Monrovia – Senator George Weah has denied rumors that Robert Sirleaf, third son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is a member of the Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC).
Speaking Sunday in an interview with James Butty, of VOA Daybreak Africa, Weah denied reports that President Sirleaf is financing his campaign in exchange for some promises including supporting her son in his bid to become senator of Montserrado, if Weah is successful in his Presidential bid.
Weah said he and Robert Sirleaf are friends, but there is no deal supporting Robert Sirleaf’s senatorial bid.
“If Robert Sirleaf was in my party, CDC, and he goes through a convention, and he is qualified to be on our ticket, definitely as the political leader, that’s my candidate. I will be telling people to vote for him. But he’s not in my party.’’
In the interview, Weah spoke to Butty about a range of issues including his relationship with Charles Taylor, allegations made by war-crimes prosecutor Alan White about a possible deal between President Sirleaf and the CDC, the legal stalemate over the 2017 Presidential elections and is prospects for winning presidency.
‘My chances are very high,’’ he said of becoming Liberia’s 25th President. ‘I said it before I came into this race, and I’m saying it again, ‘Mr. Boakai cannot defeat me, and no one, no one.”
Here is the full text of the interview:
JAMES: Ambassador Weah, first of all good morning to you and welcome to Daybreak Africa.
WEAH: Thank you for having me.
JAMES: Let’s get started, I’m sure you watched the VOA Straight Talk Africa television program. Mr. Alain White, one of the guests on the program said that there is a concern that you, because you have been in touch with former Liberian President Charles Taylor, whom he described as a war criminal, that you might bring Taylor back to Liberia if you win the presidency. What is your comment?
WEAH: Well James, for me, I think it’s a mere propaganda. It has no truth to it, and it’s all a fallacy.
This is a man that is working for other political enemies here in Liberia, interfering with our politics and making lots of loose talks, you know, a lot of allegations that even he himself cannot even tell whether it is true or not. It’s very difficult for himself to tell you that it is true because, according to him, he is assuming or someone said. And so, all these things are a mere propaganda.
JAMES: Ambassador Weah, you said that you think Alain White is working for your opponents. Do you have any proof?
WEAH: I am not thinking. I know that he is working for some political parties here. He call himself a lobbyist. You know, I met Allan White when we started the CDC (Congress for Democratic Change).
You know, Richelieu Urey and Alexander Wampo brought him and said that he is a lobbyist, and he signed a contract with the CDC. You know that was my first encounter with him. He could not do the work and CDC broke the contract, and he asked for indemnity and CDC paid him, and that was it. That’s the last time I heard about Mr. Alain White.
JAMES: What do you say to Mr. White and the ordinary Liberian voter who might have a concern about the fact that you have spoken with former President Charles Taylor?
WEAH: What I will say to the Liberian voter, I mean, I said before. After my declaration, someone was on the phone close by me and I’m sure Mr. Taylor heard the voice and he asked who was there, and he said it was Senator Weah and I said, Hi.
That was it. And this is not my first time saying this. But that doesn’t becoming of freeing Charles Taylor from prison. You know I know, even the Alain White knows, he claims to be an investigator. He knows that Charles Taylor is monitored; he knows that I have no power to bring Charles Taylor back. He knows that. So, as I said, it’s a mere propaganda. It’s all fallacy.
JAMES: Another issue that came out of the Straight Talk Africa program, and let me ask you this: Did you make a deal with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that if she can support your candidacy, that a President George Weah would appoint her son, Robert Sirleaf, to succeed you as Senator of Montserrado County?
WEAH: Well, I listened to that, but again, the person that stated that said, he is not sure. And so you’re asking me to answer to a mere propaganda and gossip. But at the same time, Mr. Butty, you realize that I don’t appoint people to this position. It’s an elected position. Everyone that becomes a Senator in Liberia was elected by the Liberian people. It’s not an appointed job. So, there is no way you can make a deal.
That’s not possible. But again, you must know that Robert Sirleaf has a constitutional right. He’s a Liberian. If Robert Sirleaf was in my party, CDC and he goes through the rank and file, through a convention, and he is qualified to be on our ticket, definitely, as a political leader, that’s the candidate I will be telling people to vote for. But he’s not in my party. So, it’s far from reality.
