Former Diplomat Calls on US to Impose Sanctions on Liberia

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Gabriel I. H. Williams is former press attaché to the Liberian Embassy, Washington D.C.

A former Liberian diplomat to the United States has expressed the need to seek Congressional actions, including calling on the US to impose sanctions on officials and supporters of the Liberian government if the government fails to institute the necessary reforms to ensure accountability, adherence to good governance and the rule of law.

Mr. Gabriel I.H. Williams made the call when he served as guest speaker at the special Sunday worship service commemorating this year’s Black History Month at the historic St. Andrews AME Church in the California state capital Sacramento on Sunday, February 16, 2020.

Mr. Williams told the congregation at the well-attended service that a campaign to lobby the US Congress to draw attention to the deteriorating economic and political state of affairs in Liberia has begun in the US. He added that the campaign is intended for Liberians and friends of Liberia in the US to strongly lobby Congress to ensure accountability and democratic governance in Liberia, and also for the US to impose sanctions on those culpable of corruption and human rights abuses if the Liberian government fails to institute democratic reforms.

The former Liberian Diplomat stated that through Congressional actions, the US can impose sanctions on Liberia under the Global Magnitsky Act, which was passed into law in 2016 by the US Congress to apply sanctions on human rights abusers and corrupt officials across the globe.

Mr. Williams indicated that even though Liberia is a sovereign nation, the Global Magnitsky Act empowers the US Congress to deal with matters in other countries, including Liberia. He added that many senior officials of the Liberian government are US citizens or have been residents with bank accounts, properties and other assets in the US, which could be used in legal actions to hold accountable those that are culpable of corruption and human abuses in Liberia.

According to Mr. Williams, the campaign seeks to encourage Liberians and friends of Liberia to contact the offices of Member of Congress in the districts where they reside and draw attention to the deteriorating state of affairs in Liberia. He added that Congressional actions would help prevent another destruction in Liberia after the US and the international community have provided billions of dollars for post-war economic recovery and good governance.

Mr. Williams, who is also a journalist and author, stated that since he published a recent opinion article in which he called on Liberians and friends of Liberia to lobby the US Congress for Liberia, he has received feedback from many people concerned about developments in Liberia, who said besides contacting Congress, they have written the White House and the Office of the Vice President of the United States. “We want to thank those who have taken the initiative, and to let every American citizen know that when you contact Congress or the White House on behalf of Liberia, you’re helping to prevent that country from sliding back into dictatorship or civil upheaval which could cause another round of death and destruction,” he added.

Mr. Williams, who previously served in the Liberian government as Deputy Minister of Information, said the prevailing state of affairs in Liberia is going from bad to worse because of rampant corruption and gross incompetence of the government of President Weah.

“As Liberians begin the third year of the Weah presidency, it has become abundantly clear that Mr. Weah does not know what to do as president of a nation, but he seems unwilling to surround himself with individuals with the competence and integrity to ensure productive leadership,” Mr. Williams indicated. “President Weah has been unable to say how he’s going to find solution to the extreme economic hardship affecting the Liberian people because he doesn’t know what to say.”

Speaking on this year’s Black History Month theme, “African Americans and the Vote,” he emphasized that every vote counts and can make a difference for good when the right candidates are elected. Mr. Williams, who is author of the recently-published book, Corruption is Destroying Africa: The Case of Liberia, said he decided to use Liberia as a case study of how voting for the wrong candidate could have negative or disastrous consequences for the general public.

According to the Liberian journalist and author, Mr. Weah became President of Liberia in 2018 after winning a landslide election based on his personality and popularity as a retired global soccer star.  He added that an overwhelming majority of Liberians, mostly the young people who constitute more than half the total population, voted for Mr. Weah without vetting the kinds of policies and programs he would implement upon assuming the presidency.

“Mr. Weah’s election was a watershed moment for Liberia’s poor, many of whom idolized the man who rose from Monrovia’s slums to soccer stardom, and finally the highest office of the land,” Mr. Williams stated.

However, Mr. Williams stated, Liberia has been on a rapid decline and the post-war democratic and economic gains made are eroding under President Weah. He added that since Weah came to power, millions of dollars have gone missing from the public coffers without accountability, there has been growing clampdown on dissent, while public demand for the President to reshuffle his government or institute the necessary reforms to ensure accountability and good governance has gone unheeded.

