Liberia, U. S. Officials Hold Talks -Focus on Elections, Good Governance & Rights Issues

MONROVIA –The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Dean of the Cabinet of the Republic of Liberia, Amb. Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr. on Wednesday, March 22, held talks in Washington D.C. with United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Madam Molly Phee. The meeting between the two officials of the sisterly countries at the U.S. State Department, focused on ways to strengthen democracy – with emphasis on the upcoming elections, as well as issues of good governance and respect for fundamental human rights.

According to a dispatch from the Liberian Embassy accredited near Washington DC, other areas of focus during the meeting were Liberia’s strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty in its war with Russia and the Weah-Administration’s admonition to regional leaders – ECOWAS to respect constitutional term limits and democratic order; as well as Liberia’s welcoming stance on the global front in support of human rights.

Foreign Minister Kemayah was  accompanied at the meeting by the Commissioner of the Liberia Maritime Authority, Lenn Eugene Nagbe, Information Minister Ledgerhood Julius Rennie, and the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Liberian Embassy in Washington D.C., Isaac C. Yeah, while U. S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs,  Madam Phee was accompanied by Mr. Brian Neubert, United States Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and Director of the Office of West African Affairs and Madam Caroline Dow, Liberia Desk Officer at the United States Department of State.

Assurance of Free, Fair Elections

During the talks, Foreign Minister Kemayah informed U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Molly Phee of President George Manneh Weah’s  unflinching practical commitment to ensure the conduct of a free, fair, transparent, peaceful, credible and inclusive electoral process for the ensuing October 10, 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections; aimed at the consolidation of Liberia’s democracy.

Ambassador Kemayah emphasized to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Molly Phee and the other United States Officials in attendance, the importance the Liberian Leader, President Weah and his Government place on further strengthening partnership with the United States, especially building on the irreversible gains of their longstanding strong traditional and bilateral ties as Liberia moves towards Presidential and Legislative elections in October 2023.

Foreign Minister Kemayah said this will further boost President Weah and the Liberian Government’s relentless desire to ensure that the October 10, 2023 electoral process is free, fair, transparent, peaceful, inclusive and credible, aimed at meeting international standard and best practice.

Foreign Minister Kemayah informed the U.S. Officials that efforts are afoot through a multilateral mechanism, involving the United Nations, ECOWAS, United States, European Union, United Kingdom and the rest of the Diplomatic Corps in Liberia for the Political Parties in Liberia to commit themselves to ensuring a violent- free electoral process through the signing of a “Peace and Unity Accord”, pledging a non-violent electoral process, and respect for the October 10, 2023 Presidential and Legislative Electoral Process.

Support for Ukraine

On the international front with a focus on the Russian-Ukraine Conflict, the Liberian Chief Diplomat reiterated Liberia’s unflinching commitment and support for the position of the United States, which backs Ukraine’s sovereignty and right to defend itself against Russia’s “unprovoked” aggression. Amb. Kemayah assured the United States Officials that Liberia will continue to remain engaged with its “brothers and sisters” in Ukraine and the international coalition for a peaceful solution to the ongoing unprovoked agression in Ukraine.

With respect to Liberia’s engagements with ECOWAS concerning regional peace and security, Foreign Minister Kemayah informed United States Assistant Secretary of State Madam Phee of President Weah’s  unreserved commitment in supporting, and continuing to be an integral part of ongoing initiatives geared towards the  restoration of democracy and constitutional order in neighboring Guinea and far afield Mali and Burkina Faso. Ambassador Kemayah stressed to United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Molly Phee that the Administration of President Weah holds the strong view that unconstitutional means of clinching to power is a threat to peace and anti- democracy.

“Madam Assistant Secretary of State, this is why at all of the ECOWAS Summits on Regional Peace and Security, our President, H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah has been very outright and vocal in admonishing his colleague Heads of State and Government that the consolidation of peace and security is only assured when there is strict adherence to constitutional term limits”, Foreign Minister Kemayah averred.

Foreign Minister Kemayah then used the Occasion to also seek the support of the United States for the Candidature of the Republic of Liberia for the Seat of Non-Permanent Member at the United Nations Security Council for the period – 2026/2027 at the elections to be held in June 2025 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and for Liberia’s Candidature for “Category A” Status at the International Maritime Organization elections; respectively.

