George Weah, President of Liberia (since Jan 22, 2018)
George Tawlon Manneh Oppong Ousman Weah (born 1 October 1966) is a Liberian politician, who became the 25th President of Liberia in 2018, and a retired professional footballer who played as a striker.
After beginning his career in his home country of Liberia, Weah spent 14 years playing for clubs in France, Italy, and England. Arsène Wenger first brought him to Europe, signing him for Monaco in 1988. Weah moved to Paris Saint-Germain in 1992 where he won Ligue 1 in 1994 and became the top scorer of the 1994–95 UEFA Champions League. He signed for Milan in 1995 where he spent four successful seasons, winning Serie A twice. His most notable goal in Italy saw him run the length of the field against Verona. He moved to the Premier League towards the end of his career and had spells at Chelsea and Manchester City, winning the FA Cup at the former, before returning to France to play for Marseille in 2001, and subsequently ending his career with Al-Jazira in 2003. At the international level, he represented Liberia at the African Cup of Nations on two occasions, winning 60 caps and scoring 22 goals for his country.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest African players of all time, in 1995, he was named as a FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d’Or, becoming the first and to date only African player to win these awards. In 1989, 1994 and 1995, he was also named the African Footballer of the Year, and in 1996, he was named African Player of the Century. Known for his acceleration, speed, and dribbling ability, in addition to his goalscoring and finishing, Weah was described by FIFA as “the precursor of the multi-functional strikers of today”. In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players.
Weah became involved in politics in Liberia following his retirement from football. He formed the Congress for Democratic Change and ran unsuccessfully for President in the 2005 election, losing to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the second round of voting. In the 2011 election, he ran unsuccessfully for Vice President alongside Winston Tubman. Weah was subsequently elected to the Liberian Senate for Montserrado County in the 2014 elections.
Weah was elected President of Liberia in the 2017 election, defeating the incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai, and sworn in on 22 January 2018.
Weah has three children with his wife Clar Weah: George Weah Jr., Tita and Timothy. Timothy Weah played for the USA Under-17 Team at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup that took place in India, he is currently signed to Paris Saint-Germain F.C. of France. George Weah Jr., also a footballer, was a member of A.C. Milan’s youth system. He has also played for several European clubs as well as representing the United States at youth level. After a trial with Chelsea in 2013, Timothy signed with Paris Saint-Germain in 2015. Like his brother, he also plays for the United States at youth level.
Weah converted from Protestant Christianity to Islam, before converting back. He hopes for peace for Muslims and Christians, and says they are “one people”. Currently, Weah again practices Protestantism. In October 2017, he was spotted in the prominent Nigerian church of Pastor T.B. Joshua alongside Liberian Senator Prince Yormie Johnson. Joshua was allegedly a key influence in Johnson’s decision to endorse Weah’s candidacy in the 2017 Liberian elections.
He holds French citizenship and speaks the language fluently.
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was born in central Monrovia in 1938 and has led a distinguished career spanning nearly four decades in the private and public domain in Liberia and internationally.
She began her career in banking and economic and financial management in 1965 at the then Treasury Department in Liberia. In 1979, as Minister of Finance of Liberia, Sirleaf spearheaded the move to curb the mismanagement of government finances. After the military coup of 1980, she served as President of the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI), Vice President of CITICORP’s Africa Regional Office in Nairobi and Senior Loan Officer at the World Bank where she was an initial member of the World Bank Council of African Advisors. In 1985, she took a sabbatical to contest for a seat in the Liberian Senate. She was placed under house arrest and then sentenced to ten years in prison for speaking against the Samuel Doe regime. After being incarcerated for a few months, she fled to the United States and served as Vice President for Equator Bank and in 1992 she joined the UNDP as Assistant Administrator and Director of its Regional Bureau of Africa with the rank of Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations. She left that post in 1997 to run as a Presidential candidate against Charles Taylor where the official results placed her second in a field of thirteen.
