LIBERIA: Why did George Weah’s bodyguard commit suicide?

By The Africa Report*

President Weah © Cyrille Choupas for JAMG

A string of mysterious deaths of officials with links to the Liberian presidency under George Weah, has sparked confusion and fear in the country.

There is an increasing atmosphere of fear in Liberia, with growing unease about George Weah’s harsh rule, and the consequences of speaking out against him.

Now is his fourth year, people no longer talk about Weah’s winning platform of ‘pro-poor change’ , but rather about the growing atmosphere of fear. Some even refer to the dark days of  President Samuel Kanyon Doe’s regime just before Liberia collapsed into civil war in the late 1980s.

Latest incident

Melvin Earley, an Executive Protective Services agent and one of Weah’s closest bodyguards reportedly committed suicide on 19 February behind the house Weah was staying in on a trip to Tappita, Nimba County. Earley was under suspicion for disloyalty within the presidential circle.

The government stated his death as suicide, without carrying out a post-mortem. However his family, upon seeing his body, rejects this claim, saying he appeared to have been shot in the abdomen, the chest, and the head.

A pattern of events

In January 2020, presidential bodyguards brutally assaulted journalist Zenu Koboi Miller, who died from his injuries three weeks later. Since then, Liberia’s usually outspoken media has become a lot quieter.

In October 2020, four auditors probing into government accounts died days apart under suspicious circumstances.

“Many Liberians believe a secret militia exists to intimidate or eliminate Weah’s opponents”, says Africa Confidential.

Weah’s presidency

On the 30 of March, the State Department of the United States noted ‘significant human rights issues’ under Weah, including ‘serious restrictions on freedom of the press, including violence and threats of violence against journalists.’

The report went on to condemn ‘arbitrary killings by police’ and ‘cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by police.’

While Weah’s predecessor Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was thick-skinned and laughed away frequent attacks by the media, “Weah – his critics say – is deeply insecure to be insecure and unfocused. He rages and threatens after every perceived slight”, says Africa Confidential.

The full version of this article appeared in Africa Confidential.  

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