Liberia: Rep. Acarous Gray Urges Foreign Ministry to Refute U.S. Congressman Chris Smith’s Allegation against U.S. Government
Monrovia – A National Executive Committee (NEC) member of the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Representative Acarous Moses Gray has descended on United States Congressman Christopher Henry Smith for his latest outburst against the administration of President George Manneh Weah.
Lawmaker Gray is representing the people of district # 8 in the 54th National Legislature on the ticket of the CDC.
It can be recalled that Congressman Smith, who is representing residents of the Fourth Congressional District of New Jersey in the 117th US Congress, described the CDC led-administration of President George Manneh Weah as a ‘kleptocratic’ form of government that remains beneficiary to only the presidency, while vast majority of citizens continue to suffer.
Congressman Smith is also the proponent of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which was enacted in 2016 by the US Congress and signed into law by ex-President Barrack Obama in 2017, to among other things, allows the U.S. government to sanction foreign government officials implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world.
In a virtual broadcast marking the first hearing of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on the implementation of the Act via cisco on March 24, Congressman Smith claimed that President Weah has been allegedly depleting the country’s coffers since his ascendancy to the Liberian presidency.
“In Africa, we have a special relationship with Liberia which was founded by freed American slaves. Unfortunately, President George Weah leads a Kleptocratic government that is engaged in political corruption from the day he assumed office by depleting the government coffers for personal use while the people of Liberia suffer”.
But in a statement posted on his official social media page, Representative Gray described the accusation as “spiteful claims”.
“My office has taken due cognizance of the mendacious claims made by U.S. Congressman Chris Smith accusing the Liberian government of being “Kleptocratic”. This is the second of such accusation in recent years by the American lawmaker. In 2019 he again falsely asserted that the Mayor of the city of Monrovia, Jefferson Koijee, committed abuses during the civil war as a child soldier – despite clear evidence to prove the youthful mayor never enlisted in any Army or militia”.
He noted that though Congressman Smith is entitled to his own opinion, he (Gray) categorically reject these claims; because they “aren’t the true reflection of what the reality is in Liberia”.
“The Representative has seemingly had a longstanding objection to Weah Presidency, if one can judge from his pre-election remarks about the ruling CDC. And so it appears he’s opting to fulfill his prophesy”.
As a U.S. congressman, Representative Gray maintained that, “his words carry a lot of weight, the reason they need to be well thought out and factual”.
“We are a country still struggling to build our institutions since the cessation of hostilities. Many studies have shown that the vestiges of the bitter war still remain. As a result, accusations of systemic political corruption have the propensity to rile up emotions – especially if they are specifically intended to be malicious”.
“The Rep. ought to be reminded that his claims run afoul to various bilateral and multilateral partners that the Weah administration has dealt with in recent years, including the IMF, World Bank, USAID, etc, who continue to lend significant support to the different sectors of the country in an effort to revive our ailing economy. Specifically noteworthy is the plaudits from the International Monetary Fund a few months ago to the government of Liberia for making ‘significant reforms’”.
Representative Gray pointed out that these kinds of support aren’t given to “Kleptocrats”.
“No wonder the U.S. embassy near Monrovia has distanced the Biden Administration from Representative’s remarks. They aren’t reflective of the generally held position of the international community, including many of my counterparts in the U.S. Congress”.
He stated that “as is the case with all democratic societies, opinions about the way the country is governed have been diverse” adding that, following the 2017 elections, some Liberians even took up extreme positions, including those in the diaspora.
“I therefore urge the Representative to endeavor to hear every side of the divide. For instance, despite the uproar from some in the opposition about the disappearance of Ld $16 billion, an internationally backed investigation, including a U.S.-hired institution, proved that no such money vanished. So If anyone should know the effect of mudslinging in a polarized political environment, it would be the Republican official”.
Meanwhile, Representative Gray has urged authorities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to engage the office of the US lawmaker in an effort to refute these “spiteful claims”.
He further called on the Liberian government to also engage Liberians in the diaspora on a regular basis to abreast them of the measures being taken to improve the living condition of the ordinary people.