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Thursday, January 1, 2015

footballer Weah enters politics in Liberia

George Weah [George Tawlon Manneh Oppong Ousman Weah] was a famous striker, regarded as one of the greatest African players of all time.  Almost 20 years back, in 1995 he was named FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d'Or award.   In 2004 he was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.  Weah spent fourteen years of his professional football career playing for clubs in France, Italy, and England.

Liberia  is in West Africa bordered by Sierra Leone,Guinea and Ivory Coast to its east. It covers an area of 111,369 square kilometres (43,000 sq mi) and is home to about 4 million people. English is the official language and over thirty indigenous languages are also spoken within the country. For those interested in Marine and ships, the Liberian Registry, established in 1948 by former U.S. Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, is recognized as one of the foremost open ship and corporate registries.  The current Ebola outbreak is the worst the world has ever seen. One reason it's been able to spread so quickly is because of where it first emerged: in the porous remote border area between Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. It has killed so many people bringing untold suffering.

Football is a popular game and the Liberia national football team, nicknamed the Lone Stars, is the national association football team, controlled by the Liberia Football Association. Liberia has twice qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations – 1996 and 2002, but has never reached World Cup finals. 

The news now is former world soccer player of the year George Weah has won a seat in Liberia's senate to represent the capital, defeating the son of the president and boosting his political fortunes ahead of a presidential election in 2017. Weah won the Montserrado County seat that includes the capital Monrovia with 78% of the vote, defeating Robert Sirleaf, the son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia's National Elections Commission said.  Weah, the footballer and leader of the country's largest opposition party [the Congress for Democratic Change], lost the 2005 presidential election to Sirleaf and lost again in 2011 when he was a vice presidential candidate. He is expected to stand again in 2017.

The person whom he is fighting against – is the current President - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Harvard-trained economist.  She served as Minister of Finance under President William Tolbert from 1979 until the 1980 coup d'état, after which she left Liberia and held senior positions at various financial institutions.  She won the 2005 presidential election and won again in 2011.  Sirleaf was conferred the Indira Gandhi Prize by our President  Pranab Mukherjee in 2013. As of 2014, she is listed as the 70th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.

More importantly,  Sirleaf was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakel Karman of Yemen. The women were recognized "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."   But in recent times,  opponents in the presidential campaign have accused her of buying votes and using government funds to campaign. Her camp denies the charges. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

30th Dec 2014.

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