started in the capital, Monrovia.

The first group of banner-carrying protesters walked through police roadblocks to assemble on Capitol Hill, the seat of power. The crowd swelled, as more protesters entered.

Dozens of riot police have been deployed, but they have not interfered. The government had given an assurance that it would provide security for protesters.

Among other demands, the demonstrators want Mr Weah - a former football star who became president in January 2018 - to publish a list of his assets before and after he became president. They also want the president to say what happened to the $25m (£19m) the government withdrew from the Federal Reserve Account in 2018 that was supposed to stabilise the economy.

Even though it is still too early to make conclusions, businesses in parts of central Monrovia were closed on Monday morning with deserted roads.

Many civil servants stayed away from work and some parents kept their children away from school, even though the ministry of education had announced that schools were reopening following the festive season.

Liberians spent Christmas and the New Year largely at home because of the lack of money.

In a rare state radio interview days before the protest, President Weah said he did not see any need for such a gathering.

“We don’t want unrest here, the country has a potential to gain growth,” he said.

He accused opposition politicians, who lost to him in the presidential election in December 2017, of organising the demonstration.

“They’re sitting [at] home to plan protests, no, they should be trying to create jobs, they should be trying to be innovative, they should be trying to be entrepreneurs,” Mr Weah said.

He rejected criticism that power has gone to his head or that he has become intolerant of criticism.

“This is not a tyrannic government,” Mr Weah said.

“This is a democratic form of government [in which] everyone has their right to operate in the country but respect civil liberty so that other people can feel comfortable to do business,” he added.

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George Weah: Reshuffle like substituting players

Jonathan Paye-Layleh

BBC News, Monrovia

George Weah
The footballer-turned-president also told state radio he'll seek a second term in 2023

Liberia's President George Weah says a forthcoming cabinet reshuffle won't involve hiring and firing ministers but will be more like switching players around on a football pitch.

"You can take a player from number 6 wing and put him to number 8 - nothing wrong with that," the former Fifa Player of the Year told state radio.

If any ministers are removed it will only be on a temporary basis - like the subs bench in football:

Those that are having problems on the field, they could come on the bench to re-evaluate them - so when they come back on the team they can play better."

"My desire is for all my cabinet ministers to work diligently for the Liberian people," President Weah said in the broadcast which was relayed by private radio stations across the capital, Monrovia.

"I did not put them there to, every second, harass them."

Critics of the 53-year-old say his government has performed dismally because he puts friendship above performance and qualification.

Some argue that, just as when he was captain of the national team and had to make some tough decisions on players to win his matches, he should examine and shake up his cabinet to gain the needed results.

Mr Weah also used the broadcast to state he's intent on running again in 2023.

Day of mourning declared after Liberia fire

A view of the aftermath of a fire inside an Islamic boarding school in Paynesville, outside Monrovia, Liberia

Liberia’s President George Weah has declared Thursday a national day of mourning following a deadly fire at a boarding school in the country.

The fire on Wednesday left at least 27 people dead, many of them children.

"This is an extremely difficult moment, not only for the bereaved families but also for us all as a country," the president said in a statement.

He added: "We must be united in good times as well as in difficult times."

The fire is believed to have broken out in the early hours of the morning, when the Koranic school students were sleeping in a building near to their mosque.

Police spokesman Moses Carter told AFP news agency that the blaze may have been caused by an electrical fault, but he also refused to rule out the possibility of arson.

Investigations into the cause of the deadly fire are continuing.

Anti-George Weah protesters arrested in Liberia

Jonathan Paye-Layleh

BBC Africa, Monrovia

George WEah
The former Fifa World Player of the Year became president in 2018

About 15 people have been arrested in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, for defying a government order not to take to the streets to protest against former international football star and President George Weah.

The group insisted on breaking through police lines to assemble, despite the fact that no permit had been issued to stage a protest, police added.

The group apparently did not know that organisers had temporarily halted plans to stage a protest against the rising cost of living and alleged corruption in government.

Read: The president no-one dares to tackle