The George Weah government official delegation to Washington D.C. has been briefing Liberians on outcome of discussions reportedly held with U.S. officials. But the impact of taxpayers’ money spent on the six-member delegation to stay in Washington for about two or more weeks would be measured against citizens’ expectation and tangibles.
Since he came to office in 2018, President George Manneh Weah himself has visited the United States once) to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York. That visit was marred by Liberians protesting outside the U.N. headquarters demanding war and economic crimes court for Liberia, end to corruption, lack of accountability and bad governance, among others.
It has taken the Weah administration four long years to venture into Washington to talk with U.S. officials on progress and challenges in Liberia in a visit that stopped short of going anywhere near the White House, official home of the U.S. Presidency.
A government press release issued in Monrovia says the recent delegation included Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Mr. Samuel D. Tweah, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Nathaniel F. McGill, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs. Williametta Saydee-Tarr, Minister of State Without Portfolio, Mr. Trokon Kpui and Mayor of Monrovia Mr. Jefferson Koijee.
A marked departure was the conspicuous absence of Liberia’s Foreign Minister Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah on the trip to Washington, D.C. amid rumors that he was denied visa at U.S. Embassy in Monrovia. Minister Kemayah previously served as Permanent Representative to the United Nations for this current administration.
However, the delegation claims to have met several senior U.S. officials, including Congressional leaders, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, who previously headed the Embassy of the United States in Monrovia, Deputy Assistant Secretary from the Bureau of African Affairs, Mr. Michael C. Gonzales, Madam Lisa Peterson, Acting Assistant Secretary and Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Mr. Scott Busby, among others.
Discussions and promises may take place, but what really matters is transforming talks into actions that would practically impact lives of people. The economy is in the red with citizens feeling the pinch. They hardly can afford to put food on the table daily and keep their children in school while prices keep skyrocketing, as government struggles to pay monthly salary.
Arguably, the trip was necessary, but long overdue. Many Liberians are of the view the Weah administration should have made such engagement with the U.S. government immediately after it came to power four years ago. That was not done. Instead, President Weah visited Paris, France and met with President Emmanuel Macron. He returned to Liberia with 10 million Euros.
Washington stood and watched as the new government settle down in Monrovia before appointing a new American ambassador to Liberia in January this year, replacing former Ambassador Christine A. Elder. Reactions from Liberians are mixed about the government delegation’s visit to America, with some skeptical that it would yield anything for their country while others say just by having these six officials taking pictures with some U.S. officials in the U.S. political capital, disproves recent rumors here about some members of the trip being faced with travel restrictions.
But real measurement of outcome of the visit would rest on benefits that come to the government that seriously needs help and the people of Liberia, as President Weah seeks a second term in office.