CENTAL Expresses Disappointment In Liberians For Electing Sanctioned Individuals
Full Press Statement Of CENTAL
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the media, fellow Liberians, and development partners. We would like to begin by appreciating the National Elections Commission for conducting a largely free, fair, and transparent process, despite some pockets of issues identified. We call for greater fairness, transparency, and freeness during the remaining periods of the election.
Most of all, we like to appreciate all Liberians who queued up on October 10, 2023, to exercise their democratic rights of voting for the leaders of their choice. The turnout of about 78%, as announced by the National Elections Commission (NEC) is particularly pleasing. In part, it signifies that Liberians have increased faith in the democratic process. We hail the exuberance exhibited by voters, some of whom trekked for hours in remote areas to cast their ballots. This is a demonstration of the belief of voters in the fact that elections remain the ultimate trump card to change the course of their futures.
During the period of the election, we at CENTAL developed a “Reference Guide” to help voters to make informed choices during the election. Amongst other things, we warned against voting people with questionable track records, particularly those sanctioned by the US government for significant corruption in government that undermine public interest and the country’s democracy. However, the results from the polls have shown otherwise. Three of the four newly sanctioned officials who contested were elected. While we are appalled by this decision, we will continue to engage with our fellow citizens about their roles in tackling corruption and holding officials accountable. We must also hasten to note that the government’s failure to engage the United States Government for evidence to aid in prosecution of sanctioned officials has made it possible that allegedly corrupt officials access state power, without having their days in court.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press, On October 24, 2023, during a congressional hearing to confirm his nomination as the new US Ambassador to Liberia, Mr. Mark Toner promised a firm position on corruption, accountability, and the rule of law when he shall have taken the helm of the US Mission in Liberia. He also expressed the commitment to continue the partnership between the United States government and her Liberian partners to help strengthen democracy and secure a brighter and more prosperous future for the next generation. His statement of commitment is similar to that made by his predecessor, Ambassador Michael McCarthy under whose administration several senior Liberian government officials were designated for corruption by the United States Department of Treasury, under the Global Magnitsky Act.
We are pleased by the anti-corruption commitments from the tipped US envoy and encourage him to do more to bring sanctioned and other allegedly corrupt officials to justice. Corruption remains the greatest threat to inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development in Liberia. We cannot afford to provide adequate drugs to our medical facilities when there are loopholes in the system being exploited by corrupt and unscrupulous politicians and other individuals. We cannot have quality teachers and students learning in a conducive environment in public schools across the country, when there are officials who use the national budget to channel public funds to their private businesses/facilities and those of their families and friends. These are just a few reasons why we will applaud any commitments to tackle corruption in Liberia, especially those from partners as critical as the United States Government.
In conclusion, we wish to make the following recommendations:
- We call on the new leadership of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to break the culture of impunity for corruption in Liberia by engaging the United States Government for evidence to aid prosecution of elected sanctioned officials and others accused for corruption and the abuse of public trust and resources. This is one of the initial biggest tests of the new LACC, as Liberians and development partners are eagerly watching to see the Commission’s stance on this matter.
- We applaud our international and development partners for standing by Liberia and Liberians in promoting the culture of accountability and transparency in the country. We call for greater collaboration and partnership, including support for LACC, civil society, the media, and other stakeholders playing key roles in the fight against corruption and bad governance in the country.
- We reiterate call for the Government of Liberia to provide adequate financial and logistical support to public integrity institutions, especially the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission that is leading the fight against corruption in the country. National government should muster the required political will to adequately support LACC to operate at full capacity.
- Finally, whilst we commend Liberians for the show on October 10, 2023, we would like to remind them that the job is not over yet. As a runoff election is slated for November 14, 2023, we encourage citizens to resoundingly come out to repeat the huge turnout on October 10. The bulk did not stop on October 10. It continues up to November 14 and ends when the final results are announced. Don’t’ let others decide for you. Be at the center of the decision-making process by showing up on October 14 to complete the task