According to him the latest example of Mr. Weah’s very poor leadership has been the chronic shortage of fuel in Liberia, which recently paralyzed the entire country for a couple of weeks, leaving schools and businesses closed, and thousands of people forced to trek on foot, reminiscent of the civil war years. He added that the negative economic impact on the country as a result of the gasoline shortage, which is unprecedented in post-war Liberia, will be profound.

Mr. Williams told the congregation that he decided to use Liberia as a case study because the history of Black Americans is the history of the beginning of Liberia.

He recalled that Liberia was founded in the early 1800s by men and women of color from the United States following the end of slavery. He added that Liberia gained independence in 1847 as Africa’s first republic, and ten of the country’s past presidents were American-born.

Whether in America or in Africa, Mr. Williams stated, it is very important that those vying for elective offices are properly vetted, as voting for the wrong candidate who lack the leadership ability and integrity to serve could also undermine the public good.

He observed that as Americans gear up to elect a President, Members of Congress and local government officials in November, African American voters are getting a significant amount of attention because the African voting bloc is recognized to be one of the most influential voting blocs in the US.

However, instead of exercising their power to vote, Mr. Williams said, some African Americans have the attitude that their vote does not matter, while others say they do not like to get involved in politics because it is a waste of time.

“Let it be made absolutely clear. We all need to be engaged in politics because it affects us down to our driver’s license. Voting at your local level will determine every time how your trash is going to be picked up. Voting for your state leaders will influence federal policies, such as your health care and college programs for your children,” he added.

During the course of this campaign season, Mr. Williams entreated the congregation, “listen to the candidates, check their backgrounds and platforms to make sure that those you vote for will be capable custodians of the public trust,” he told the congregation.

The special worship service was characterized by soul-stirring African American spiritual songs, like “Don’t You Let No Body Turn You Around …’, as part of the tributes for Black History Month, which is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the role of African Americans in US history.

Since its founding in 1850, which was the year the State of California joined the union, St. Andrews AME Church has been known for playing a critical role in catering to the spiritual and physical needs of the people. There are historical accounts of how the church hosted the first California Colored Citizens’ State Convention on the West Coast and actively supported California’s Black community in its struggle to gain the full rights of citizenship in the US.

Mr. Williams said he first visited St, Andrews Church in the 1990s when he was a Staff Writer with The Sacramento Observer, a leading African American newspaper in the US, after he fled Liberia due to death threats for his role as a journalist during Liberia’s civil war.

18 COMMENTS

  1. Another idiot, you lost your job to a new administration so the country should be placed under sanction.

    The Sirleaf government admitted to corruption but you didn’t call for sanction because you had a job with her, you idiot.

  2. I earnestly yearn to live in a new Liberia where people will not be judged on which family or which name they bear but on what positive impact they can make on the country.
    I would love to live in a new Liberia where patriotism will be ingrained in the blood of every Liberian woman and man and not just be moved by fame and selfish financial gain.
    I would love to live in a new Liberia where its citizenry will not consider the beautiful and rich land of liberty a farm on which they can come to harvest and take the proceeds away but a country to hold dear in every heart and develop every corner of it irrespective of which ethnic groups and color of people reside therein.
    I earnestly yearn to live in a new Liberia where love will prime over hatred, where those who mourn will be comforted, where the meek will inherit the land, where those who seek righteousness will be satisfied, where those who are merciful will receive mercy, where the pure in heart will live in hope and peace to seeing God and shall be called upon to lead the nation to prosperity, and where the peace makers will once again be called the children of God.

    When are we (Africans) going to learn to tackle our own problems from the grassroots and creatively solve them using our traditional African methods combined with western diplomacy?
    When are we going to learn to conjugate our differences and internal quarrels through creative criticisms in harnessing and forging a better and better future for our country Liberia some people cynically love?

    Dear Mr. Williams,
    Stop lobbying the American congress. Come to Liberia to lobby the Liberian Houses to democratically enhance positive change;
    Stop giving the American congress jurisdiction over your Houses. The consequential effects may again be detrimental to the peace of Liberia;
    Stop advocating for sanctions, you may not be spared if the American congress were to thoroughly investigate happenings in Liberia.

    If I were you, I would have used that tribune to enlighten the minds of the Liberian diaspora and the friends of Liberia to positively engage the Weah’s government on its campaign promises to the Liberian people.
    If I were you, I would have used the Black History Month’s celebration in a church to ask fervent women and men of God to pray for Mama Liberia and not condemn it again to destruction.

