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“Give Us George Weah,” A Sierra Leonean Speaks on “Leadership Swap”

Out of entrenched bitterness for President George Manneh Weah, some detractors of President George Manneh Weah often choose to say just anything that their wandering minds conceive, as if they needed their mouth to ease the pains of their inward political frustrations.

It is perhaps out of this psychological ailment that some folks recently began to parrot with wild gimmicks about making a swap of presidents between Liberia and Sierra Leone, suggesting that the British colony’s present head of state, Maada Bio, would be a better president than Liberia’s George Weah.

But before the last echo of such a ridiculous insinuation faded out, a Sierra Leonean rights activist, Sylvester Swaray, rose up to puncture the anti-Weah propaganda.

Swaray, a longtime Journalist, who is familiar with the political and bilateral developments in the Mano River Basin has given yet the most devastating rebuttal to people who think Liberia, under the leadership of president Weah, is a no-go place.

He presented what appears to be an elaborate contrast and comparison of leadership styles between Liberia under Weah and Sierra Leone under Bio.

Speaking in a lengthy radio interview via mobile phone from Freetown recently, Mr. Swaray said praises accorded President Bio for his purported human rights credentials in Sierra Leone as insinuated by Henry Costa who had escaped investigation in Liberia, makes him sick in his stomach. He pointed out that instead of thanking the civil society in Sierra Leone who pressured the government for his release, Henry Costa chose to shower praises on President Bio.

Recently, Henry Costa, the so-called chairman of the Council of Patriots (COP), who escaped a Liberian government investigation, was arrested on the airport in Sierra Leone but later released on the orders of President Bio.

And on arrival in the United States, Costa released volume of social media posts praising the Sierra Leonean leader’s human rights records, while denigrating those of Liberian President Dr. George Manneh Weah.

But in reaction to Costa’s posts, Human Rights Activist Sylvester Swaray, based in Freetown, said if it were lawful and possible, he would have loved to see Liberia and Sierra Leone exchange presidents just for a few days—Bio to Liberia as leader and Weah go to Sierra Leone as leader.

And when that happened, Mr. Swaray said, Henry Costa must return to Liberia under Bio to issue the same kind of threats and insults on Liberian President Bio as he is doing to Weah and see whether he would survive Bio’s onslaught.

The Sierra Leonean activist pointed out that Costa was able to return to Liberia from the US prior to his planned December 30, 2019 protest was amble indication that President Weah’s human rights records are far better than those of President Bio.

Mr. Swaray said: “Imagine what will happen to you siting in Freetown on a radio station and insulting President Bio and his mother or using all sort of Sunday school languages on the Sierra Leonean president.”

According to Mr. Swaray, no Sierra Leonean living out of the country who threatened to kill President Bio will return to Freetown and enjoy comfort. The kinds of words and the kinds of insults Costa use on his country’s president will not be condoned by Dr. Bio-it’s clear. “No Sierra Leonean will survive the wrath of President Bio if you ever did that here in Sierra Leone, period.”

That Henry Costa can sit in the US and threaten to buy guns to share them amongst Liberians with the aim of killing President George Weah and that he later returned to the country and given police protection to demonstrate, is a human rights credential that only a George Weah has in Africa, Mr. Swaray stressed.

Swaray added that that Costa and supporters normally block Monrovia’s streets and throw insults at the Liberian President; and every time he returns home, he is accorded police escort. This, he says, also proves that Weah human rights records are far better than any other president in Africa.

In Sierra Leone, according to Swaray, political and human rights activists have tried to peacefully gather and match but are crushed by Bio’s securities every time they tried. Some critics, he said, are sent to the notorious Padema Road prison for that.

Swaray added that some of Bio’s victims-opposition supporters who tried to protest were allegedly arrested and jailed. He said they were released hours before Costa arrived in Sierra Leone.

Media reports in September of last year in Freetown said, the head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Freetown, Gabriel Tommy, confirmed that five people were undergoing investigation at the CID in relation to sharing information on social media about a proposed demonstration on September 19th by an “unknown and unregistered” organization called “Concerned Sierra Leoneans”.

During a joint-press briefing at the Police Headquarters in Freetown, Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Community Relation Affairs, Kalia Sesay said that, this “unknown and unregistered” organization has been posting inciting messages and calling on people to go out, attack and burn down the State House, foreign embassies, banks and kill any police officer they come across during their protest in the guise of protesting against the economic hardship in the country.

It can also be recalled that Amnesty International warned that the Julius Maada Bio administration had failed to restore the right to demonstrate in Sierra Leoene.

Edmond Abu, who heads the Native Consortium and Research Center, a think-tank, was arrested on Tuesday in rainy Freetown as he led a small march against the rise of fuel prices from 6000 Leones (0.67 euros) to 8000 Leones (0.89 euros). “We are currently interrogating the protest leader at the Criminal Investigation Department for staging an unauthorized protest,” police superintendent Brima Kamara told AFP in Freetown..
Though Swaray did not name names, it appears the above media reports were some of the bad governance issues he is referring in Sierra Leone.
Those were some of the reasons why Swaray believes Costa was wrong to shower praises on President Bio; whom he claimed, is allergic to protest and denigrate President Weah who allows protest at will in his country.

Swaray disclosed that President Weah has proven a fatherly figure, which he said is lacking in the Sierra Leonean president.

“Some of us in Sierra Leone have learned that President Weah in Liberia is weak because of his love for mankind- he doesn’t want to hurt anyone.”

Swaray said. “With the kind of nasty insults against President Weah by Henry Costa and others, I wish it was under the dictatorial regime of President Bio. President Weah’s tolerance and human rights credential are immeasurable on the continent of Africa.”

Another comparison Swaray made between Weah and Bio is that they are all ending their two years in power-weah is two years in January and Bio will be two years in April.

But according to Swaray, while Weah has completed several hundred kilometers of paved roads in Liberia, Bio has not done a single kilometer in Sierra Leone.

He added that President Weah’s agenda to connect his country by paved roads, is the best that any president can achieve, adding that road connectivity brings development.

We admire Henry Costa for his eloquence, but no Sierra Leonean admire him for the kind of insults he accords his country’s leader.

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