President George Manneh Weah now appears sober and it resetting the governance radar. Critics have it, and perhaps rightly so, that despite his unarguable domestic popularity, he is doing woefully poorly on the foreign front. For nearly four years, the critics say, he is yet to go for a state visit in any major power of world, let alone any foreign power visiting Liberia. It is also said that his Foreign Service officials from Monrovia to overseas are square pegs in round holes, totally unfamiliar with prevailing global power play and therefore unable to make any significant move out there. Worse still, some say the Weah government was sleeping on the imperative need to seek the smile and embrace of even the country’s foremost traditional friend, former quasi colonizer and largest funder, the United States of America, which is also the melting pot of international interplay. But it seems the President and his key lieutenants are now awake to the long-down-played call for aggressive foreign engagement strategy. A powerful delegation is currently in Washington DC, and there is news that personalities of strategic importance are lending them a positive ear. The Analyst reports.
A high-level Liberian government delegation currently visiting the United States has reportedly been making significant diplomatic exploits in the US Capital of Washington, meeting key officials of the Joseph Biden administration and across the aisle of the US power base.
As irks was getting dry on reports that the delegation had met with influential Republican Congressman Senator Lindsay Graham, who committed himself to rallying his congressional colleagues of the Republican Party to sign a “Letter of Support” for Liberia’s second bid of the coveted Compact Program under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), there is another report that the delegation subsequently met with the Director of the U.S. President’s National Security Council, Madam Dana Banks.
According to a dispatch from Washington DC, the delegation discussed a wide range of issues concerning Liberia and the broader West African sub-region with Madam Banks, who is also President Joe Biden’s Special Assistant.
Banks assured the delegation that Liberia remains a strategic partner of the U.S, outlining key “contours” of the Biden Administration’s policy on Africa.
“This policy will be mutually beneficial to Africa and the US, and Liberia as a strategic partner will be very involved in our strategic approach”, Madam Banks said. “Some of the key contours of our Africa Policy will be addressing the COVID Pandemic with a focus on assisting countries like Liberia in their economic recovery efforts.
She said the United States is quite aware of the impact of the pandemic on economies in Africa and will work with countries like Liberia on this front.
The themes of the discussion included domestic and international security, the MCC Compact, Energy, with a focus on the Liberia Electricity Corporation, the fight against corruption and the upcoming bicentennial celebration of the arrival of freed slaves.
Banks pledged to work with Liberia in its drive to secure the second Millennium Challenge Corporation’s coveted Compact Program, as she outlined areas Liberia needs to continue making progress that would serve to encourage U.S. policy makers.
On the bicentennial, the U.S President Special Assistant, who has a wealth of experience on Africa, said the U.S. will work with Liberia to ensure the commemoration of this milestone program.
“Ours [policy] is a positive approach and posture towards Africa and we will be with Liberia with historical ties to the U.S. in commemorating the bicentennial,” she said.
Making remarks earlier, both Ministers Nathaniel F. McGill and Samuel Tweah Jr., of the Ministries of Sate and Finance respectively, who are senior members of the Liberian delegation, heralded President George Weah’s desire for more engagements with Washington.
“We are a country founded by freed slaves from the U.S. and Liberians hold the U.S. in a special place. We are therefore looking for more engagements”, the Liberian Minister of State for Presidential Affairs averred.
For his part, the Minister for Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah, updated Director Banks on Liberia’s economic resurgence, saying economic recovery after Covid is positive and that the government is committed to broader economic and investment climate reforms.
“The projections for our GDP now show that growth will reach about 4-percent”. He said through the “painstaking” macroeconomic reforms the government has undertaken, “we‘ve been able to obtain for the first time in ten years a substantial increase in domestic revenue generation
“The government economic and governance programs are already aligned to the Biden Administration’s Africa Priorities which is heavy on democratic rights.
Tweah said Liberia’s democracy is equal to that of America in terms of respect for term limits and fundamental freedoms.
President Weah even recently campaigned to reduce his length of time in office from six to five years, indicating his strong commitment to democratic values.
Meeting Senator Ted Cruz
Meanwhile, renowned Republican Senator, Ted Cruz, has also welcomed the Liberian government’s delegation to the U.S. Capital. During a visit to his office, he committed to be a strong voice in the U.S. Congress for Liberia.
“We share something in common, the Lone Star”, the Senator gleefully remarked – referring to the Liberian and the State of Texas’ flags that have the single white star.
“Also like President Weah and key members of the Weah led Administration who come from an underprivileged background. My father was imprisoned for his stance on freedom for the underprivileged”
He said he follows Liberia and will be a “voice for the country too along with Lindsay”-a reference to his congressional colleague Senator Lindsay Graham.
Minister McGill previously told Senator Cruz of the story of President Weah who emerged from the underprivileged class of Liberians to become the President of the country. He said this feat by President Weah has not gone down well with the longstanding Political Class of the country who go at lengths to malign and demonize the President.
Minister McGill then extended an invitation to the Texan Senator to visit Liberia and be a part of the bicentennial commemoration in Monrovia next year.
The former Republican Presidential Candidate said he will consider highly the request and could visit Liberia next year
The Liberian delegation is expected to meet with more Biden Administration officials, and Congressmen and Women across party lines in the coming days.
Meeting Senator Lindsay Graham
A day earlier, the GoL delegation was in conference with an influential U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham, who committed to rallying his congressional colleagues of the Republican Party to sign a “Letter of Support” for Liberia’s second bid of the coveted Compact Program under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
The MCC Development Assistance is a U.S. government foreign aid program that provides beneficiary countries time-bound grants which are targeted at ensuring economic growth, reducing poverty and strengthening governmental institutions.
The investments of the MCC do not only support a country’s stability and prosperity, but also enhance American Interests. Liberia has already benefitted from the MCC Assistance and Investments that led to more than 200 million dollars being spent on the rebuilding of the war-ravaged electricity grid of the country.
The well-respected Senator from South Carolina, while meeting with a high-level Liberian Government delegation which is currently visiting Washington DC, committed to working with his colleagues to get Liberia a second shot at benefiting from the MCC Strategic Assistance Program.