E -D -I -T -O -R -I -A -L
While the United States and congressional leaders are appalled by the interference of Russian hacking and in essence Moscow meddling in the 2016 elections that brought President Donald Trump to the White House, The Liberian Listener is shocked that that the United States is inviting Liberian presidential candidates to its embassy for “private discussions.” this is interference, this is meddling!
Engaging the United States constructively as an important transition comes to bear with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf expected to turn over the keys of the Executive Mansion by January next year, is not lost on Liberians. The Liberian Listener calls on Liberian political leaders and parties to weigh consciously the invitation by the embassy to invite candidates for Liberia’s highest office to its embassy, at a time when the United States itself is accusing another country of shifting the goal post. Liberia is a small country, but that doesn’t mean it is not a sovereign country, that doesn’t mean IT doesn’t have pride. Or must not do everything to preserve its integrity. Our country, enters a new era, in which its peoples want to see its leaders defend Liberia’s integrity and sustainable institutions that are democratically embedded and citizen-oriented. Will the Chinese also be inviting political candidates, and the French and the Germans, the British and especially Nigeria, given its strategic interference to fight Liberia’s war and secure its peace beginning with the 1990s?
While it will be unfair to compare the Russian hacking and interference in what is currently ongoing in Monrovia at the United States Embassy, The Liberian Listener notes, given American soft power and influence within Liberia, this purported indifference and interference could have effects on the pending elections, we therefore called on the United States to channel hearing what the parties have to offered through the Liberian press, and the media.
In a press release posted on its website, dated 5th May, 2017, the embassy said in its statement “We congratulate the Government and people of Liberia for their vibrant democracy and their successful voter registration process.
“We are initiating a series of private discussions with presidential aspirants of political parties who wish to engage with the U.S. Embassy.
“The first dialogue took place [few days ago] with Cllr. Dr. Jallah Barbu of the New Liberia Party. The U.S. Embassy will continue these dialogues in the weeks that follow in order to better understand the platforms, priorities, and philosophies of the aspirants. We wish Liberia a successful election that is free, fair, open and peaceful. U.S. Embassy meetings with political aspirants will be closed to the press.”
We understand the United States is our friend. But under what conditions and criteria are these discussions based? Was it sanctioned by the State Department, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who few weeks ago shunned the Head of the African Union whom he invited to Washington for a meeting and then boycotted the diplomat, instead leaving him to junior State Department staffers? And even at that the junior staffers were not available to meet the AU Chair Moussa Faki Mohamet, the most important and senior official on the continent, besides individual African Heads of State?
The Liberian Listener notes that American involvement in Liberia’s transitions and elections has a troubling boomerang, especially the 1985 election which it gave a passing mark while Liberians were crying in the streets. Calling the polls “acceptable by African standards” even as their support for dictator Samuel Doe was unflinching and unacceptable: arming him and giving him monies and support to suppress his own people, to protect American interests— Liberia went to war primarily because of the fraud perpetrated in 1985 backed by the United States and Washington. May we pause to ask: What are the patterns and case scenarios of inviting political candidates for offices, and especially the highest office in the land, by embassies around the world, and especially recently by the Americans? What happened to Liberian aspirants who refused to attend this “private discussion” which is closed “to the press?”
We note that the United States is global power and still the uni-polar power Geo-politically positioned to influence world events and especially in places like poor Liberia, dependent always on foreign aid. We note that there are many American institutions in Liberia involved in pro democracy work including the Carter Center, the National Democratic Institute, and many others currently engaged with political parties.
The Liberian Listener urge the United States Embassy near the Liberian capital, to encourage political parties to release their platforms through the media for consumption by the Liberian people, and all those interested in the ideas these candidates have to offer. Building sustainable institutions as Liberia moves into a critical era, calls for a national agenda that is independent in thought—especially that its leaders put the Liberian interest first, while respecting foreign powers, but also being mindful not to compromise the national interest.
The Liberian Listener thank the United States Govt. & Embassy for the many aid packages and especially for standing with the country during the Ebola scourge which saw massive deployment of logistics and personnel, hence, –and for also supporting the peace process and the many bilateral assistance it has offered Liberia over the years. This publication however notes the impending conflict of interest in this invitation—which also borders on Liberia’s sovereignty.