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Public outcry mounts against Weah

By Kruah Thompson 

A month after the United States Treasury Department designated three officials of the Weah administration for alleged involvement in public corruption under the Global Magnitsky Act, the administration continues to face massive public outcry, particularly against President Weah’s inability to oversee the affairs of the State.

The public outcry has been attributed to bad governance, lack of public confidence, credibility, integrity, and honesty.

Scores of individuals in the country have alleged that the president also needs to be investigated because he and his officials are building duplexes, using public funds and have failed to declare his assets since he took the helm of power in 2017.

Although no declaration has been made public since President Weah came to power in 2017, Liberian authorities said on January 23, 2021, that a declaration was submitted to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and there is no legal requirement for this to be published.

David Sonkarly a resident of Kpellahtown community in Sinkor told The NewDawn in an interview that it is clear the President might be affected after he leaves office in 2023 because it is difficult to believe that these three officials, who resigned on Monday, 12 September, committed said acts without the knowledge of the President.

“These are individuals who were very close to the president. Just imagine, to see the president you have to go through Nathaniel F. McGill, as it has been said by CDCians themselves,” he explained.

However, the Executive Mansion in a release said President Weah has accepted the resignation letters of the three designated officials, who claim they are innocent of any acts of corruption as labeled in the report published by the U.S. Treasury Department while vowing to exonerate themselves.

According to the Executive Mansion, President Weah has accepted the resignation letters of Nathaniel F. McGill, former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs; Mr. Bill Tweahway, former Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA); and Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, former Solicitor General.

But since the release, the government has faced criticism on social media and in news editorials in the country.

One social media user, George Watkins (political Watkins) wrote: “I think the resignation by those three (3) sanctioned top government officials is belated because they should have done that a long time ago. Shame on jorweah.”

“You wrongfully helped to deny Brownie Samukai from taking his seat in Lofa;
now see how God is serving him, Justice, against you. This is just the beginning of your sorrow many more to come… every one of you that was involved in denying him his right to serve his people will get the worst of punishment, this one da God self beating your so.” Another user Miatta Kandakai wrote.

However, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) welcomes the resignation of the three (3) officials and calls on them to declare their assets, incomes, and liabilities, as they exit government.

“This is in line with Part 10 of the Code of Conduct for public officials that requires them to declare their assets, incomes, and liabilities while entering government, upon being promoted, and upon leaving government”, Executive Director Anderson D. Miamen, read in a position statement Tuesday, 13 September.

He said the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission must legally ensure that they fully comply with this provision of the Code of Conduct, which is an important anti-corruption and accountability instrument, noting that failure to do so is a further demonstration of the lack of political will by the government to adequately tackle corruption, no matter by whom it is practiced.

“Notwithstanding, we reiterate the call for the President to immediately commission a full-scale impartial and independent investigation into the alleged ‘public corruption’ practiced by the trio, in their former capacities. Their immediate investigation and prosecution will somehow signal a revival of the President’s weak stance against corruption.”

He recalled that following the designations by the US Government, on Tuesday, August 16, 2022, President Weah suspended the concerned officials ‘with immediate effect to enable them to face investigation’.

“The statement conveying the decision, however, made no mention of the forum to investigate the matter. This is particularly confusing considering that the President had less than a month before signing into law a bill that dismantled the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), creating a successor commission that may not get afloat anytime soon.” Director Miamen added.

He said given the prevailing circumstances at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and the grave nature of the offenses these officials are said to have perpetrated, President Weah should establish an independent panel/committee to investigate these troubling allegations.

Meanwhile, presidential hopeful Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe said Monday, September 12, that the resignation of the three sanctioned public officials was done under pressure, because they did not resign willingly, but were pressured by the public to do so.

NewDawn

The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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