Weah remains resolute in corruption fight

In response to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Phee’s count on corruption, Ambassador Kemayah also during the meeting, stressed to United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Madam Molly Phee that President Weah remains resolute in the fight against corruption, noting that President Weah has given “teeth to bite” to all anti-graft institutions in the country, including the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and the General Auditing Commission. Foreign Minister Kemayah further stressed to United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Madam Molly Phee that: “Public Service is for Public Good. The Public Sector is absolutely not the Place to come look for Money. The Public Sector is certainly a Place for Service; Loyalty to Country.

Public Service is a Privilege to Serve for the Good of the Public; absolutely not a right; in this case, the Liberian People; Public Service is not an obligation, but a Glorious Opportunity to demonstrate a Genuine Spirit of Nationalism/Patriotism to Country – Liberia and the Liberian People. Absolutely no patriotic and/or well-meaning Citizen of any Country in the World; including Liberia, should take any resource of such Country; including Liberia; be it a cent or any amount of a Country or Material resources for that matter and pocket such resources for personal benefit and instant gratification at the detriment of any such Country’s People and the Country. Any such act on the part of any such individual, no matter who, and which Country, is not only unpatriotic, but must be condemned in the strongest term, and completely brought to book”.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Kemayah reaffirmed to the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Madam Phee, the Government of Liberia’s intent to open a Career Consulate in the U.S. State of Minnesota to ensure that Liberians in Minnesota and the MidWest get the much needed opportunity to access affordable consular services at such Career Consulate-General when opened. Ambassador Kemayah further informed the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs that Liberia requested approval from the Government of the United States, and awaiting said approval.

Reform Process at Ministry of Foreign

Ambassador Kemayah further informed the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Madam Phee of what he referred to as the “Ongoing Uncompromising Reform Process at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia initiated by him when he assumed Office as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Dean of the Cabinet on October 6, 2020.

He recounted the Reforms to include, but not limited to the Twenty Percent – 20% reduction in the prices of Liberian Passports across the board, strengthening the acquisition and Administrative Procedures for issuing Passports, establishment and launching of Twenty-five (25) new Passport Application Centers in VFS Global facilities in locations around the World where Liberians are concentrated.

Others are strengthening the Financial Management System, and check and balance at the Home Office of the Ministry, and especially, in Liberia’s Foreign Service, the Launch in February 2023 of the Revised Honorary Consul Regulations to guide the recruitment/appointment process, conduct and the nature and scope of the operation of Honorary Consuls of Liberia around the World.

Foreign Minister Kemayah further informed the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs that under the recently launched Revised Honorary Consul Regulations, it is mandatory that all Honorary Consul Generals be properly vetted, in accordance with international standards, protocols and best practice.

Foreign Minister Kemayah reaffirmed Liberia’s support for the Candidature of the United States, represented by Madam Amy E. Pope for the position of Director-General of the International Organization for Migration – IOM at its elections in Geneva later this year, adding, “I met with the United States Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, Madam Michele Sison and the Candidate of the United States, Madam Amy E. Pope in Doha, Qatar, assured them of Liberia’s strong support for the Candidacy of the United States.

“We are confident that Madam Pope possesses all the relevant competencies, skills, experience and qualifications to head the International Organization for Migration, and add value to the IOM. We believe the ascendency of Madam Pope to head the IOM will also bring benefits to the Government and People of Liberia,” he disclosed

Further, Ambassador Kemayah recounted a number of initiatives and achievements of Liberia’s Feminist-In-Chief – President Weah for the actualization of his vision for women empowerment and political participation.

US Official Welcomed Min. Kemayah

The United States Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Molly Phee welcomed Foreign Minister Kemayah and Delegation to the U. S. Department of State, informing that it was a pleasure and opportunity to receive Ambassador Kemayah, and for them to meet on further strengthening the longstanding bilateral and traditional ties subsisting between the United States and Liberia.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Phee promised to follow-up on the request of the Government of Liberia for approval to open a Career Consulate General in Minnesota.

