Liberia: Lewis Brown Alarms over ‘Threat’ from Pres. Weah on His Life

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MONROVIA – Former Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Lewis Brown has termed as a complete mockery and lack of clear understanding of foreign relations and diplomacy claims and threats raised against him by President George Manneh Weah for his replacement at the UN.

It can be recalled that, Mr. Brown, former Information Minister, was named Liberia Permanent Representative to the UN by ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf few months to the expiration of her second term.

He was retained following the inauguration of President Weah in 2018, but recalled seven months later.

Delivering his regular sermon at the Forky Klon Jlaleh Family Fellowship Church on the Roberts field Highway, outside Monrovia on Sunday, October 2, President Weah, for the first time, disclosed reasons for recalling Mr. Brown from the post.

President Weah also referred to Mr. Brown as a “rebel.”

He claimed that Ambassador. Brown requested him to go to Nigeria to serve as Ambassador, but he refused, something which he claimed, is making the former him (Brown) unhappy allegedly asked him to go to Nigeria to serve but he Weah refused something that is making him unhappy.

“I sacked him because he failed to listen to the government of the day and the good practices of diplomacy.  He doesn’t know the difference between America and Liberia. He doesn’t know that America is our traditional partner. In the ministry, that man was asked to vote for America; he voted against America. He thinks he’s a rebel. He was sacked and he is now making lots of statements against the government.”

President Weah also accused Ambassador Brown of being among those who doubted his presidency.

But speaking when he appeared as guest on Spoon Talk on Sunday, Ambassador Brown stated that though he remains grateful for serving Liberia for few months under the administration of President Weah, the Liberian leader does not clearly understand the workings of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He justified that his vote taken at the time was not done on his own because he represented the government and people of Liberia at the UN where the best represents their respective nations.

“It’s quite unfortunate that even after five years, President Weah does not know how the Foreign Ministry works and the President is the Chief Architect of Foreign policies. No Ambassador, let alone the Ambassador to the United Nations, will vote contrary to the instruction of his government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. So, the President lied. What he did was purely offline. Seeing those words from him, every Ambassador everywhere will laugh at President Weah because it doesn’t work like that.”

He stressed that “at absolutely no time the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under President Weah instructed me to take a vote in favor of America under President Weah which I did not take.”

What was the vote?

Ambassador Brown disclosed that the vote which President Weah referenced during his sermon was not taken under his administration.

He termed the act as a complete “mockery” because Ambassadors do not go around explaining about their countries decisions taken on issues at the UN.

 “People do not vote their desire, will or feeling at the UN. They vote on the instruction of their government.  He (Weah) made a mockery of himself. Perhaps the vote which President Weah was referring to, which occurred under President Sirleaf, was the vote on the state of Israel. It was the vote to transfer the capital of Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

Ambassador Brown pointed out that the proposal which was heavily supported by the United States at the time went before the United Nations Security Council, but was “overwhelmingly defeated.”

He claimed that only the US voted for the change of Israel capital to Tel Aviv when the matter was before the security council of the UN.

“It (change of Israel capital) came to the General Assembly where Liberia was expected to cast a vote because we are not a member of the Security Council. When it came to the General Assembly, my duty was to inform the government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about the nature of the vote to be taken. The vote was not a US vote.”

Ambassador Brown disclosed that he informed the government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in keeping with his obligation and duty, and the Ministry acted also by informing Madam Sirleaf.

He stressed that President Weah does not know or clearly understand that early the year in which the vote was taken, members of the African Union (AU) met  at its regular  summit of Heads of States in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with Madam Sirleaf representing Liberia.

The two-state solution

During the summit, he disclosed that the AU resolved to support a “two-state solution” which recognizes that Israel and Palestine existed side-by-side with recognized borders and because of its holy historicity, Jerusalem should not be a capital for any of the two.

Ambassador Brown pointed out that in recognition of the “two-state solution” endorsement for the situation in the Middle East, the AU resolved that Jerusalem must not be the capital of Israel and Tel Aviv must remain, with both nations having access to the Holy City.

