MONROVIA: Two former presidents of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) who are resident in the U.S. have issued a joint statement, heartily applauding the recent action taken by the United States Government to sanction certain senior officials of the Liberian government for their alleged involvement in corruption, human rights abuses, and other acts of bad governance.
According to the December 14, 2023 joint press statement from Messrs. Gabriel I.H. Williams and Emmanuel D. Abalo, as individuals who have dedicated their careers to promoting transparency, accountability, and good governance in Liberia, they believe it is imperative to commend and endorse the United States for these measures, which will contribute to the fight against corruption and bad governance.
“The U.S. Government’s decision to impose targeted sanctions on specific individuals sends a clear message that corruption will not be tolerated in Liberia and those responsible will be held accountable. Corruption poses a significant threat to the progress of any nation and, therefore, it is heartening to see the U.S. and other members of the international community standing in solidarity with the Liberian people in the pursuit of a more just and accountable society.
“We urge our fellow Liberians to view this development not as an act of interference, but as a call to action for all citizens to actively participate in the democratic process by exercising discernment in the election of public officials. Liberia’s progress depends on the selection of leaders who are committed to the principles of integrity, transparency, and service to the people,” the ex-PUL presidents stated.
They further conjectured that under Weah’s government, Liberia turned into a criminal state due to the nefarious activities of many senior officials of the outgoing government, as the US sanctions have shown.
“It is our hope that this sanctioning serves as a wake-up call for the entire nation to reevaluate and prioritize the qualities we seek in our leaders.
“For Liberia to enjoy sustainable development and to ensure significant improvement in the living conditions of the people, we urge all Liberians to work in our collective to reject corruption, which is like a cancer destroying the fabric of our society. This is why it is imperative to elect or appoint into government individuals with proven track records of ethical conduct, dedication to public service, and a commitment to the well-being of the Liberian people,” the duo said.
Williams and Abalo reminded Liberians that in April 2021, they wrote a letter to the Biden Administration, addressed to the U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, in which they cited widespread corruption, growing human rights violations, and other acts of bad governance under the Weah government.
“We recommended for the U.S. to impose targeted sanctions, including denial of visa opportunities to corrupt individuals and their families,” they said.
Meanwhile, the two have called on the incoming government of President Joseph N. Boakai to seek U.S. assistance to boost the fight against corruption, which is a key reason for the under development and poverty of Liberia and its people.
“We also renew our call to the President-elect to fulfill his campaign pledge to prioritize the fight against corruption and to form a government of national inclusion. We reaffirm our desire that appointment to the new government must be based on proven records of competence and integrity and not based on party loyalty, ethnicity or nepotism.
“As former officials of the Press Union of Liberia, we also continue to advocate for a free and responsible press that plays a pivotal role in exposing corruption and holding leaders accountable. We encourage our media colleagues to remain steadfast in their pursuit of truth and to serve as watchdogs for the Liberian people.
“We stand with the U.S. Government’s commitment to promoting good governance and combating corruption in Liberia. Let this moment be a catalyst for positive change, and may it inspire a renewed sense of civic responsibility among Liberians as we strive for a brighter, more prosperous future,” the two former PUL presidents affirmed.