The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Madam Phee expressed commendation for Liberia’s support for the Candidacy of Madam Amy E. Pope; and for Liberia’s efforts and role along with ECOWAS and the Mano River Union, aimed at the restoration of constitutional order and democracy in Mali and Burkina Faso, and particularly, in the Republic of Guinea, and for the reform initiatives being undertaken at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; including, but not limited to the recently launched Revised Honorary Consul Regulations.

US Presidency Pleased With Pres. Weah

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Phee further welcoming Ambassador Kemayah said, The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr., President of the United States was pleased to see and welcomed President George Weah and Foreign Minister Kemayah at the White House on December 14, 2022, stressing that it was a Special Meeting with President Biden on the margins of the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Phee thanked the Government of Liberia for the many initiatives recounted by Foreign Minister Kemayah, aimed at improving governance in the country and promised the support of the United States Government.

The Assistant Secretary of state said the United States appreciates Liberia’s push for a Non-Permanent Member Seat on the United Nations Security Council for the period; 2026/2027, and for a “Category A” Status at the International Maritime Organization.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Phee also emphasized United States support for Liberia’s programs on anti-corruption as she urged the Government to do more to ensure that the programs are “enhanced and promoted”.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Madam Phee commended Liberia for the efforts and gains being made in abolishing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Liberia; stressing that it was a major achievement by Liberia to have recently witnessed the banning of FGM in Montserrado County by the Traditional Leaders of Liberia. She urged the Country through its Government and Traditional Leaders to continue with such endeavor in other parts of Liberia where FGM is also being practiced.

Private Companies Interested in Liberia

The United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs informed Foreign Minister Kemayah of the interest of some Private Companies of the United States of America to invest in Liberia in sectors of interest to their Companies; including, but not limited to the Railway/Transport Sector.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Madam Phee stressed that the interest of these American Companies to invest in Liberia is in line with the Investment and Trade Initiative of the United States for Africa, which was discussed between the United States and Africa, and announced by President Biden at the United States-Africa Leaders’ Summit held in December last year.

Responding Foreign Minister Kemayah welcomed the information and desire of American Private Companies to directly invest in Liberia; asserting that “when His Excellency President Dr. Weah assumed the Leadership of the Republic of Liberia on January 22, 2018, the President in his Inaugural Address informed Liberia and the World that Liberia was open and ready for business. Liberia’s Foreign Minister further informed the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State that President Weah in that Inaugural Address invited Foreign Direct Investors to come and invest in Liberia, noting that the President has since up to present continue to express Liberia’s openness and preparedness for Foreign Direct Investments, and for business in general.

Ambassador Kemayah emphasized that it is the Primary Responsibility of Liberia, like any other Country in the World, to create the enabling environment in Liberia for the business climate, adding that President Weah continues to repeatedly stress the unwavering commitment of the Government of Liberia to continue to do so.

US Private Sector Interest Welcomed 

Foreign Minister Kemayah stressed that it is welcoming, and will be so much of a good thing for Investors and private companies of the United States of America to directly invest in Liberia.

Commenting on the United States Office of Foreign  Missions Diplomatic Note of August 2, 2021, which explains the policy of limiting accreditation of individuals assigned to a Foreign Mission in the United States not to exceed Sixty (60) Months, which is Five (5) Years, and the March 16, 2023 Diplomatic Note from the Government of the United States, reminding the Government of Liberia of the aforementioned Five-Year maximum limit, Foreign Minister Kemayah acknowledged that Liberia has not been adhering to this Five-Year maximum limit regulation, and informed the United States Government that the Government of Liberia  remains very much committed to fully complying with this Five-Year limit regulation, and all other  Host Country regulations and laws, in line with Diplomatic norms and protocols.

United States Assistant Secretary of State Molly Phee and Liberia’s Foreign Minister, Amb. Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr. concluded by further acknowledging the strong bond of bilateral traditional relations and friendship subsisting between the Two (2) Countries, Governments and Peoples of the United States and the Republic of Liberia, and renewed their commitments as two Officials to further close ranks and work together for the further strengthening of the already unique strong bonds of the longstanding traditional Partnership and bilateral ties subsisting between the United States and Liberia for the mutual benefits of the Two Countries, Governments and Peoples; and in the interest of Multilateralism and the enhancement of international peace and security, and International rule-based order.

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