By: Steve Philip Thompson– Freelance Correspondent on European Affairs Based in Brussels
In a significant development, multiple sources within the European Union, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, have voiced their preference for opposition leader Joseph Nyuma Boakai Sr to win the upcoming runoff election and become Liberia’s next president over the incumbent, President George Manneh Weah.
Highly credible sources have divulged that many European countries believe that the Weah government is corrosively corrupt and profoundly inept to govern Liberia any Longer. This opinion is essentially formed on the basis that most of the funding or grants the European Union and development partners have given to Liberia over the last five to six years of the Weah presidency have either been grossly siphoned or in other instances badly mismanaged.
A prominent E.U. Ambassador representing one of Liberia’s largest development partners who prefers not to be named informed this writer that nearly all the European partners are disappointed in George Weah’s government and deeply nervous about Weah ruling Liberia for another six-year term.
This influential European Union Ambassador conveyed strong disillusionment with the Weah administration, remarking that…”Weah has failed the Liberian people. He has also failed us, who love and cherish Liberia. We cannot see the value of the over Three billion euro grants we have given to Liberia for developmental purposes and direct budget support. The healthcare system cannot cater to the health needs of the Liberian people as most hospitals are without drugs and medical equipment. The school system is appalling and does not give any hope to the young people of Liberia. Liberia is not quite peaceful and stable under the Weah administration with a slew of mysterious killings and reports of summary execution”, the Ambassador stated with his face drenched in frowns.
He continued, “The economy is bad and the Liberia people are suffering. We are not happy to see the people endure such difficult and painful socioeconomic conditions. He has failed in his promise to provide jobs for the people. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is nearly zero as companies are refusing to invest in Liberia because the country does not seem safe to venture into investments, and the government is allegedly requesting bribes from investors”.
Furthermore, another Ambassador stated that “the Weah government in addition to the many abnormalities occurring under their watch, has miserably failed to effectively engage and convince development partners on the need to increase development aid to Liberia. We hardly receive delegations from Liberia to give us updates on the state of the country. When they see the need to come to Brussels they can hardly make a fitting presentation to us. They don’t seem to have competent and experienced people in their cabinet.”
Our credible sources hinted that France, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and a host of other European nations hold these opinions about the Weah government and do not want Weah to continue as President of Liberia. A continuation of Weah’s rule which has so far proven to be dismal and plunged the Liberian people into economic hardship and misery, would no doubt create a fatigue on the part of Europen development partners which would potentially see them hold back aid from Liberia, a country where malaria and other curable diseases are exterminating the lives of citizens due to lack of drugs in public hospitals and clinics.
The Europeans also believe that Weah used undue and unfair advantages including inducing the electoral process with state funds to the disadvantage of his rival Joseph Nyuma Boakai. This was stated in the EU post-election observation report which has been forwarded to Brussels. This according to top sources in Brussels has informed the E.U. that Weah has lost favor with the people and doing all, hope or crook, to retain power and impose himself on the people.
These countries believe that at this defining moment in which Liberia finds itself with a rather gloomy future, Joseph Nyuma Boakai is the best option for the country. He has the wealth of experience and integrity to transform Liberia and restore hope to its impoverished and despairing citizenry. The Europeans unanimously believe that they can work with Joe Boakai to save Liberia from slipping into a state of dystopia. “We believe Joe is a compassionate man who is in this fight mostly for his country and people, not for personal aggrandizement, like we see the people currently ruling over the country sadly doing”, he lamented.
The outright rejection of George Weah’s re-election appears to be a Western consensus. In a confirmation statement recently at the United States Congress, newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Mark Torner intimated this,
“The United States is the largest bilateral donor to Liberia, with more than $5 billion in bilateral assistance since 2003. That assistance has paid concrete dividends in the economic, education, security, and public health sectors, but that progress has also been heavily eroded by growing lawlessness and corruption within the present administration. If confirmed, I will lead our embassy’s efforts to hold corrupt government officials accountable and keep Liberia on a path to self-reliance, so that ordinary Liberians see the benefits of private-sector growth and accountable government, and the country remains the United States’ most steadfast partner in Africa”.
Ambassador Torner sounds no different from his counterparts in Brussels and International Relationship experts say such comments from an incoming Ambassador at such a critical time When the incumbent Weah is locked into a fierce runoff with rival Boakai certainly signals disapproval for Weah in a subliminal tone.
The United States of America is Liberia’s oldest and largest historical Ally. Liberia was established by freed slaves who landed on the famous Providence Island in Liberia–in the 1920s. Liberia’s capital city, Monrovia was named after former U.S. Fifth President James Monroe. The U.S. holds huge influence over Liberia and for the most part sanctions almost everything in Liberia including the politics of the country.
The statement of Ambassador Torner confirms most of the skiving criticism made by his predecessor Michael McCarthy against the Weah government–from rampant corruption to lawlessness.
Toner told the U.S. Congress he was going to Liberia to continue the work of the Ambassador which means he is going to be tough against corruption and other vices chronic in Liberia.
From all indications, the West or the Global North from which Liberia gets the lion share of its development funding doesn’t want George Weah to continue as President of Liberia as they believe his presidency has potentially ruined Liberia and poses a greater danger for the West African nation if stays on for another six years.
However, the ball is in the court of the Liberia people to read the lips of the Americans and Europeans and act accordingly by voting against George Weah to usher in a new dawn and fresh start for their troubled country.
Liberia’s runoff election between Weah and Boakai who tied at 43% each is scheduled for November 14, 2023. The October 10th poll was reportedly marred by cheating like ballot stuffing and number altering on the ballot papers as well as inflated invalid votes–most against Boakai who was tipped or projected to win in the first round with about 54% of the votes.