Our Support for Dee-Maxwell Kemayah’s Confirmation
WE ARE COMPELLED to do the rare thing of tendering our support for an official of Government for senate confirmation—in this instance, Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Foreign Minister-Designate of the Republic of Liberia. The senate has announced his confirmation hearing following his nomination by President George Manneh Weah as Minister of Foreign Affairs. Before his nomination, Ambassador Kemayah was the immediate-serving Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and all of its Organs. Earlier before going to the United Nations, he was appointed the first deputy minister for administration at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the President upon the takeover of state power in 2018.
DOING THIS USUAL thing—standing with Kemayah for confirmation—is not because of his academic accolades and long professional profile or because he is the “luckiest boy” of this regime who alone has gotten three appointments in three years under the George Weah regime. We are rather compelled to do because something is at stake and he could be an ideal person to salvage the situation. His handiwork, his breakthroughs on the world stage at the United Nation in just two years, assures any critical-minded person that he’s up to the onerous task presiding over Liberia’s current Foreign Service challenges.
WHAT IS PARTICULARLY at stake is that things are grossly dim for Liberia’s foreign relations since the current political administration came to being. Before the Weah regime, there was an Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration which unlocked the international walls and barriers that closed on Liberia for nearly 25 years of this country’s existence. The nine-year Samuel K. Doe regime crashed Liberia’s standing on the international stage and the 14-year civil conflict worsened the situation. But thank God the country elected its first female president who enjoyed massive favor from the global community due both to the feminist empathy she enjoyed and her innate dexterous mastery of international relations. Before Liberia entered the first two quarters of her first tenure, nearly every door that was closed on the country opened and the shakers and movers of world affairs either came to Liberia or she was invited the former President for breakfast. Under her regime, the country’s nearly five billion United States dollars debt was waved.
THAT CHERISHED LEGACY is waning, if not already obliterated. Even Liberia’s biggest friends, including its “quasi colonizer” United States of America, as well as China, United Kingdom and others, is yet to send a middle-level State Department official here in the last three years. And it is needless to mention any high level official visit of a top Liberian official, including the President, to the White House. From this, it is clear that one does not have to have a diploma, let alone a Doctorate, in Diplomacy to know that there is a fundamental problem—a serious foreign relations problem on hand. And such a problem, we are sure, is not because the current president has a bad international image. He’s neither a war lord, nor a dictator nor an odd ideological fanatic. THE PROBLEM IS that the foreign service engineers in Monrovia at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by the Minister, have failed to step out and step up.
BUT IN THE last two years of his incumbency at the United Nations as Liberia’s Permanent Representative, Dee-Maxwell Kemayah, not only imbibed the intricacies and workings of the international world, he also explored and mastered the international diplomatic ecosystem which enabled him to open countless doors and endeared himself and the country to the hearts and minds of global community. He took her prestigious portfolios entrusted to him by the UN Secretary General and other bigwigs of special organs and agencies. He’s visible and made Liberia visited during his short stay. He drew the UN’s attention to a plethora of world issues, for which diplomats from around the world admired and respected him.
DON’T FORGET: SERVING at the United Nations did not make him the chief foreign policy consultant of Government. He was simply an agent of his bosses at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who are the direct driver of the country’s foreign affairs. Amb. Kemayah had his limitations at the UN, despite the fact he interacted with several diplomats. His assignment was at the United Nations only and those who represent their various countries to that world body. He had little or no latitude to explore the political world field and interact with foreign presidents and others.
BUT THE FACT that he flew the Liberian flag so successfully as was rarely done, serving as head of countless strategic committees of trust at the UN, delivering important speeches at strategic sessions, familiarizing himself and Liberia with other strategic foreign ambassadors and business leaders, amongst other things, make him an idea person for now to preside upon the country’s dwindling foreign service agenda.
YES, IT IS true that there are veteran diplomats here and there that could also be. There are diplomats with higher academic accolades and long experience. But this is not just about accolades and long experience. Compared with Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, most of these Liberian diplomats if not all are now obsolete on the world stage. They are less familiar and less-fresher with contemporary diplomacy. Those they might have worked with are no more in the corridors of world affairs. But Dee-Maxwell has just had for two years of intensive and fruitful practical experience—firsthand and fresh experience that make him better over many others. He has the contemporary gist and details of the complexities of the world’s diplomatic ecosystem. And his achievements, as cursorily reported in the September 21, 2020 edition of The Analysts, speak volumes of what he is able to practically achieve as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
WE THEREFORE CALL on the Senate not to attempt to gamble with the confirmation of this fine, results-getting Liberian diplomat; for doing so will be like gambling with the country’s foreign agenda and economic standing, which are key to it national stability and development. And gambling with his confirmation will also wreck all that was achieved to rescue this country which was dubbed—and actually was—a pariah and internationally estranged country.