Liberian President-Elect Weah Tempers Expectations, Plans Agriculture Push
Liberian President-elect George Weah on Tuesday set modest goals for his six-year term, calling for Liberia to start exporting crops and repairing decrepit infrastructure, in his first interview since winning election last week.
Weah rode a wave of youth support to capture more than 60 percent of the vote in last Tuesday’s run-off, but he will need to manage expectations as he attempts to revive one of Africa’s worst-performing economies.
Later this month, he will replace President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, in Liberia’s first democratic transfer of power since 1944.
Seated outside his unfinished new house on a quiet dirt backstreet near the capital Monrovia, where a concrete sign announces, “Friends of Weah say welcome”, the 51-year-old ex-soccer star began to tentatively fill in some of the gaps in his vague campaign promises.
“I want for us to be self-sustained so we can export,” he said, appearing at ease in a dark blue dress shirt and gold watch. “The government has a responsibility to have agricultural programs so people are able to grow their own food.”
“Ghana exports, our neighboring countries export – we have the capacity to export,” he continued. “They export and we can do the same.”
Liberia spent years recovering from civil wars from 1989-2003 that killed hundreds of thousands of people and then was hit more recently by low prices for its chief exports, iron ore and rubber, and an Ebola outbreak from 2014-16.