LIBERIA: Civil Society Council Joins Call For Dismissal Of Sanctioned Officials

National Civil Society Council Chairperson Madam Loretta Alethea Pope-Kai

President George Manneh Weah is still being pressured by a host of pressure groups including the umbrella organizations of all civil society organizations in the country, to immediately dismiss and prosecute the three top government officials following their designation by the United States of America (USA) through its Department of Treasury Office of the Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

It can be recalled that on Monday, August 15, 2022, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated three top Liberian government officials including Nathaniel McGill, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Sayma Syrenius Cephus, Solicitor General and Bill Twehway, Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA) for their involvement in ongoing public corruption in Liberia.

According to a U.S. State Department Report, these officials are designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world.

“Through their corruption these officials have undermined democracy in Liberia for their own personal benefit,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson.

“Treasury’s designations today demonstrate that the United States remains committed to holding corrupt actors accountable and to the continued support of the Liberian people.”

In view of the damming report, President Weah swiftly moved to with immediate effect suspend all three named officials to enable them to face investigation.

However, the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL) doesn’t see this as the best action to the fight against corruption, and as such, it has called on the Liberian leader to dismiss those officials so as to restore the dignity of Liberia.

With such a damaging report from the “world’s biggest power’ on the three of the “most influential” figures in the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led government coupled with continuing reports of different forms of corruption including “ill-acquired” wealth, the Civil Society Council in a statement pointed out that the time is now for President Weah to take concrete action beyond suspension.

“The Council calls on President Weah to take some concrete steps beyond the suspension to save the image of the government from this embarrassment and ensure public trust by dismissing, prosecuting, and confiscating of ill-acquired properties or wealth and barring of said officials from participating in political affairs and governance of the state,” said the statement under the signature of Madam Loretta Alethea Pope-Kai, Chairperson of the Council.

“With the latest action of the United States Government, the National Civil Society Council of Liberia further calls on the government to begin beefing up the fight against corruption and impunity by strengthening integrity institutions, and setting up an anti-corruption court to fast-track corruption cases. We further call on the President, in line with the Code of Conduct, to ensure all public officials contesting for elected positions declare their assets and make them public,” asserted the CSO Council.

The Council also called on friendly governments and international bodies including the UK, European Union and African Union to follow the same steps of the Government of America to investigate and designate officials of the Liberian government that are involved in corruption, thus leading the country to poor public service delivery and undermining the peace and security of the state.

Council warned all public servants, officials and employees of government nurturing corruption and bad governance and embracing the culture of impunity to now begin to rethink and act accordingly.

NCSCL then lauded the US government for its latest action, noting that said action has reassured the Liberian people of the US government commitment to stand with Liberia in fighting the menace of corruption as these acts of corruption undermine and threaten Liberia’s overall democratic governance space.

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