President George Manneh Weah seems very passionate to strengthening traditional and historical ties with the Government of the United States especially, under the administration of U.S. President-elect, Joe Biden.
At least that’s what Mr. Weah said Sunday, 08 November in an Executive Mansion press release issued in Monrovia. “As Liberia’s traditional ally, we stand ready to further enhance and rekindle our long, historic and unique bilateral relations,” President Weah is quoted as saying.
While it is expected of governments around the world Liberian being no exception to seek ways to enhancing bilateral relations with America, the world’s greatest democracy, the Weah administration should understand that such commitment are not mere words, but should be demonstrated based on share-core values.
Respect for rule of law, democratic rights, human rights and critical opinions, including free speech, accountability and pluralistic media, among others are foundations upon which such cooperation grows, particularly with the United States.
If unfolding developments between this administration and the Government of the United States especially, under out-going President Donald Trump in the past three years are anything to gauge by, the Weah administration needs to work overtime to restore absolute confidence.
Firstly, the unscrupulous handling of Liberian diplomatic passports under President Weah that saw deviant individuals particularly non-Liberians with internationally questionable characters parading the world as diplomats from Liberia, which led Foreign Secretary Mike Pompeo imposing travel restriction on former Liberian passport director Andrew Wonplo and his immediate family in September “due to his involvement in significant corruption” is one issue that needs to be addressed in its entirety to restore trust.
Secondly, mysterious deaths in the past one month coupled with political violence on the way to senatorial election in December unpleasant situations that attract global attention and beam spotlight on a country’s governance process.
President Weah should know that mere assurances from the lip would not make any significant difference in U.S.-Liberia relations unless these fundamental concerns are addressed in a transparent manner. More demonstrated actions would be required in the years ahead if Washington would open its doors with red carpet as it did for Mr. Weah’s predecessor.
Off course, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf came from the Washington bureaucracy and she understands its twist and turns with a female face. But Paul Kegame of Rwanda came from the jungle with his RPF rebels and became a darling of the West.
President Weah would need to watch his steps and friends as he tries to get America’s attention that he desperately needs to make a mark on the world’s stage of global leadership. This means he would have to listen enough not just around him, but from afar to understand early warning signals and be able to adjust in time in order to keep pace with Washington.