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No evidence former President George Weah was a rebel!

Claim: A Facebook user bearing the name Golden Heart posted an image claiming to be former President George Weah wearing a soldier’s uniform. The poster claimed that Weah was a former rebel who took part in Liberia’s 14 years of civil war. 

Verdict: No evidence substantiates the claim that former President George Weah participated in the Liberian civil war. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report didn’t mention Weah as a Warlord or a Rebel in the civil crisis. 

Full Text 

The establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia has been the town’s talk since the new government’s ascendancy. Recently, the House of Representatives unanimously voted for the passage of a resolution from President Boakai to establish a War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia. 

The court’s objective, among other things, is to prosecute persons who caused atrocities during the civil crisis in the country. As recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), establishing a criminal tribunal in Liberia will create a pathway for perpetrators of injustice to pay for the crimes they committed against humanity during the 14 years of war. It will also serve as a means to offer justice to war victims. 

The TRC was established at the end of the peace conference in Acrca Ghana when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed by all parties to the conflict, including the international community as guarantors, in August 2003. This was for Liberia, its first period of

calm and relative peace following 14 years of civil war and violent armed conflict.

The mandate of the TRC was to foster truth, justice, and reconciliation by identifying the root causes of the conflict and determining those who are responsible for committing domestic and

international crimes against the Liberian people. 

As the debate for the court’s establishment in Liberia gets heated, citizens and some perpetrators have started pointing accusing fingers at one another for their roles in the civil unrest. 

A social media user, Golden Heart, posted an image on his Facebook page claiming former President George Weah was wearing a camouflage shirt (believed to be a soldier’s uniform). The picture came with the narrative that Weah was one of the Rebels during the Civil War. 

The claimant in his post said, “Ah, so George Weah was a former Rebel too? But Prince Johnson really releasing plenty of pictures oo. Don’t be surprised to see Boakai holding the arm.” 

The post generated a bit of reaction and response. 

In the comment section, viewers argued about the credibility of the image. This led DUBAWA to fact-check. 

Verification 

In verifying this image, DUBAWA used the Google Reverse Image search and found a similar image and fact check report done on October 23, 2023.

In that report, the claimant used the same image and accused George Weah of being a founding member of a dreadful rebel group called Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL). Fact check Liberia found as follows;

“…Based on the above findings, we concluded in our final analysis that the posted Weah image has no authentic source, nor is there anything similar to it on the web. The metadata showed that it was [a] screenshot and carries only the date it was downloaded from Facebook.

When examined, the image’s metadata, including the date, location, and camera settings, it proved to be an edited screenshot.”

In further verification by DUBAWA, the researcher fact-checked the TRC lists of people who took part in the civil crisis in Liberia and persons recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for prosecution. Despite the thorough search by the fact-checker, there was no mention of George Weah in the TRC report as a Warlord or a Rebel during the crisis. 

The 14-year civil war took place between 1989-2003. DUBAWA then probed the biography of George Weah as a football star to investigate where Weah was during the war. The research shows that Weah played active football in the following countries: Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City, Marseille, and Al Jazira in 2003. The biography can be found here. Comparing Weah’s professional football career with the time of the Liberia War, it is improbable that Weah would combine his professional football career with being a warlord.

Finally, the poster is believed to be a creator and contributor of memes on Facebook from daily content posted on his page. Link to his profile here 

Below are screenshots of some of his posts

Conclusion

Findings from our fact-check conclude that former President George Weah was not a Rebel in Liberia’s Civil War. The claim is, therefore, false!

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