— The outgoing US Ambassador, in the eyes of many, was considered personable and engaging, speaking from the heart on issues that matter.
No one saw this coming when President Joe Biden decided to give Liberians the shock of the year with the sudden announcement that Mark Toner would be replacing Michael McCarthy as US Ambassador to Liberia.
McCarthy, who has been the US top diplomat in Liberia since 2017, has gained attention for speaking firmly against corruption, lapses in the rule of law .
The outgoing US Ambassador in the eyes of many was considered personable and engaging, speaking from the heart on issues that matter. In his famous “What Would JJ Robert Says” letter, he boldly critiqued the government for failing to provide basic social services, while allowing corruption to thrive.
However, in the inner cycle of the government, he was thorn in their flesh — growing to become the most popular — and powerful Ambassador in Liberia and probably one of the best the US government had ever sent.
McCarthy, who for the time being remains US Ambassador, would leave the country if his replacement is confirmed by the US Senate, a process that carries no fixed date.
The US diplomat regularly rebuked the massive corruption in the public sector and led to Washington sanctioning the top three officials (now out of government) of the Weah-led administration and two senators, under the Global Magnitsky Act, for public corruption.
His replacement comes less than a week after President George Weah’s visit to the United States Central Intelligence Agency Headquarters in Virginia. The discussion surrounding the visit was held behind closed doors.
McCarthy’s successor, Marck Christopher Toner, is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, and currently serves as the Minister Counselor for Public Diplomacy at the US Embassy in Paris, France.
Previously, Toner was a senior advisor at the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe and a Senior Faculty Advisor at the National Defense University. Earlier, Toner held positions as the State Department’s Deputy Spokesperson, Acting Spokesperson, and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of European Affairs.
He has also served as the Director of Press Operations in the Bureau of Public Affairs and Director of Press and Public Affairs in the Bureau of European Affairs. Toner was also a spokeswoman at the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels, Belgium.
Prior to joining the State Department, Toner served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, West Africa. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Notre Dame; a journalism degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and a master’s degree from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C. He also speaks French and Polish.