President Weah Gives First UN Address

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Monrovia, Liberia- The President of Liberia, His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah on Wednesday, addressed the 73rd gathering of the United Nations General Assembly.

President Weah begun his speech by congratulating Ms. Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, President of Ecuador on her election as President of the United Nations 73rd General Assembly, and pointed out that Liberia takes a special note in recognizing her as the fourth woman President of the General Assembly. He also thanked the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres for his level of farsighted leadership in strengthening the United Nations. Dr. Weah then paid tribute to the late Koffi Annan who served the United Nations as Secretary General, and spoke of his his contribution to global peace.

On Liberian affairs, President George Weah highlighted the 2017 General Elections, and informed the body that the elections of 2017 marked the first democratic peaceful transfer of power in Liberia for the last 73 years. He said, after the announcement of the results of the run-off election, it was clear that Liberians wanted a youthful leadership and made a statement of change, as well as transformation. The President said, the weight to transform Liberia was bestowed upon him after he was inaugurated in January 2018, and identified the enormous challenges he had at hand. However, the Liberian head of state acknowledged “opportunities to make things better and to bring permanent improvements to the lives of all Liberians”.

Speaking about his developmental agenda, President George Weah introduced his government’s Pro-Poor agenda, and informed the General Assembly, that it is his tool for development and prosperity for the next five years. Meanwhile, the President clarified that his developmental agenda is not intended to benefit only the poor. “It is a policy framework that gives priority to the alleviation of poverty and its core objective and focus, is to reduce the marginalization of the most vulnerable, whilst the same time creating a conducive atmosphere for middle and upper income Liberians to grow and prosper”, President Weah added. President Weah said, his pro-poor agenda  is intended to create a harmonious environment for economic empowerment, and give power to the people; and also appealed to international partners to support his agenda.

In the meantime, President Weah identified achievements his government has made since it came to power. President Weah told the General Assembly that in a quest to reduce the vulnerability of Liberia’s youthful population, his government has invested in technical and vocational education and training programs to build their entrepreneurial and marketable skills. As it relates to infrastructural, social and economic developments, the President said, his government has identified investments in Roads, Energy and Ports as its priority, and also made a public statement of funds solicitation to meet his government’s goals. In addition to roads, energy and ports, President Weah also identified Agriculture and Manufacturing as major poverty alleviation instruments, and informed the body that his government looks forward to improving Liberia’s health sector, making specific reference to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in the country.

The Liberian President acknowledged the impact of the United Nations in making Liberia stable, and thanked the World Body for all of its peace efforts in Liberia. He said Liberia has finally turned its focus toward peace, making reference to the Accra Peace Agreement, but however pointed out its fragile state. President Weah said, the scars of Liberia’s conflict are still present in the country, and stated the importance of initiating dialogues at the local level, which would take the youth population into account, for the purpose of not repeating the country’s dark past.

“It is clear to me, that these frank exchanges are essential steps in bringing lasting healing, and reconciliation to our people. Our agenda is not one of division, but rather, it is an agenda that intends to provide an enabling environment for unity, and reconcile people to be able to benefit and prosper from the economic dividends of peace”, the Liberian President said.

President Weah reminded the body of his time as UNICEF peace ambassador and said, he enjoyed his service with the organization and values the principles of the United Nations.

In closing, President Weah reaffirmed Liberia’s support to the work of the UN in achieving global peace, counter-terrorism, UN reform, security, good governance, and advancement for the principle of Universal human rights. “We further reiterate our commitment to the rule of law, the alleviation of poverty, gender equality, the elimination of gender based violence and empowerment of women, girls, and young people”, the President added.

Dr. Weah said, he remains committed to ending corruption in public service, and said, assistance of the United Nations and International Partners will help Liberia to a great extent in lifting its people from poverty to prosperity.

Liberians all around the world have been reacting to the President’s speech. Few Liberians who spoke to the Liberian Billboard said, the President speech was excellent and stated all of the country’s need to the world body. They expressed hope in his statement that he is committed to fighting corruption, and told our correspondents that he should start with the missing L$16 billion issue.