afrol News, 4 January - "Why was the image of the late President William Tubman not uprooted as well? We should learn to respect talents. George Weah is the first Liberian and perhaps the first African to win the 'World Best', 'Europe Best' and 'Africa Best' accolades in his career, and as such, we should honour him for putting Liberia on the world soccer map," a former lawmaker of Liberia, Joseph Kornomia, protested today.
For the purpose of beautifying the streets of the capital Monrovia, the Liberian government planned to uproot the statue of the country's soccer legend and 2005 presidential contester George Weah. Authorities had demolished everything including buildings in Broad Street except Mr Weah's statue. The beautification, which is aimed at changing the face of the capital, costs over US$ 200,000.
As part of the project, trees and grasses would be planted on the streets. The idea was among the numerous reform plans by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first woman President of Liberia and Africa.
But political analysts described the move as a mere political vendetta aimed at discrediting Mr Weah, who stood against Ms Johnson-Sirleaf in the war-ravaged country's bitter second round presidential elections in 2005.
The second polling round between the two contesters became a bitter and narrow fight, with militants of the two political blocs issuing threats of violence. Mr Weah, after being presented with his challenger's win, claimed to be a victim of election fraud but bowed into massive international pressure not to jeopardise the fragile peace in Liberia.
Despite the political affairs one year ago, Mr Weah remains a very popular and respected man in Liberia. Former lawmaker Kornomia thus argued that Liberian authorities lacked justification to uproot Mr Weah's effigy. "The authorities should have thought twice before taking the action," Mr Kornomia concluded.
George Weah could be remembered for raising the name of Liberia to the highest zenith through football. Until getting into trouble with Liberia's former dictator Charles Taylor, Mr Weah sponsored and captained his country's national team in several international competitions in Africa.
Mr Weah also has used his fame as one of the world's best-ever football players to do much charity work, fighting poverty and promoting education. He was appointed goodwill ambassador for the UN's Children Fund UNICEF, travelling to Liberia several times to urge parents to send their children to school.
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