Monrovia (AFP) As UN peacekeepers leave Liberia after 14 years, headway in reforming the security forces is being undermined by lack of progress in tackling the country’s traumatic legacy of war crimes, officials say. Liberia’s 1989-2003 conflict killed around a quarter of a million people, while government forces and rebel groups murdered, maimed and raped with impunity. The UN mission, known as UNMIL, was deployed in September 2003 as the highly politicised army and police were disbanded after committing some of the worst abuses. The effort to protect Liberians afterRead More
Monrovia (AFP) Liberia’s new leader, ex-football player George Weah, on Monday lent the number from his national team jersey to a military hospital as he unveiled the first major project of his presidency. The “14 military hospital” will primarily care for Liberian soldiers returning from peacekeeping missions abroad, who are currently obliged to seek treatment in foreign countries due to a lack of specialised facilities. “The number 14 was the number on my back playing for the Lone Stars (national team). The number is now attached to this important newRead More
Monrovia (AFP) The UN’s rapporteur on freedom of expression on Friday called Liberia and its newly-elected president George Weah to build on the country’s gains in press freedom and transparency. Former football star Weah, who succeeded Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman elected head of state in Africa, promised in his inaugural speech in January a more transparent state. Weah said Liberia owed its citizens “freedom of expression and the sharing of resources and responsibilities” in his address to the nation. UN rapporteur David Kaye told a press conference inRead More
Gbah (Liberia) (AFP) Morris Kidir gestures at a wide expanse of dark-green land he says was earmarked for a school or clinic in his northern Liberian village, now covered in young oil palm trees. In October last year, he recalls, workers from Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby arrived at the plot and began filling in the only gap left in a forest of palms that stretch as far as the eye can see. Kidir, an elder in the village of Gbah, Bomi county, is on the front line of a nationalRead More
Monrovia (AFP) Liberian President George Weah said Monday he would seek to remove a “racist” clause in the country’s constitution that restricts citizenship to black people, and pledged to take a pay cut in a dire economy. Liberia was founded by freed slaves from the United States in 1847, who inserted the requirement into the constitution to create “a refuge and a haven for freed men of colour”. Weah said in his first state of the nation address that he believed this restriction was “unnecessary, racist, and inappropriate for theRead More
Monrovia (AFP) Liberian President George Weah filled the vast majority of remaining cabinet seats on Saturday while controversy grew over allegations of past criminal behaviour by his justice minister. Weah gave posts to a mixture of inexperienced but loyal figures from his Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party, along with some key members held over from the former government, according to names released in an official statement. Newly appointed interior minister Varney Sirleaf is a stepson of former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and previously served as deputy minister, while herRead More
Monrovia (AFP) New President George Weah is nothing less than revered among Liberia’s youth, who view his rise from the slums to stellar success in European football as proof he can also turn around their fragile economy. In his inaugural address on Monday, Weah thanked young voters for propelling him to power, telling them: “This is your government.” But depressed commodity prices, an inexperienced administration and a straitened budget could cloud their dreams and stir resentment, experts caution. “We know that change will come,” said Peter Forkpah, an unemployed manRead More
Monrovia (AFP) New Liberian President George Weah has appointed the first members of his cabinet, all of them men, largely naming party allies but picking a foreign minister close to former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Ex-international footballer Weah was sworn in on Monday at a stadium surrounded by ecstatic supporters, and filled some key ministerial posts later the same day. In his inaugural speech, Weah vowed to crack down on entrenched corruption and encourage the private sector. But the picks from his party come from outside the establishment and doRead More
Monrovia (AFP) George Weah emerged from Liberia’s slums to become a superstar footballer in the 1990s, and has spent the last 13 years building political credibility to match his status as a sporting icon. Weah, 51, put education, job creation and infrastructure at the centre of his policy platform to beat outgoing Vice President Joseph Boakai to the presidency, and expectations are sky-high he will deliver for the country’s youthful population. “I am a human being, I strive to be excellent, and I can be successful,” Weah told journalists aheadRead More
Monrovia (AFP) To the cheers of a crowd fired by his promise to bring them jobs and prosperity, former football star George Weah was sworn in as president of Liberia on Monday, completing the country’s first transition between democratically-elected leaders in three generations. Weah, 51, takes over from Nobel laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who over 12 years steered the country away from the trauma of a civil war but failed to ease dire poverty. “I have spent many years of my life in stadiums, but today is a feeling likeRead More