L/R: President George Weah in conversation with Philipbert Browne

Newspaper Owner Accuses ECOWAS Ahead October 10 Polls

The proprietor of the Hot Pepper newspaper in Liberia, Philipbert S. Browne, has accused the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and some Western countries whose names he fell short of disclosing, of being complicit in vote-rigging in two successive elections in Liberia.

Browne, a controversial media manager, made the claim Thursday, 21 September 2023, in a series of social media interactions via his verified Facebook handle, averring among other things that he’s a witness to how the regional group and the West overturned election results twice in Liberia in favor of the former ruling Unity Party of ex-President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her Vice President, Joseph N. Boakai, who is now the closest contender to incumbent President George Weah in Liberia’s presidential race slated for next month.

Under the Unity Party-led government rule in August of 2014, Browne, then the publisher of a local daily, the National Chronicles, was arrested by state security officers and jailed, and his newspaper shut down. He later established the Hot Pepper newspaper, which broke the news at the inception of the Weah administration that the former soccer star’s regime was complicit in the alleged disappearance of some 16 billion Liberian dollar banknotes.

Browne writes: “We lived to bear witness, how ECOWAS and the WEST, twice over-turned the presidential elections in favor of the Unity Party EJS & JNB. Did George Weah start a civil war?”

These assertions of Browne, who is accused of supporting the re-election bid of incumbent President George Weah, come amid a barrage of speculations, especially from opposition politicians that the Weah administration is allegedly hatching a plan to rig the 10 October presidential election.

The longtime newspaper publisher in one of his Thursday Facebook posts implied that since nothing was done when ECOWAS and the West allegedly rigged two elections in favor of Unity Party against Weah’s CDC party, should the current regime rig next month’s presidential election, it should as well be accepted by those who may feel aggrieved.

“WHAT IS GOOD FOR THE GOOSE IS ALSO GOOD FOR THE GANDER,” Browne wrote, to support his previous point that in the event the 10 October presidential election is rigged by the Weah’s regime, there should be no war, as certain opposition figures are predicting.

Browne, who is yet to show any evidence to substantiate his vote-rigging claim against ECOWAS, further claims that at the time the regional body and the West allegedly overturned election results in Sirleaf’s and Boakai’s favor against Weah, he supported such action because according to him, the retired footballer turned politician was ill-prepared to lead Liberia that was just coming out of a brutal civil war.

The newspaper publisher, who seems to be in favor of the Weah regime rigging the 10 October polls further wrote: “Now, Weah has been tested and is better suited.” Browne recently alarmed that he has every reason to believe that some individuals in the hierarchy of the main opposition Unity Party are allegedly plotting to harm him for his alleged support to President Weah’s re-election bid when according to them he should be neutral.

In May of this year, Browne took to Facebook disclosing that he was in a state of conflict and confusion over what he termed as President Weah saving his life but that the Liberian leader was unaware that he (Browne) is aware that it was he (Weah) that exposed a plot to assassinate him and facilitated his escape from the country at the time.

He narrated how when some Liberian lawmakers whose name he did not disclose wanted him dead for reporting a story on bribery at the Legislature, it was President Weah, who he said referred to him as his friend, saved his life by asking him to flee the country just before his would-be assailants would strike.

Efforts to contact ECOWAS for a response proved abortive.

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