He added that the decision was passed in a resolution signed by Liberia and other nations.

“So when the issue came about for moving the capital (of Israel) from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, this smacked the decision of the African Union in the face. And therefore, I was instructed to vote on the side of the African Union’s decision and resolution.  By the way, it so happened coincidentally that I was not in New York; I was in Monrovia consulting with my government. I have been recalled for consultation on that vote and other matters because it was important to Liberia.”

“A decision was made by the government and my representative who deputized for me during the vote actually followed the instruction as provided from Monrovia in voting while I was in Monrovia. It does not excuse me because, if I had been there, my duty was to vote as directed by the government I was representing. That’s what diplomacy is.”

Ambassador Brown added that the US’ interest was overwhelmingly defeated at the time in favor of multilateralism though it previously expected Liberia to go in its favor.

He said the vote was intended to oppose unilateralism and to avoid the invasion of another country through violent means and for the “common good of the world.”

“What multilateralism means is that, the world must come together to tackle difficult situations. It doesn’t matter how big or small a nation may be, but some challenges the world may face can only be resolved by working together.”

He maintained that Liberia could have gone against its own decision taken to endorse the AU resolution if it had voted in favor of the US on the matter.  

He claimed that most of the nine nations that voted in favor of the US’ interest were “small island nations,” apart from Togo.

Nikki Harley at the time was representing the US at the UN.

When quizzed whether the communication he received from the US’ Representative was discussed with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Madam Sirleaf, Ambassador Brown stated: “I am too responsible to say out every bit of conversation I had with the President.”

He disclosed that everything Madam Sirleaf and her government needed to have them inform was provided by him.

“Even if President Trump had written me to vote for moving the capital of Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, who was I under obligation or who’s instruction was I under obligation to carry? President Sirleaf is not someone who makes uninformed decisions by the way. No reasonable person will ask me what advice I gave the President.”

Ambassador  Brown stated that President Weah’s suggestion that the US is annoyed with him (Brown) or his singular vote even though he was not present when the vote was taken, instead of getting mad with the Liberian government in particular, is a “ludicrous and  preposterous “ reason given by the Liberian leader to fire him.

“Today was the very first time I heard any official of the government saying why I was recalled.  No Ambassador vote the way they feel. You vote only as instructed by your capital and your government”

Destroying Liberia’s relation with US

He further alleged that President Weah appears to be destroying Liberia’s traditional and historic relationship with the United States, instead of fighting to keep it.

He said if the US government felt offended at the time as per the vote taken by Liberia, it could have communicated to Madam Sirleaf.

“I can tell you what has worsened Liberia relationship with the United States in President Weah five years. The US will not hate you for doing what you believe is right or is in the best interest of your country; they will only encourage you to do that. Did you hear about any sanctions under President Sirleaf for a vote that Liberia took? Today, President Weah who claims that he’s protecting this special relationship with the US said he fired me. Why that information was not given to President Sirleaf? Was President Sirleaf not in a better position to dismiss me because I acted on my own?”

On request to go Nigeria

Ambassador Brown further denied the claim made by the President that he requested Senator Edwin Snowe to request for an ambassadorial job to Nigeria on his behalf.

He recalled that he received a call from President Weah who made a request to send him Nigeria as Ambassador barely two weeks to the famous June 7 demonstration in Monrovia.

“I said to him, Mr. President I am not sure. At that time, I was poised to return to the United Nations in another capacity that Liberia had nothing to do with because of the respectable role I played at the UN. I was urged to return when I got this call from the President.”

Ambassador Brown disclosed that for days, his resume was requested for by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs Gbenzongar Findley based upon an instruction from the President.

He noted that a phone call was made to Senator Edwin Snowe after he was struggling to make a decision on whether to accept the offer from President Weah or go back at the UN.

He disclosed that the former ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia (who he did not name) and Senator Snowe made a passionate plea for him to accept his nomination as Ambassador of Liberia to Nigeria.

