Liberia: Ruling Party Stalwarts Rebuke US Envoy for “Interference”

Flashback: US Ambassador Michael McCarthy speaks at an event at the US Embassy in Monrovia


— “Amb. McCarthy is interfering in Liberian politics. He is a foreigner, and he must confine himself to his position," said Senate Pro-temp Albert Chie, while  Gray has accused the US envoy of accusing the government from a “hurt” perspective.

US Ambassador Michael McCarthy has been rebuked by two stalwarts of President George Weah's ruling Coalition for Democratic Change for claiming that public hospitals have been  operating without receiving any of the “US$100,000 appropriated in the 2022 budget.”

According to Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie and Representative Acarous Gray, McCarthy's assertion is not actual but stems from his frustration at being recalled after “extensive and unjust” criticism of the Weah administration.

Chie, who is currently in Grand Kru County, noted that the accusation from McCarthy is false and is intended for the opposition during this election year, but the strategy would not work. 

“Amb. McCarthy is interfering in Liberian politics. He is a foreigner, and he must confine himself to his position,” the senator said. “ We don’t get up and tell Americans to vote for Trump or Biden, he has no right to come to our country and tell our people how to vote. "

“But he goes spreading falsehoods because this is an election year so that the opposition can be strengthened. But he lied. That is why Washington has recalled him."

Chie also rebuked McCarthy for claiming that members of the 54th Legislature have been “feathering their nests” with huge budgetary allocations while hospitals are left to “wither on the vine.”

The US envoy earlier noted that while the Legislature was allocating US$65 million for salaries and operations in 2022, all major public hospitals in the country were given US$7.1 million, “even though the allocation of the funds does not mean that they reached their intended destinations.”

Strikingly, McCarthy accused the Legislature of being part of a syndicate that involves the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and has led to the blocking of resources for county hospitals and county service centers.

However, for Chie, the Ambassador's revelation is misleading as the Legislature did not appropriate US$65 million for itself as claimed by McCarthy.

According to the senator, their budgetary allocation is not just for salary and operation, but to respond to the needs of their respective constituents, whether it is payment of school fees or other responsibilities. 

"If he wanted the correct information, he would have visited the projects of Senators and Representatives throughout the country. This is just one example, a folder in my hand with many requests from our people,” the Grand Kru lawmaker said.  “What do we do with the money we get? “

“We spend it on our people, we build clinics, we buy drugs for those clinics and hospitals, we build schools and pay teachers, we build guest houses, bridges, etc. That is what legislators all over Liberia do with their money. Have you ever seen a wealthy legislator in Liberia who has retired? Absolutely no!" 

McCarthy, according to Gray, has accused the government from a “hurt” perspective as he has been recalled from his position.

Gray, who represents Montserrado District #8 in the House of Representatives, noted that for McCarthy to make a sarcastic statement six months before the election is inexcusable.

He added that the US Ambassador has attacked the Weah-led administration, and its officials more than the opposition, which he claims is responsible for the chaos in the country. 

RELATED ARTICLE: US President Biden Replacing Amb. McCarthy

“The ambassador should understand these are not the days of colonialism. America owes Liberia more than we owe them,” Gray said. “I think the ambassador feels hurt that he’s permanently departing Liberia. The ambassador must be called to order. His statement was not factual.”

“We are paving the road, we are using taxpayers' money. This is one of its kind where taxpayers' money has been used to pave roads, where the ambassador will comfortably ride and go across the country, and nobody will badmouth him.” 

Gray and Chie's response comes a few days after the Weah government described McCarthy's statement as ‘inaccurate’ an assertion — claiming that funding for public health facilities was not being disbursed 

as appropriated in the 2022 budget.

“While the government recognizes that there is always room for improvement, particularly in the allocation and disbursement of funds for essential services, the narrative as expressed by Ambassador McCarthy is inaccurate,” Ledgerhood Rennie, the Minister of Information, said. 

When contacted by the Daily Observer for a response to the legislative tirades, the United States Embassy shared the following statement:

"Ambassador McCarthy’s recent press statement, like all statements from the U.S. Embassy, is nonpartisan. We stand by the facts presented in the statement. The U.S. Embassy rejects as false any assertion that the Embassy supports one political party or another. The United States values its strong and historic partnership with Liberia."

McCarthy, who has been US Ambassador in Liberia since 2017, has been a vocal critic of the government -- speaking against corruption, the rule of law -- and the failure of the government to believe in basic services. 

He has been praised by many for being likable and charismatic and for giving heartfelt opinions on important national issues. He aggressively criticized the government in his infamous "What Would JJ Robert Say?" letter for failing to deliver fundamental social services while fostering corruption.

According to the White House, McCarthy is due to be replaced by Mark Toner, who has substantial experience in national and regional security. 

The remarks by the two stalwarts of the ruling party came a few days after Representative  Rustolyn Dennis accused McCarthy of misleading the public with his assertion about how the Legislature's budgets work.

Dennis, who is a representative of Montserrado District #4, was another lawmaker to reply to the ambassador's April 24 statement, which accused members of the 54th Legislature of  “buttering their own bread” with fat budget allocations for salaries and operations for years.

According to her, the ambassador's allegation “was excruciating and painful” and has caused confusion among Liberians instead of alerting them about the issues of bad governance. 

“Imagine how excruciating and painful it is for you to have a blanketed statement over the entire legislature, ” Dennis said. “Your judgment is not only unfair but highly misleading in some areas. You have confused the citizens more than alerted them. Let me state unequivocally herein, the budget we passed is never US$65m.”

 “Next the $40 million [plus] that is passed is not for 30 senators and 73 representatives; rather, it’s for the over four thousand workers in central administration and all the legislative staffers for each member.  Your failure to analyze those funds led to your blanket categorization of the legislature.” 

However, the Montserrado County lawmaker's claim that the Legislature's budget "has never reached US$65 million" is untrue, as the 2022 budget was 65.6 million. 

In 2021, it was US$39.6 million, and now, US$42.7 million for this year, according to the 2023 budget document. The monies were allocated for compensation of employees, and the use of goods and services.