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Liberia in double standard on Israel?

President George Manneh Weah’s recent order to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah in Monrovia, to revoke Liberia’s vote against humanitarian ceasefire in war-torn Gaza is opening a can of worms in what seems to be clear double standard here, as the government had earlier taken a definitive stance on 12th December 2023 along with 10 other countries including the United States, against ceasefire in Gaza.

But overturning the decision in a brief statement here on Sunday, 17th December at a regular worship in his Forky Klon Family Church, President Weah said, as man of peace, he will not promote, vote, neither support war and political instability in another country. 

“That Liberian that voted against war is wicked and he voted himself; not us, and God will not spear that person’s life. They voted wrongly and we will fix it. Our vote will be with the other countries that voted for diplomacy and not war. Maybe, he was doing it to tarnish my character and government because we are leaving power. But I want to tell him or her that they are wasting time”, President Weah reacted. 

However, Liberia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Sarah Safyn Fyneah, clarifies that the Government of Liberia’s initial vote on UN resolution A/ES-10/L.27 on December 12th was based on a prior directive from the Foreign Ministry in Monrovia, which, she notes, unfortunately, contradicted President Weah’s and the government’s established stance.

Ambassador Fyneah in a press release from New York, laments that the discrepancy raises concerns about misrepresentation, prompting a need for President Weah to seek clarification from the Foreign Minister, who seemingly did not adhere to his instructions issued since 14th November 2023, more than a month before the UN vote.

“It’s important to highlight that on December 8th, I instructed the Deputy Permanent Representative to seek the Minister’s guidance to co-sponsor the draft resolution A/ES-10/L.27 but received no response.

On December 12th, I communicated with the Minister and the Acting Foreign Minister, to confirm their directive on the vote on the resolution. Acting on their affirmative response, I instructed a staffer to implement the directives”, Ambassador Fyneah explains.

She underscores that the responsibility for the inaccurate directive lies with the Foreign Ministry, noting that “it is crucial not to tarnish the reputation of Liberia’s diplomats at the UN who, despite challenges, continue to make sacrifices for Liberia’s visibility and contribution to the United Nations’ mandate”.

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The Ambassador refutes perception that Liberia’s Diplomats at the UN acted independently, and calls for review and clarification of misrepresentation. 

According to her, Liberia’s diplomats at the UN operate under the guidance and instructions of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, ensuring that their actions align with the country’s stance, adding that decisions are not made independently; instead, guidance is sought to accurately represent Liberia’s position.

But President Weah said he is innocent of the decision and knew nothing about it because his government decided in consultation with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to vote peace over war, noting that the person who voted in favor of continuous conflict, acted unilaterally based on personal interests. 

Mr. Weah explained that when the war started initially, he wrote a letter on November 4, 2023, to the Israeli Embassy, appealing to President Benjamin Netanyahu to consider diplomatic approach in restoring peace because, he argued, peaceful lives are being lost, especially children.

President Weah noted that he urged the Israeli President to exercise restraint for the sake of humanity and peace. 

At the same time, he clarifies that his resentment is not against the United States, but he stands with the United Nations and the rest of the world for global peace and stability. 

“How can a George Weah, President Weah that you know, vote against peace? Before voting, I met with the Foreign Minister as to how we will vote and we agreed to vote for peace and diplomacy to end the war in Gaza. I told him that if the entire world is voting diplomacy and peace, I can’t be left out as former Peace Ambassador. There is no way I can’t call for peace in another country”, Mr. Weah maintains. 

Foreign Minister Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, is yet to come clear on this situation that presents a serious embarrassment, not only to the administration but the country’s image internationally.

Liberia voted against a humanitarian ceasefire in war-torn Gaza on Wednesday, December 13, being the only African country that did so when calls are reverberating across the globe for an end to the hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

Liberia voted against Tuesday’s resolution along with the U.S., Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Austria, the Czech Republic, Guatemala, Micronesia and Nauru.

Liberia was among 10 countries, including the United States of America, which took that position during a United Nations General Assembly’s emergency special session on Tuesday, December 12. 

Despite the U.S. and Liberia’s effort to block ceasefire calls in the UN Security Council, a majority of 153 nations voted for the ceasefire resolution during the UN General Assembly’s emergency meeting session Tuesday, while 23 countries abstained from the process.

President Weah notes that he has never voted against the interest of the United States but, this time, he has to vote for peace when necessary, adding that peace and democracy should be the hallmarks for negotiations. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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