The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has hailed the peaceful transition of power in Liberia as a significant milestone for the consolidation of democracy in West Africa and on the African continent as a whole.
“For us in West Africa, I think that it is a sign that democratic consolidation that so many of us are seeking is in fact taking place and that democracy is gradually being entrenched stronger and stronger in the body politic of our different states,” he said.
The President made these statements after he joined other heads of states to grace the swearing-in ceremony of Mr George Manneh Oppong Weah as President of Liberia at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Monrovia yesterday.
Ghana made a strong representation, comprising former presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John Dramani Mahama, together with government officials and some key members of the opposition National Democratic Congress.
Ghana’s ambassador to Liberia, Ernest B. Asare-Aseidu has described the composition of the Ghanaian delegation to the event as a feather in the cup of Ghana’s democratic credentials.
The 35,000-capacity of the Samuel Doe Stadium was filled to capacity in the early hours of Monday as Liberians of all walks of life gathered to witness the historic inauguration ceremony.
It is the first time in decades the country is witnessing a peaceful transition of power to a democratically elected successor after the civil war.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia, Africa’s first woman president, who completed her two terms as president of Liberia, was ushered into the ceremonial ground by the Military Honour Guard, amidst cheers from the crowd.
The Liberian national anthem echoed through the stands of the stadium as enthusiastic Liberians sang their hearts out, waving their national flag as Ellen Sirleaf Johnson took her last presidential salute before joining the dignitaries up stage.
Some Liberian nationals who spoke to The Finder at the event grounds hailed their first-ever woman president for the rebuilding of institutional infrastructure and entrenching freedom of speech in Liberia. She has been able to rebuild institutions such as the General Audit Commission and Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission, as well as many others that were non-functional after the war.
Enter the people’s president
The stadium came alive with thunderous cheers when Mr Weah, a man who has come to be known as the People’s President, entered the stadium to be sworn in as the next President of Liberia.
The moment the people were waiting for came when Mr Weah took the oath of office.
The stadium was filled with the song ‘You waste it baba’, to wit God has blessed or done it. Immediately he uttered the last words of the oath of office, the people burst into singing. The singing lasted minutes thereafter, virtually burying the oath of the vice-president-elect, Jewel Howard Taylor.
Liberia is open for business
In his inaugural address, President George Manneh Weah made a strong appeal for direct foreign investments and for private investors to take advantage of the many opportunities in Liberia.
He pledged to create the enabling environment to grow indigenous Liberian businesses to become globally competitive.
“To the private sector, Liberia is open for business”, he emphasised.
President Weah further rallied the nation to a common goal of building on the foundation laid by his predecessor, to transform the fortunes of the country.
To achieve this, he urged all Liberians to put their shoulder to the wheel and be agents of positive change in rebuilding a new Liberia.
“We can do better together”, he said.
He emphasised that the country needs people with very high sense of integrity if Liberia is to make any meaningful progress in building on the successes chucked in its recent history.
He assured that his government would ensure prudent use of public resources and ensure that national resources do not end up in the pocket of few public officials.
He also assured to fight public sector corruption and punish those found culpable.
President Weah was grateful to his predecessor for laying a solid foundation, for which the country can build on in its transformation agenda.
He promised to entrench the country’s democracy and ensure the freedoms and liberties of all.
“These are the fundamental rights of the people, and it must be upheld,” he added.
According to him, the “democracy of Liberia is here to stay”, adding that never again should bloodshed be the price tag for any transition in Liberia.
He paid tribute to all those who lost their lives in the brutal war.
He thanked Liberians for reposing confidence in him to lead the rebuilding of Liberia.
“Rest assured [that] I will not let you down,” he assured.
President Weah was decorated with a national award as a distinguished son of the land.