A viral quote purportedly by George Weah, Liberian president, has been broadly shared on social media.
In one of such posts on Twitter, the quote was embedded in a graphic design which has the image of the Liberian president in the background.
“As long as ECOWAS tolerates institutional coups that allow lifetime presidents, there will always be military coups,” the quotes attributed to Weah reads.
Is this true @officialABAT was slammed by Liberian President 🤣😂😂
I love this quote
Augmentin | RCCG | Transcorp Hilton Hotel | David Hundeyin | GOLIATH HAS FALLEN | Niger pic.twitter.com/VFtLyw99mb
— Work ethics (@workethicsng) August 3, 2023
“As long as ECOWAS tolerates institutional coups that allow lifetime presidencies, there will always be military coups.
And we cannot condemn military coups when we do not condemn those who carry out institutional coups."~George Weah.
The President of Liberia 🇱🇷 pic.twitter.com/jusGWQIENZ
— Charly Boy Area Fada 1 (@AreaFada1) August 4, 2023
NIGER’S MILITARY COUP
On July 26, President Mohamed Bazoum was deposed and detained by a military junta led by Abdourahamane Tchiani.
A few hours after the takeover, Amadou Abdramane, the spokesperson of the Niger army, announced that “the defence and security forces have decided to put an end to the regime you are familiar with”.
Two days later, Tchiani declared himself as president of the National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland (CNSP).
Niger, a landlocked country, rich in uranium and gold, got its independence on August 3, 1960 from France. Ever since, Niger has recorded five different military coups, with the most recent in July. The first occurred in 1974, others occurred in 1996, 1999 and 2010.
Aside from Niger, a couple of neighbouring countries including Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, who are members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), are presently under military rule.
On July 30, in response to the military takeover, Bola Tinubu, the president of Nigeria and chair of ECOWAS, together with leaders of other member states met in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. The focus of the meeting was to take a collective stand on the situation in Niger.
At the end of the meeting, ECOWAS gave the military leadership a 7-day ultimatum to reinstate ousted Bazoum and hand over power to the democratically elected government or face severe sanctions.
Also, on July 30, the African Union asked the military leadership to restore the democratic government of Bazoum within 15 days.
Reacting to the one-week ultimatum by ECOWAS, Abdramane said: “We want to once more remind ECOWAS or any other adventurer of our firm determination to defend our homeland.”
The circulating quote attributed to Weah, purportedly claimed that the former professional footballer, in response to ECOWAS’ decision in Niger, said: “We cannot condemn military coups when we do not condemn those who carry out institutional coups”.
But did Weah truly say those exact words, and where did he utter them? Here is what we found.
Using a keyword search, TheCable found that despite that the quote started trending on social media and news platforms in August, most of the posts and news reports neither stated the time nor event where Weah made the statement.
Why didn’t you state that in the post?
— Padrino debo (@PadrinoDebo) August 4, 2023
An extensive search led to a report by the Sierra Leone Telegraph, with the headline: “ECOWAS Heads of State suspend Guinea and hold junta responsible for safety of Conde”.
The news report was published on September 10 2021 and had a similar quote attributed to Weah, during a video conference attended by ECOWAS heads of state.
The discussion at the meeting focused on the military coup in Guinea Conakry, which overthrew Alpha Conde, who was 83 years old at the time of the coup.
During the meeting, Weah said the military intervention in Guinea was prompted by Conde’s decision to change the constitution so as to achieve his third-term objective.
“While we are condemning these military coups, we must also muster the courage to look into what is triggering these unconstitutional takeovers…. Could it be that we are not honouring our political commitments to respect the term limits of our various constitutions,” Weah was quoted to have said to African leaders in 2021.
Although the recent viral quote attributed to Weah is not exactly the same as his summation at the ECOWAS meeting two years ago, the underlying message is similar.
Ledgerhood Rennie, Liberia’s minister of information, told TheCable that the recent quote in circulation, attributed to George Weah, is “misleading”.
On July 28, through a statement, the Liberian government in response to the Niger coup, condemned the “unconstitutional action being perpetrated by elements of the armed forces of Niger”, adding that it is an “affront to the democratic will of the peaceful people of Niger who chose their leaders in a democratic process”.
The claim that the Liberian president is in support of the Niger coup is misleading.
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