Liberia: ‘Voting Corrupt Leaders Stalls Development’

UNMIL/Shpend Berbatovci: A voter in Liberia casting his ballot for a president in the second round of vote on 26 December 2017.  

— CENTAL Warns

The Executive Director of the Center For Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), has called on Liberians to properly examine Candidates vying for public offices in order to have a crop of leaders who will be effective and accountable to the state and its people.

Anderson Miamen admonished Liberians not to vote for corrupt and bad leaders, as doing so stalls the development and progress of the country.

“Be careful who you vote for in these elections, as you will have to live with the consequences of your October 10, 2023 decisions/choices for the next six to nine years,” the CENTAL boss told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday, September 12.

There are a few people who have been sanctioned by the United States government for alleged acts of corruption, and according to Miamen, electing those people to positions of power in the country would give them the space to continue their corrupt activities. 

One of those sanctioned by the US is former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel F. McGill, who is contesting to become Senator in Margibi County. Another person is Senator Varney Sherman who is seeking reelection in Grand Cape Mount County.

Miamen reminded the various political parties and candidates about their responsibility to uphold the Farmington Declaration, which was signed on April 4, 2023, demanding peaceful, free, fair, and credible elections. 

He lauded Liberians for peaceful participation in the ongoing campaign activities, which he said are key components of the ensuing Presidential and Legislative Elections.

He admonished the government to provide adequate financial and logistical support to the Liberia-Anti Corruption Commission (LACC) to operate robustly and independently. 

Need Robust, Rebranded LACC

Meanwhile, Miamen has urged the newly confirmed Commissioners of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) to be robust in the discharge of their duties if the commission’s fight against graft is to become a success.

The CENTAL head lauded the outgoing leadership of LACC, headed Cllr. Edward Kla Martin, for bringing relative stability and sanctity to the Commission, after a turbulent past, as the Commission was largely in the media for the wrong reasons. 

According to him, the new batch of officials have an appreciable foundation upon which they can build.

“Liberia needs a robust, independent, well-resourced, and public-interest driven LACC more than ever before, and we hope the new team will be able to provide that,” he said. 

"This is particularly important as Corruption is becoming pervasive in Liberia, especially in the public sector. Government’s 26 score out of a possible 100 on the 2022 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Transparency International shows the scale of the problem at hand," Miamen said.  

On September 6, 2023, the Liberian Senate confirmed seven LACC’s Commissioners who were nominated by President Weah on June 8, 2023. Those confirmed by the Liberian Senate included Cllr. Alexandra Kormah Zoe, Chairperson, Mr. Ernest R. Hughes, Vice Chairperson, and Mr. Randolph E. Tebbs, Commissioner for Monitoring and Investigation. Dr. Miatta Jeh and Atty. Samuel F. Dakana were confirmed as Commissioners for Monitoring and Investigation, while Cllr. Oretha Snyder Davis and Cllr. David Wilson were confirmed as Commissioners for Prosecution respectively.  

The CENTAL director commended the government, its partners, and Civil Society Organizations for their roles played throughout the process, which led to the vetting of these Liberians, their nomination by the President, and subsequent confirmation by the Liberian Senate. 

He said the lack of actions against public officials sanctioned by the United States Government for alleged significant corruption shows lack of will and major gaps in the Liberian government’s anti-corruption efforts.

“Citizens are becoming more concerned and demanding accountability and transparency from their government. The criticality of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) in the fight against corruption in Liberia, we encourage the new corps of officers to tread cautiously and lead by example during the discharge of their duties,” he said.

Miamen said with the confirmation of these officials, the public expects to see a new, energized, and robust LACC, especially now that it has Direct Prosecutorial Power, which has since been lacking.

“The Country cannot afford to waste any more time in decisively dealing with her worst enemy: Corruption. While we acknowledge past efforts, they have not been enough to give Liberians the positive results anticipated, as public officials abuse public resources with so much Impunity,” Miamen said.

He said the burden is on the new batch of Commissioners to change these negative narratives and give hope to Liberians by making impunity for corruption an issue of the past. 

“We urge the new leadership to endear itself to the public by robustly, timely, and impartially investigating and prosecuting alleged incidences of corruption, including those involving “big hands” in the government,” he said.

Meanwhile, we call on the Commission to forge meaningful partnerships with stakeholders, including civil society and citizens, if it must succeed in her work. 

According to him, CENTAL firmly believes that the success of Liberia’s anti-corruption endeavors hinges on collective vigilance and collaborative efforts and CENTAL recommits to being a key partner in this regard.