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Special Feature

President George Weah Inaugural Address on Liberia’s New Foreign Policy Agenda

Indeed Liberia has deeply changed the political pages of modern democracies across various continents by making history as the first sovereign state in the world to elect and sworn in office an acclaimed international soccer legend as President of the Republic, while in 2005 Liberia became the first African country to elect a female president. Interestingly this unique history of Liberia started in the 60s when the nation produced the first female president of the United Nations General Assembly. The three Liberians are President George Weah, former president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Mrs. Angie Brooks Randall.

The expectations of Weah’s leadership are sky-high among Liberians who believe are positives that the president will deliver on his promises of equality, rule of law, unity and better living standard for the poverty-stricken population. Interestingly, the excitement and enthusiasm that engulfed thousands of Liberians at the Sports Complex in Paynesville and others whose queued for miles to get to the venue signified a new dawn in the pages of Liberia. President Weah has risen from the slums of Clara town, outside Monrovia to the nation’s highest office after two unsuccessful attempts in 2005 and 2011 for the presidency.

Just like his predecessor, Johnson-Sirleaf, the Weah administration has inherited a task of removing greater number of poverty-stricken Liberians from abject poverty, provide electricity and safe-drinking water to greater population, ensure paved roads across the country, create jobs and quality education and affordable health care, among other pressing necessities.

But in his thrilling inauguration address as 24th President of Liberia, Mr. Weah said: “I am a humble today to be at this stadium that made me, I have spent many years of my life in stadium, but today is a feeling like no other, I strive to be excellent, and I can be successful.”
The address has been described as one of the best inaugural orations in modern history that addressed many pressing issues and reawaken hopes and motivation of the poverty driven people of Liberia.

The Tuesday’s occasion made Liberia the focus of international attention and at the same time captured on the front pages of global leading newspapers and in the headlines of top television and radio stations across the globe when former president Johnson-Sirleaf peacefully transferred power to President Weah, with thunderous cheers echoing through the stadium and across the country; something that hasn’t been done in Liberia’s 74-year of history.

The exciting speech was greeted with thousands Liberians waving flags and dancing through the various streets and communities across the country while others from the homes and entertainment centers followed the historic occasion via radio and televisions transmission.
In an astute speech of optimism, President Weah used the historic inauguration to set forth his administration foreign policy and domestic agenda constructively as he reached out to friendly countries and Liberia’s international partners especially to Washington, Beijing, European Union, ECOWAS, African Union, United Nations, World Bank International Monetary Fund and Arab League countries, among others.

From an analysis of the speech, President Weah’s foreign policy to some degree is contrary from that of former president Johnson-Sirleaf regime’s foreign policy. However, bother leaders foreign policies centered on the cultivation cordial friendly relations with governments, United Nations, Multilateral institutions, regional and continent bodies and members of the global system.

The past years of the nation’s dark history, the country was viewed by the outside world as a failed state, but the extraordinary display of diplomatic modus operandi and good leadership for the former administration, Liberia has since regained its status among the comity of nations.
The speech which was sharply delivered by President Weah also focused good neighborliness, respect for international orders, ensuring the prevalence of sub-regional and by extension guaranteed continental and global peace and security and respect for sovereignty. Generally, the address avoided too many big promises; instead his speech was people centered issues driven. Like former president Johnson-Sirleaf, President Weah vowed to root out.

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An analysis of the inaugural address shows that the CDC led-government foreign policy is formulated solely for national interests and its primary and obvious objectives entailed the maintenance of national security and the preservation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country, the promotion of peace and harmony based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, and respect for international orders. It also centered on securing the much-needed strategic partnerships with international players.

During the occasion, the president reiterated that his administration will build on the gains made by the former regime of Johnson-Sirleaf especially in the areas of free speech and press freedom, stability and peaceful co-existence but vowed to root out corruption.

Thunderous cheers echoed through the stadium and across the country, President Weah used the profound address to praise his predecessor Johnson-Sirleaf for laying the foundations on which he said Liberians can now stand in peace, stressing that “United, Liberians are certain to succeed as a nation, warning that divided the we are certain to fall.