Besides that, why would I make a deal with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to support me and then I support her son? You monitored the senatorial race here. There are lots of Liberians that admired Robert Sirleaf that even went against me because they believed that Robert Sirleaf was the best (person).
That’s the candidate they were carrying. I was able to convince my people from Montserrado County to say I was the best choice. But he has his own followers. So, anytime he goes in a race, he has people that will be voting for him. So I don’t need to make a deal. I haven't sat down with Madam Sirleaf to make a deal.
Those who are trying to link me with Madam Sirleaf, yes, I have a friendship and I have a respect for Madam Sirleaf. You know, as I said, I will never, ever disrespect the sitting President of the Republic of Liberia because one day, if I become President in this country I will not want for anyone to disrespect me.
She’s our President and we must respect her. And those that are carrying the news and are trying to link me with Madam Sirleaf, I have respect for her; I worked with her before as Peace Ambassador and I work in the government as a Senator, and I respect the President of the Republic.
JAMES: So do you think there those who are trying to disrespect the President?
WEAH: Well, I believe so. Those that are trying to put lies and false allegations, they are disrespecting the President of the Republic because if you are saying to people that she’s not honest and she’s corrupt, then that’s disrespect.
JAMES: So does the President support your candidacy?
WEAH: Well, I said, no. Madam Sirleaf is a partisan of the Unity Party and I am a partisan of the Coalition for Democratic Change. So, I will not suggest that she’s supporting me. She is supporting her political party, and that’s it.
JAMES: Let me ask you, Ambassador Weah. What do you make of the prevailing electoral dispute? As you know four political parties, including the ruling Unity Party of have challenged the results of the October 10 first round Presidential election.
WEAH: Well, some political claims that they were cheated and have challenged it in court, and we are following the process; and we’re hoping that it will come to a point where the court will make a decision. We as political parties, we were told that we are going to the second round of this election, and we are preparing. We continue to let our people know that we will go to the second round and we are waiting for the verdict.
But I am confident that the Supreme Court will do everything to allow the process to come to a point because Liberians are resolved; they are waiting for us to go the second round.
And Liberians want to choose their leader. We are all waiting. In meantime, we are keeping our country safe; we are telling our people to be stable, to be peaceful; to continue to be peaceful.
JAMES: Some people have suggested that the reason for the challenge is to create confusion and delay the electoral process so that eventually there will be an interim government. What do you think?
WEAH: Well, I think it’s far from reality. I mean there is no war in this country. I think we have passed the state of an interim government. We went through war; we came to an interim government; we passed that stage.
We came to the democratic process. Now we have a government in place. We are expecting a transition because the government in place will soon be leaving, Madam Sirleaf will soon be going, and she will be turning over to a newly elected democratic leader that will continue the government.
We are far from an interim government. Those days are over. I don’t see why people will even thinking in their heads that there will be an interim government. There is no way.
JAMES: Before I let you go, Ambassador Weah, you or your party has run for the presidency of Liberia for three consecutive times now. What do you think are your chances in this race, for you or your party?
WEAH: Mr. Butty, I came into this race, you know, I spoke to my people. My people are resolved; my well-wishers, sympathizers and the Liberian people are resolved. You know, they believe that I am a good person; I have a big heart and know I can develop this country and I can make the change.
This is why they voted for me in the first round, and they are prepared and resolved to vote for me whenever they tell us that we are going to the second round.
You know, people that have no history of going to first or second round, they are claiming that they won these elections and they were cheated and what have you. But Mr. Butty, let me remind you. In 2005 I spoke to you. I won the first round and then we went to the second round. In 2011, I spoke on your station.
What I have done in this country, I have kept the peace for 12 years. Those who are claiming today, even the ruling Unity Party, Mr. Boakai that joined those who are all complaining, Mr. Boakai is a complete, direct beneficiary of fraud in this country. So it’s so disheartening to see that he is claiming that he’s convinced that there was fraud and what have you. Well, it was a process we went through.
If there is a fraud, the process is on and then the court will make that judgment. But whether we will do a re-run, we will go to a second round, or third round, or fourth found or fifth round, Mr. Boakai will be beaten; the Unity Party will be retired and a new government will come in place.
Liberians are resolved and we will win the election. My chances are very high. I said it before I came into this race, and I’m saying it again, Mr. Boakai cannot defeat me. And no one, no one.