In 2003 when Charles Taylor was exiled to Nigeria and the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) was formed, Sirleaf was selected to serve as Chairperson of the Governance Reform Commission where she led the country’s anti-corruption reform by changing the reporting mechanism of the General Auditing Commission from the Executive to the Legislature thereby strengthening and reinforcing its independence. She left this position to successfully contest the 2005 Presidential elections resulting in her historical inauguration on January 16, 2006, as President of Liberia.
After years of fighting for freedom, justice and equality in Liberia, spending time in jail and being forced into exile more than once, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is now entrusted with the most challenging task any Liberian leader has ever faced – rebuilding a post-conflict nation.
She has revived national hope and restored Liberia’s international reputation and credibility. Through her leadership, the government has identified four pillars in support of its development agenda: Peace and Security, Economic Revitalization, Governance and the Rule of Law, and Basic Infrastructure and Services.
National peace has been consolidated by the strengthening of key institutions of national security and completing the process of demilitarization, demobilization, training and reintegration of ex-combatants. All defense security units now enjoy enhanced compensation and proper pensions for retired Armed Forces of Liberia personnel have been instituted.
In addition to leading the national effort for achieving development goals, she has used her diplomatic and negotiating skills to reactivate bilateral relations with several countries including France, Germany, Canada, Israel and Italy.
Her leadership has resulted in the lifting of UN sanctions on the country’s diamond and forestry sectors and the successful renegotiation of a $1 billion concession agreement with Arcelor Mittal. Efforts are underway that will lead to relief from a $3.7 billion external debt. Several other investment proposals for the reopening of traditional economic activities in the mining and agriculture sector are underway.
She has also been successful in attracting resources from private foundations and individuals in Europe, Canada and the United States thus supplementing Government’s resources in support of activities in infrastructure, education, and health. After she delivered speeches, several universities have provided scholarships for the training of Liberians. Her strong support for private sector endeavor has resulted in a pledge of a $31 million facility by Robert L. Johnson at the Clinton Global Initiative in which she participated.
Her strong bipartisan support from the U.S. has resulted in Liberia’s inclusion in two supplemental budgets and to her well recognized speech at a Joint Meeting of Congress. In recognition for her tireless efforts to make Liberia a post-conflict success story, Sirleaf was awarded in 2007 the coveted Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor bestowed by an American president.
Sirleaf has served on many advisory boards and committees. Notably among these are: International Crisis Group (USA); Songhai Financial Holdings Ltd. (Ghana); Center for Africa’s International Relations, University of Witwatersrand (South Africa); Women’s World Banking (USA); Synergos (USA) and Women Waging Peace (USA). She was a founding member of the International Institute for Women in Political Leadership and has written widely on financial issues, development and human rights.
She is the recipient of several awards including the Civil Rights Museum Award (2007); the Africa Prize for the Sustainable End of Hunger (2006); the IRI Freedom Award (2006); the David Rockefeller Leadership Bridging Award (2006) and the Common Ground Award (2006). Special honors received include Commander de l’Ordre du Mono of Togo (1996); Ralph Bunche International Leadership Award (1995); Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom of Speech Award (1988) and the Grand Commander of the Star of Africa Redemption (1980).
She was one of the seven internationally eminent persons designated in 1999 by the OAU to investigate the Rwanda genocide, one of the five Commission Chairs for the Inter-Congolese Dialogue and one of two international experts selected by UNIFEM to investigate and report on the effect of conflict on women and women’s roles in peace building. She was the initial Chairperson of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), and a visiting Professor of Governance at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).
Sirleaf attended the College of West Africa in Central Monrovia, and holds a Masters in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. She has received seven Honorary Doctorate degrees from universities around the world and is founder and chief supporter of Measuagoon, a community development NGO in Liberia.
She is the proud mother of four sons and has seven grandchildren.
Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs
P.O. Box 9001
Capitol Hill, Monrovia
Republic of Liberia