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George Weah to rid of the “Black People only” citizenship from Liberian law; slashes his presidential pay as he inherits “empty coffers”.

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George Weah to rid of the “Black People only” citizenship from Liberian law; slashes his presidential pay as he inherits “empty coffers”.

In his first State of the Republic address since becoming president just over a week ago, the former football star and new Liberia’s new president George Weah has declared that his “most urgent and imperative agenda is to remove the law that limits citizenship in Liberia to Black people only, saying “… it is my view that keeping such a clause in our constitution is unnecessary, racist, and inappropriate for the place that Liberia occupies today.”

In a 3666 word speech from which he extensively quoted the country’s constitution as his “principal guide for leadership and governance” – he reminds Liberians that the country “is open for business,” but explains that he is inheriting empty coffers from former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration.

“The state of the economy that my administration has inherited, leaves a lot to be desired… Our economy is broken, our government is broke, our currency is in free-fall, inflation is rising, unemployment is at an unprecedented high, and our foreign reserves are at an all-time low,” he lamented adding:

“The framers of the 1847 constitution may have had every reason and justification to include these restrictions…This may have been appropriate for the 19th century, and for the threats and conditions that existed at that time. However, here in the 21st century, I am of the view that these threats no longer exist, and that these conditions have changed.”

He also questioned and said he would change the other article within the same law – one which restrict land ownership to exclusively to Liberian citizens only.

“[this tends] to impede our progress and stunt our growth and development…no foreign investor – in fact, not any investor – will be willing to make significant direct investments in our country if they cannot own property..[and] direct investments placed on leased properties are virtually unbankable…[this] is inconsistent with my pronouncement that “Liberia is open for business,”

He concluded his address with announcing that  he will take an immediate pay cut: “In view of the very rapidly deteriorating situation of the economy, I am informing you today, with immediate effect, that I will reduce my salary and benefits by 25 per cent…I believe that it is appropriate that we should all make sacrifices in the interest of our country.”

You can read the full speech here

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Written by Regina Jane Jere

reGina Jane Jere is a Zambian-born London-based journalist and founding Editor of the New African Woman magazine the sister-publication of the New African magazine of which she was the Deputy Editor for over a decade. The mother of two juggles a wide-range of editorial and managerial duties, but she has particular passion on women’s health, education, rights and empowerment. She is also a former Zambian correspondent for Agence France Presse, and a former Africa Researcher at Index on Censorship. She writes extensively on a wide range of issues, from politics to women’s rights, media and free speech to beauty and fashion.

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