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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 August 2005, 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK
Debbah slams Weah's Liberia bid
By Ledgerhood Rennie
BBC Sport, Monrovia

George Weah
Debbah has the right to his opinion and political affiliation
George Weah, reacting to James Debbah's refusal to support his presidential bid

Former Liberia striker James 'Salinsa' Debbah has criticised George Weah's decision to seek the country's presidency.

Debbah, who is Weah's cousin, said he will not be supporting the former African, European and World Player of the Year because he lacks the experience for the job.

"I will be doing a lot of injustice if I vote for him," Debbah said to a surprised audience at a news conference in Monrovia on Tuesday.

Debbah's statement comes ahead of the start of official campaigning, which starts on Monday 15 August.

"My disqualification of George Weah is not based on the fact that a lot of people say he's not educated," Debbah continued.

"My reason is that he does not have the necessary governmental experience."

"He will be brought to public ridicule, as he is a political novice who would not understand the intricacies of politics.

"All the things he has worked for over the years could be taken away from him, if he does not perform [as president]," warned Debbah.

Known as 'Salinsa' during his playing days, the long-time associate of Weah is regarded as Liberia's most popular football personality after the former Paris St Germain, AC Milan and Chelsea striker.

Reacting to Debbah's statement, Weah told BBC Sport he regrets that "my cousin does not seem to understand why I am getting into politics at this time."

"James knows I have the leadership ability, which was evident when I played and captained the Lone Star (Liberia's national team)".

"If he says I'm a novice to the presidency, he should know that no one goes to the presidency with the requisite experience, except that person has served before," Weah said.

Meanwhile, the validity of Weah's candidacy is also being scrutinized by the Elections Commission, following allegations by a group of opposition parties that he is a naturalised French citizen.

This would bar him from seeking elected office, as Liberian laws forbid dual citizenship.


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