 “It was the ECOWAS Ambassador who begged me said ‘Ambassador Brown qualified people like you sitting and your country is falling apart. Please, I beg and asked on your behalf. I told the President that qualified people like you can’t just be sitting in this country and this country is running like this.’ And I told him, Ambassador, I beg you-I am not in the position to accept. I have never asked any President or government for a job. I served in two governments. It has been Presidents asking me through earnest service to join their governments to serve. President Weah lied; I never asked for a job.”

After about a week, He recalled, that Minister Gbenzongar Findley called again asking about his decision at the time his wife was requesting him to turn down the offer and return to the UN.

He said his decision to reluctantly submit his resume for the job intended to not reject an offer from the President because, his residence remains closed to the Liberian Chief Executive and rejecting such was not an option, adding that, “presidents don’t ask you and you say no.”

Ambassador Brown added that following the move, he contacted the Liberian Ambassador to Nigeria and reported the decision taken by the President to nominate him to similar post.

Why the nomination did not hold

He said after the June 7 protest, a publication was made in a local daily listing alleged former corrupt government officials, including him.

According to him, the situation was shocking; because it came at a time he has just been asked and accepted to take up a government job in Nigeria.

“I called the former Solicitor General and asked what this is about. I threatened to go to court and went to see my lawyer and my lawyer told me that this has nothing to do with law; it has something to do with politics; I suggest you deal with it politically. I wrote a response and published my response.”

“A couple of weeks later,  I heard that the President went to Nigeria and said at the Liberian embassy that the Ambassador there should hold on. I subsequently got a letter clearing my name. I learned that all of these were intended to forestall the June 7 demonstration by pointing out individuals so that the government can appear to be more accommodating.”

Ambassador Brown claimed that those listed to be corrupt former government officials were singled out and believed to be financiers of the protest headed by renowned Liberian talk show host Henry Costa.

He reiterated that President Weah “lied on an altar, the most sacred place of a church.”

On rebel and crazy

“He’s calling me a rebel and I think I am crazy, there are other people that are crazier than me. This is very serious and he’s warning me to take his threat seriously. It was a coded message that President Weah was sending to me that I should be careful with my life. I don’t also take it lightly. ”

He noted that President Weah reached out to ask for his support in 2011, but he responded that he was not the right choice of the Liberian people at the time.

Ambassador Brown emphasized that President Weah’s statement was “reckless and based on gossips.”

“President Weah cannot run me away from this country. I don’t think myself as a rebel; to democratically defeat you does not make me a rebel. I gave too much to my country; I am here by choice and I respect public service to my country. You can threaten my life, but you will not run me out of Liberia. I don’t think I’m crazy. But you are unfit and incompetent to be President of our country. And to have used the holy pulpit as you did today is quite beneath the office of the President and the word of God.”

 ‘This is a country where we are still trying to find out how auditors who were auditing government accounts die, rising crimes, a transit point for drugs and President Weah is yet to answer to claims that he is a rebel and he failed to answer that he financed the ousting of an elected democratic government. On one side he’s a man of peace, on the other he’s a rebel. My life is in George Weah’s hands.”

Beat him like an old drum

Speaking further, Ambassador Brown alleged that after five years into his administration, President Weah has done nothing as evidenced by his government’s “international gaff” performance.

He said President Weah does not have the temperament of fortitude to clearly understand “how things work.”

Ambassador Brown said if Ambassadors are voting at their will and pleasure under the Weah administration, it is now time that his government be replaced come 2023.

He expressed the hope that President Weah will be beaten “like an old drum” come the pending elections because he has allegedly disappointed too many people and the nation in general.

He noted that the CDC led-administration has failed and disappointed the Liberian people and it is now time for it to be replaced through the democratic process.

“This is the President of our country saying that he heard-whether someone went to him to gossip or he has a tape-of me saying that he will not go to the next elections. I have repeatedly said we will beat him and that’s the truth. The same people who voted for him will vote against him. He has taken that to throw a threat at me. I feel today that the President was threatening my life because I endorse another candidate other than him.”

Recently, Ambassador Brown endorsed the Standard Bearer of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) Alexander Cummings for the 2023 elections.

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