Two ex-leaders of the journalists’ umbrella organization, Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Messrs. Gabriel I.H. Williams and Emmanuel D. Abalo, have made the call for President-elect Joseph N. Boakai’s administration, when inaugurated next month, to impose travel restrictions on officials serving the George Weah-led government.
In a statement recently released to the press, both men, who currently reside in the United States, made several recommendations that they believe if implemented by the incoming Boakai-led administration, would restore the hope of Liberians and ensure that the country gets back on the right trajectory of sustainable peace and progress.
The men accused the current administration headed by retired soccer star Weah of further plunging Liberia, a country they said is dangerously divided or polarized due to cleavages from its unresolved past, into deep and bitter division.
According to the pair, very poor leadership, characterized by gross abuse of power and rampant corruption, mysterious killings, and other extrajudicial actions, as well as the failure of the Weah-led government to institute a process of national reconciliation, have undermined sustainable peace and progress in the country.
Therefore, to restore hope to Liberians and put Liberia back on the right track, Williams and Abalo want Boakai, as president, to first fulfill his campaign pledge to form a government of “national inclusion,” which the men suggest should focus on the appointment of individuals with proven records of competence and integrity and not based on party loyalty or ethnicity.
Secondly, immediately upon his inauguration, the former officials of the PUL want Boakai to issue an Executive Order opening a major corruption investigation of the administration of his predecessor.
Williams and Abalo named certain officials in the Weah administration that the new administration’s legal action should be targeted at aimed at holding accountable the outgoing government officials for any impropriety.
“The Boakai administration must institute swift legal actions to bar the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Mr. Samuel Tweah, along with other senior officials of the Finance Ministry, as well as some senior officials of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) from leaving the country,” the men emphasized, adding that “this initial phase of the corruption investigation should also cover the Foreign Ministry, where several thousands of Liberian ECOWAS passports have allegedly been criminally sold.”
Similarly, the men called for the imposition of foreign travel restrictions on Foreign Minister Dee-Maxwell Kemayah and Deputy Foreign Minister Thelma Duncan Sawyer, also known as Mrs. Comfort Sawyer, pending investigations regarding passport scandals and other allegations of major malpractices they claimed occurred at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the tenure of the Weah administration.
They chided President Weah for terming as “witch-hunt” calls to audit officials of his administration, with Williams and Abalo indicating that those who see the process of holding former government officials accountable for their actions as a witch-hunt as being on the wrong side of history.
The men stated that Weah must be called to order for his recent pronouncements that investigating officials of his government was not in the interest of the peace and stability of the country.
“It is our considered opinion that ending impunity is the only way to contain the looting of the resources of Liberia by those in power who have proven to be incapable custodians of the public trust,” they added.
“Accordingly, both men pointed out that those who threaten the peace and stability of Liberia would bear the full consequences for their actions, as they would be held accountable under Liberian and international laws, emphasizing that Mr. Weah is no exception, as no one is above the law and there is a need for Liberia to truly become a country of law and not of men.
“We also recommend that the Boakai administration hit the ground running – so to speak – by also announcing the beginning of a “process of national reconciliation.” There is a need to establish what could be called a council, committee, or an entity in line with a “Palava Hut” format that should be fully funded to begin the reconciliation process expeditiously,” Abalo and Williams stressed.
They warned that the country’s progress would continue to be snail-paced or stalled as long as the new administration is unable to initiate a process of national reconciliation and healing to bring Liberians together.
“Meanwhile, the men have condemned the spate of violence that led to death and property destruction which characterized the country’s 2023 electoral process, and have made a call for a comprehensive investigation of such heinous acts.