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Shine Liberia’s report on President Weah’s absence at Unification Day Celebration, misleading

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Shine Liberia’s report on President Weah’s absence at Unification Day Celebration, misleading

Verdict: Misleading. DUBAWA’s investigation has established that the ex-president was absent at the Unification Day ceremony. However, his absence could not have been caused by a viral programme sheet that addressed him as an Ambassador. That programme sheet was not for the Unification Day ceremony.

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May 14 is set aside each year in Liberia as National Unification Day, and it is observed throughout the Republic as a National Holiday.

An act of legislation passed in 1960 celebrates the day, symbolising the need for unification and integration on the 14th of May each year. 

The day of unification is also the day for the government of Liberia to adhere to the principles of justice, equality, fair play, and equal opportunities for all. This is regardless of their tribe or clan, creed, religion, or economic status so that Liberians might be united in a consolidated whole. 

To mark this year’s Unification Day, a programme brochure believed for the occasion, went viral. 

Shine Liberia, an online blog took to its Facebook page to share the programme sheet, officially announcing the celebration of the Unification Day. 

Part of the inscriptions on the sheet read: “Republic of Liberia, National Unification Day Awards 2024. Awarded to: Ambassador George Mannah Weah.”

Shine Liberia’s report on President Weah’s absence at Unification Day Celebration, misleading
Picture of the viral programme sheet.

The online blog claimed that the organisers of this year’s Unification Day identified former President Weah as an ambassador rather than a former president of the country, which they said caused the former president to withdraw from the celebration. 

So far, the post has generated 87 reactions, and 131 comments, and has been shared once.

Given the controversy the claim has generated on a day set aside to unify the people of Liberia, DUBAWA decided to verify the truthfulness of the post.

Verification

It is important to state that ex-president George Weah did not attend the Unification ceremony. But was his absence attributable to an alleged Ambassador inscription on a Unification programme sheet?

DUBAWA first contacted the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs, and Tourism (MICAT) to ascertain the authenticity of the programme sheet.

The Institution’s Public Affairs Office, through its Director for Press and Public Affairs, Lawrence Fahnbulleh, said the ministry was one of the organisers of the May 14, 2024, Unification Day celebration. 

According to Fahnbulleh, the circulation programme was not the one they made, saying it was a Unification Day celebration and not an award ceremony as seen on the viral brochure. 

He disclosed that the viral programme sheet is from an organisation that held its awards ceremony on Unification Day.

He, however, shared a copy of the National Unification Day celebration programme sheet with DUBAWA.

Shine Liberia’s report on President Weah’s absence at Unification Day Celebration, misleading
The cover page of the Unification Day program sheet

DUBAWA later contacted Augustine Arkoi, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Better Future Foundation (BFF), a civil society organisation dedicated to Liberia’s postwar reconstruction and development.

Mr Arkoi confirmed that the viral program sheet is from their organisation’s awards ceremony they hosted on May 13, 2024.

He was, however, hesitant to explain why their brochure addressed the former Liberian president that way.

It is unclear why former President Weah did not attend the Unification Day celebration. However, what is clear is that the brochure that circulates is not the Unification program sheet.

Also, the National Unification Day celebration organisers did not address the ex-president as Ambassador George Manneh Weah.

Conclusion

Shine Liberia’s post that former President George Weah did not attend the National Unification Day celebration because the organisers addressed him as an ambassador is misleading.

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