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Sunday, February 25, 2024

LIBERIA’S CODE OF CONDUCT IS CONSISTENTLY IGNORED BY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND ENTITIES – JOEL MAYBURY

Date:

LIBERIA – Joel Maybury, the Charge d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia says in spite of the provisions of Liberia’s Code of Conduct which requires public officials to declare their assets, including issuing basic financial statements are consistently ignored by government entities…”

In a statement delivered at the Center for Security Studies and Development, Mr. Joel Maybury reiterated the U.S. Government’s stance against corruption in Liberia, saying, “Corruption diverts public resources from necessary improvements in the quality and accessibility of crucial services, inhibits foreign investment, dampens prospects for private sector-led economic growth, and undermines the rule of law.”

“It also blunts the effectiveness and impact of the billions of dollars of U.S. government assistance provided since the end of the civil war. This is one reason why the Biden-Harris Administration launched a new U.S. Strategy for Countering Corruption, signaling our renewed commitment to focus on addressing this problem in countries like Liberia.”

Adding the George M. Weah Government has been cited over pervasive corruption and urged to address the issue.

It can be recalled, that last February, at a program held to mark Liberia’s Bicentennial which was attended by the Liberian Chief Executive and his cabinet, the head of the U.S. Presidential delegation to the celebration Ms. Dana Banks, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Africa at the National Security Council noted in remarks that, “Like many democracies, Liberia still has work to do to seriously address and root out corruption. We bring this up as your friends who are eager to help.”

She said that corruption is an act of robbery. It robs Liberia’s citizens of access to health care, public safety, to education. It robs you of the healthy business environment we all know Liberia could have, which would lift countless Liberians out of poverty…”

Also, in March, former U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Linda Thomas- Greenfield told a virtual forum at the Wilson’s Center on the Commemoration of 200 Years of U.S.- Liberia Ties that, “Liberia has a serious problem right now, and that’s taking on a number of issues, foremost among them is the issue of corruption. And this is an issue that we are seeing across the board, not just in Liberia, but in other places.”

“And for me, corruption is an act of robbery, plain and simple. It is a cancer in our societies. It is the government stealing from the people of Liberia, from the mouths of children. It takes away access to health care. It denies citizens their right to public safety. It stops young people of Liberia from getting the education they deserve. It takes the future away from them. It prevents the country from having the healthy business environment that it needs to lift Liberians out of poverty. It has denied Liberia its place in history, a successful and prosperous country with so many resources to contribute to its people’s well-being,” The US Ambassador to the United Nations further said.

The Biden Administration’s drumbeat against corruption in the poor West African country was again highlighted when the U.S. diplomat reminded the audience at the program that, “…The country is now in the bottom 25 percent of nations globally in the Corruption Perceptions Index. A recent report by the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia showed that 90 percent of Liberians rate the level of corruption as high, and nearly two-thirds of Liberians lack faith in the government’s commitment to fighting corruption.”

During his participation at the White House-sponsored Summit for Democracy virtual event last December, Liberian President George M. Weah made some key pledges to tackle corruption including amending the Anti-Corruption Act to grant direct prosecutorial powers; proposing legislation for the establishment of an anti-corruption court; and committing to fairness, transparency, and accountability in election funding.

Six months into the “Year of Action” theme of the Summit – Charge D’Affaires Maybury observed in his remarks, “…These commitments are commendable, but it is not enough to commit. The commitments must be implemented. Or as we like to say, “Actions speak louder than words.”

The U.S. envoy commended the work of Liberia’s Internal Audit Agency and the General Auditing Commission for their diligence in conducting audits and in producing high-quality audit reports but quickly cited the lack of legislative hearings and follow-ups on the audit reports. “This is truly a missed opportunity,” Mr. Maybury lamented.

Liberians observed that in spite of urgings from international partners, there appears to be no urgency on the part of the Government to address repeated citations of poor governance and a climate of run-away corruption.

The Weah Administration which was inaugurated in January 2018 has been buffeted almost daily with reports of alleged corruption. No public official has been successfully prosecuted and jailed for acts of corruption.

On declaration of assets, President Weah has invoked a privacy shield over the open release of his assets and public officials have also declined to comply with declaring their assets in contravention of the law.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon
Is a Liberian journalist. Contact: 0777425285/ 0886946925 Email: saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com/ saywonsocrates3@gmail.com

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