A local anti-corruption watchdog, Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia or CENTAL has put forward an eight-count agenda for the George Weah-led administration to urgently address in fighting the culture of impunity in the country.
Key among others, CENTAL urges President Weah and his officials to declare and publish their assets as important first step in promoting accountability and addressing corruption in government, as well as commission comprehensive audit of the past administration to ensure that those officials who embezzled public resources are identified and prosecuted.
It also wants the government to scrupulously enforce existing anti-corruption laws and policies, including the Code of Conduct for Public Officials, which among others, requires public officials to declare their assets as well as the establishment of an Ombudsman to oversee its implementation.
The CENTAL agenda was contained in a press statement release in Monrovia last Thursday, 22 February which coincided with the publication of the 2017 Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International, which globally ranks Liberia at 122, out of a total of 180 countries with a CPI score of 31, declining by six points from 37 in 2016 to 31 in 2017.
The German-based group says majority of countries in the world are making “little or no progress in ending corruption”. CENTAL says the only country Liberia has outperformed in the sub – region is Guinea that scores 27, noting that all other countries [except Guinea] have better standing and rankings than Liberia, including Ghana with the score of 40 while Ivory Coast stands at 36.
CENTAL says it is deeply concerned about Liberia’s continuous underperformance, especially its position as the second worst decliner worldwide, and points out that Liberia’s decline speaks to government’s inability to address entrenched culture of impunity and enforce existing laws and policies.
“Delayed investigation and prosecution of alleged corrupt officials, due to lack of political will, shielding of officials and appointment of relatives and cronies in key positions of trust, are seriously undermining the fight against corruption in the country,” it notes
We whole-heartedly agree with the CENTAL’s observation. Indeed, lack of political will coupled with shielding of officials and appointment of relative and cronies in key positions of trust are practices that are seriously undermining the fight against corruption in public places.
We join CENTAL in calling for a reversal of this trend, and genuinely believe the new administration headed by President George Weah has a unique opportunity to rescue Liberia from this quagmire.
President Weah must listen now, to avoid walking in these very missteps that have tainted previous administrations despite whatever good intentions they had, including his immediate predecessor. The Media and civil society are strong partners in these endeavors. All that we ask for is safe, secure and economically vibrant environment to thrive.