Interestingly, the speech touched the relations between Liberia and the United States of America and seeks the United States continue support in various aspects based on both interests that tied to Liberia and America. The speech recounted Washington support to Liberia, describing the United States as Liberia’s oldest and reliable partner. The United States has also led the international efforts to end the armed conflict in Liberia through its financial support for the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL.

Besides, the Weah’s foreign policy also reflects Liberia’s relations with European Union and reiterate his administration desire for continue ties with EU, attributing his achievements to Europe. He also detailed some assistance the EU has rendered Liberia and continue to render the state the state; he has committed his administration cardinal ties with EU.

Still on foreign policy, the address documented Liberia-China productive and mutually rewarding relations, reflecting on the numerous supports Beijing has rendered Liberia in the areas of general economic cooperation, infrastructure development, agriculture, energy, education, culture and health and security development. The president used the occasion stress the maintenance of closer and stronger ties friendship and economic partnership with traditional allies and friends in the Middle East and revealed that Liberia is going to open of new avenues of engagements and mutual solidarity with other states.

With wild applauses from millions of Liberians and foreign dignitaries at the stadium, came the much awaited presidential policy on the fight against corruption; saying that his first priorities would be to root out corruption and pay civil servants “a living wage,” and encourage the private sector. He admonished the public to show solidarity for the tasks that lay ahead, saying with the collective determination of all Liberians and God above, his administration succeeded Queued for miles to get at the Sports Complex in Paynesville, the crowds singing, dancing and waved the national flag as they enthusiastically waited for the “country giant” president Weah to be sworn in office.

Meanwhile, foreign policy takes into consideration emerging events across the globe since foreign policy formulations and implementation takes into consideration domestic policy of a state because politics deals not only with government or state but also several dynamics that occurring at other states levels.

While international relations is a strategies of self-interest adopted by a state to protect national interest and respect to its sovereignty including independence, regulation, power, authority, government with the much needed goal in international system. Let us not forget that foreign policy and domestic policy are both interconnected because foreign policy formulation is originated from the inner of state programs which determines government developmental priories based on budgetary appropriation.

Liberia’s Foreign Policy is firmly rooted in its political ideology of liberalism and democracy while the guiding principles of Liberia’s foreign policy has been the maintenance of national security and the preservation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country, the promotion of peace and harmony based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.

The fundamental thrust of Liberia’s foreign policy objective before the mid-1960s was predominantly the maintenance of national independence, due to threats posed by the former colonial powers to the Lone Star of freedom and Liberia’s support to independence movement in Africa. The foreign policy objective, during the colonialism was the independence of African states and a devotion to economic, social and political development across the continent.

Liberia’s international stature and standing among the comity of nations improved immensely from the failed and pariah state situations of the 1990’s and early 2000 to a responsible and well respected member of the International Community. This new status of Liberia ensured particularly during the former era of Johnson-Sirleaf administration.

It is expected that new administration will understand that diplomacy today takes place among multiple sites of authority, power, and influence; at its essence is the conduct of relationships, using peaceful means, by and among international actors, at least one of whom is usually governmental. The typical international actors are states and the bulk of diplomacy involves relations between states directly, or between states, international organizations, and other international actors.

Political pundits have forecasted that the overwhelmed election of President Weah will translate into the creation of jobs that young Liberians desperately need, and improve of livelihoods and a basic ample income distribution for the bigger population.
Those that will be accorded the task to positively drive president Weah’s regime foreign policy and international relations should understand that diplomacy goes far beyond sparkling red and white wines, champagne, ceremonial dinner and soliciting financial and other hand-outs for personal enrichment.

This can be achieved if the rightful individuals with the education and academic credentials, technological skills are given the task to deliver. This requires a strong background of the diplomats from a multidisciplinary perspective since professional diplomacy is an appropriate instrument to perform this synthesis, to the extent that it can use its persuasive techniques in favor of businesses and investments and, simultaneously, prove to be politically and economically profitable to Liberia.

By: Josephus Moses Gray
Email: graymoses@yahoo.com

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