U.S. eases $16bn tension

Liberian protesters demanding a return of an alleged missing $16 billion Liberian Dollars say they are aborting further nationwide protest amid the United States’ intervention to conduct a scoping mission to ascertain facts into the allegation.

An official of the Concerned Citizens United to Bring Our Money Back (COCUBOMB), Mr. Charles Roberts told local broadcaster OK Fm Thursday, 11 October that the group has ordered its mobilizers across the country to halt all mobilization because they are satisfied that the US is making intervention.

To ensure the effectiveness and integrity of the process, the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia announced Wednesday, 10 October that the U.S. and Liberian governments have agreed that independent forensic investigators will conduct their work with full access to information needed.According to the Embassy, this work will be conducted without the imposition of additional actors from the government, civil society, or international partners.

The U.S. Embassy indicates that through USAID, it has reached out to independent, internationally recognized firms with specialization in forensic investigations to conduct a scoping mission that could ascertain the basic facts of the alleged missing currency matter and determine to what extent a broader mission would be needed.

It adds that it is the assessment of the U.S. Embassy in Liberia that such a report would be the most credible and effective means to quickly determine the scale of the problem.Further, the Embassy notes that it would be an appropriate means for the United States to support the Liberian government and citizens’ desire to understand the allegations and facts.

If a broader and longer investigation were found to be needed after the scoping mission has concluded, the Embassy says the Liberian government could discuss next steps with international partners.The U.S. announced its intervention on Wednesday, a day after six persons including Deputy Central Bank Governor Charles Sirleaf, the son of former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf and Bank spokesman Cyrus Badio were been removed from travel ban by investigators.

They were placed on travel ban amid ongoing investigation by a special presidential investigative team surrounding alleged the missing L$16 billion that was printed, brought into the Country but allegedly vanished just in the time it was allegedly being escorted by armed national securities to the CBL from the Freeport of Monrovia.

But in a live appearance with OK Fm during an outside broadcast in Redlight, Paynesville, COCUBOMB spokesperson Mr. Charles Roberts indicated that his group was serious about a nationwide protest because it did not have confidence in a special presidential investigative team set up by President George Manneh Weah.

“So we are happy from the background of COCUBOMB that today the U.S. Embassy through USAID has agreed, they have sent names of institutions to our government to select one and that will be financed by our international partner, particularly the American Government,” he says.

He claims that the local investigative team comprises of friends and classmates to probe an alleged missing money issue that the president has already disputed.“But when he came back, he said he’s not even convinced that money is missing so he … set up a committee of friends…,” he alleges, and says COCUBOMB does not trust the committee.

With the coming in of the U.S., he indicates that the protesters are satisfied and they have told their mobilizers across the country to halt all mobilization.“Smith, I think the U.S… team is even giving us guarantee that the investigation will be done speedily as compared to the Liberian team. The Liberian team is saying indefinite time, but in six weeks they will come to the public, but it might last a year or years,” he continues.

Roberts claims that whoever took the money is the enemy of the state, noting that the group is not fighting against an individual but it wants to get to the bottom of the issue.He demands restitution of the money if the investigation establishes that money went missing.He claims that the president has given the outcome that he wanted in this matter, so COCUBOMB could not trust local investigation.

By Winston W. Parley

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