Liberia: A Former US Ambassador Weighs in on Governance Lapses

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John Blaney: “In my view, Liberia needs clean government, rule of law with justice and respect, and stronger national identity with less tribalism and more equal opportunity. Do better on that and development with accelerate, given that Liberia is actually a richly resourced country and not overpopulated.”

Monrovia – Ambassador John Blaney, regarded as one of the toughest United States Ambassador to Liberia ever to serve in Liberia, remembered as playing a key role in stabilizing the country’s post-war transition, is rattling nerves over a recent Facebook post weighing in on governance lapses in Liberia.

In his post, Ambassador Blaney, who served from September 09, 2002 – July 13, 2005, suggested a cleanup in the post-war nation’s governance approach. “In my view, Liberia needs clean government, rule of law with justice and respect, and stronger national identity with less tribalism and more equal opportunity. Do better on that and development with accelerate, given that Liberia is actually a richly resourced country and not overpopulated”, Ambassador Blaney wrote.

Acknowledging that his own country, the US faces somewhat similar problems that need attention, Ambassador Blaney opined “Growing tribalism (Red vs. Blue) and racial issues, challenges to the rule of law and justice (the January attack on our Capitol, all the shootings), excessive income disparity— all made worse by often inadequate and strategically weak leadership, especially for the country that is key to the world’s attaining a better, safer and freer future for all.”

Addressing the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the former US envoy said countries will need to work together much better to overcome global threats to humanity such as pandemics, climate change, and other environmental problems. Adding, “there are many other grave threats out there; WMDs, wars, regional flash points, extremism, global Balkanization etc.”

On the whole, Ambassador Blaney averred, that while he is not pessimistic,  there has been much progress, and technology is boasting productivity quickly.  “The question is whether we can learn to govern ourselves better, and limit greed and extremism.  Young people seem to be more able and honest when framing and interrelating these issues, and I think they understand  better that many problems are not zero-sum games, and never really were.  In sum, we can go to the stars or join the dinosaurs, it’s really up to us.”

The Ambassador’s post has generate a lot of responses with some responders suggesting sanctions as a way forward.

Mr. John Blaney first I want to say thank you for your service.

Shem Sherman writes: “Only under one condition will Liberia get a clean government. That is, through sanctions by the United States on corrupt officials. Sanctions, sanctions, sanctions. Sanction is the path for integrity and accountability in Liberia. We need help in Liberia. The Liberian ppl need help. Our ppl are suffering. Please help if you can.”

Sherman asserts: “Liberia is the only country where you can work for the government for months and don’t receive any paycheck. A sitting Liberia senator is 10X more wealthier than a sitting US Senator. A Liberian Senator spend thousands more dollars on travel to foreign countries than a US Senator. They send their family to western countries for schools and medical reasons, embezzles etc ignoring the things needed to be fixed while the Liberian people suffer. You know how the system works in Liberia. Since you left Liberia to this point in time it has gotten worse. Sanctions, sanctions, sanctions are the only means to help fight corruption in Liberia and Africa at large.

Hassan Bility, Founder and Director of the Global Justice and Research Project(GJRP) declared that hypocrisy, jealousy and the intent to destroy what others have built can be considered as factors holding this country back from it’s forward march.

Sage Thomson suggested that superpowers like the US, EU and China forge a partnership with the government and People of Liberia and invest in Knowledge Infrastructure, starting at the kindergarten level. “Corruption is not the biggest problem in Liberia — what we lack the most is knowledge capital..  essentially that’s the currency you need for productivity, growth, accountability and development in any nation.”

For his part, Daniel Gala-Lamaleie asserts that Liberia’s main problem centers on the tribalization of corruption, justice, and accountability. “If we can depart from that ugly culture and begin to build our society on the respect for the rule of law where everyone is treated equally before the law followed by holding everyone equally accountable for their deeds, we can become a prosperous nation in no time,” Lamaleie noted.

Jim Bishop lamented: “Sad to say, but after 40 years working on Liberia including three years in the country, I believe you are right. Corruption is part of the culture and the country  will never realize its potential until Liberians reject corruption.”

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