In one of his first acts as President of Liberia, George Weah announced he will cut his salary by 25% as part of an effort to confront his country’s “broken economy.”
“In view of the very rapidly deteriorating situation of the economy, I am informing you today, with immediate effect, that I will reduce my salary and benefits by 25%,” Weah said on Monday in his first State of the Republic address.
Weah, a former professional soccer star in Europe, was sworn in as President of the West African nation last week. When he took office from his predecessor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, it marked the first time in recent history that power has been transferred from one democratically elected leader to another in Liberia. Sirleaf took office in 2006 as Liberia’s first elected female president, and was re-elected in 2011. Before her tenure, Liberia was embroiled in civil war for years.
In his first address to the National Legislature on Monday, Weah stressed the dire economic situation facing Liberia.
“Our economy is broken, our government is broke, our currency is in free-fall, inflation is rising, unemployment is at an unprecedented high, and our foreign reserves are at an all-time low,” Weah warned.
The nation of 4.6 million people, which was founded by freed slaves from the United States in the 19th century, has long struggled to alleviate poverty. It endured a 14-year civil war that ended in 2003 and in 2014 faced an Ebola epidemic that killed over 4,000 people.
Weah remains a footballing legend and is considered one of the greatest Africans to ever have played the game. He played for several European clubs including Monaco, PSG, AC Milan, Manchester City and Chelsea.
Weah announced that the forfeited portions of his salary would be given back to the government and allocated as needed.
“I believe that it is appropriate that we should all make sacrifices in the interest of our country,” Weah announced.