    Your administration (Ellen’s) is responsible for the watershed moment in the history of Liberia. With all due respect, it is NOT for the poor but against the poor. I am a poor boy and I can confirm to you that Weah is again killing the poor than any president in the history of Liberia.

    Enjoy your time in the USA, Sir. Ask the American Congress to chastise you and your former government for handing over our country to ineptitude and ignorance under the disguise of tyranny.

    But beware Sir, your own children will blame you for once again plunging Liberia into the abyss for selfish and political gains.

    No more war!

  3. Gabriel Williams has a right to talk, but he is a poor political character. Williams’ call for an imposition of sanctions on the Liberian government manifests his political insufficiency.

    Gabriel Williams actively served in the government of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The Johnson-Sirleaf government was not perfect by the stretch of anyone’s imagination. For instance, while public school students did not have their full set of textbooks, the Johnson-Sirleaf government did absolutely zilch to address this issue. Let’s not forget that paying less or no attention to the needs of students is incontestably a human rights violation! Also during the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf presidency, the Liberian lawmakers were paid higher salaries than their United States counterparts. But during that very period, the country’s top notch medical doctors and university professors were underpaid. Where was Gabriel Williams and why didn’t he use his machismo in order to lobby the US for economic sanctions against his boss? Does Gabriel Williams harbor a personal grudge against Weah?

    The Weah government is reeling from a recession-plagued government of the former president. The recession issue is precisely why economic development has been at a snail’s pace during the past couple of years. But economic conditions are about to improve. That’s the picture that Gabriel Williams should see. Finally, the very best that Gabriel Williams can do is to reverse his call for sanctions against Liberia. Why? Because if sanctions are imposed, economic development will be hampered.

    Let’s hope that Gabriel Williams’ call for sanctions to be imposed on Liberia is a maneuver to oust an elected leader. No one knows what lurks in the hearts of men!

    Peace

  4. Flomo Smith,
    If Gabriel Williams did not call for sanctions to be imposed on the country of Liberia, then it’s a cladestine attempt on his part to dethrone Weah. Williams’ sanctions request will boomerang in his face big time. Also, it is senseless for anyone to call for sanctions to be imposed on a few individuals especially when those individuals are the elected leaders. Never mind that Williams is attempting to do this unilaterally. What a backward idea!

  5. The Bias and The Misinformed (for the sake of notoriety).

    Even the “Great USA”, in 1973 had a fuel shortage. so, could anyone call for the dissolution of the Nixon administration, or sanction against the US government. Well, only in Liberia, and only Liberian; our own citizen will come out promote hardship on our masses. When some us cross the Atlantic Ocean, “glory fall on our lab”.We call for the dissolution of our government in the face appeasement. If Mr. Gabriel William is seeking notoriety, or if he is smart; as he claiming, let him ask himself this question: since 1847, which government in Liberia ever been massively funded in Liberia.

    I was born in 1982, with my little knowledge on Liberian history, the PRC and the Ellen Johnson Administrations are, and still remain the most funded government in Liberian History. The later (EJS) administration, as I’ve come to learned was one that Mr. Gabriel William served. The PRC, 500,000 million and the EJS administration, couple of billions; both cash and logistics. I m not a CDCian, nor do I support corruption in Liberia. The massive corruption that went on for the past 144 months under EJS and the 123 months of the PRC was based on soft money landing in the hands incompetence leadership with corrupt-laden-mindset. The CDC government is no exception. The CDC Government, to my knowledge had not receive funding of that magnitude. That does not give them (the CDCl lead administration), to embezzle either. What I m trying to explain is that people who have served under corrupt, and despotic regimes are always standing on the sideline, trying to look like a SAINT.

    Maybe that is the only way Liberian people can call them “book men and book women”. No where else to do it, but when they have lived across the Atlantic. Mr. Gabriel Williams, calling for sanction on the Government of Liberia, just expose your bias and misinformation campaign. If it works, it will hurt the average Liberian than the gasoline shortage.

    From: Mamadu S. Bah
    Meridian Health.

  6. Let’s face it the Weah Government is the most corrupt in Liberian History . I’m with Mr. Willians 250,000.00 did not die fir our nation to go backwards

  7. Even though I am not a supporter of this government,
    why make that call now when corruption became vampire in Liberia? Where were you at the time? Stop being hypocritical in your statement please.

  8. Some of you would attempt to castigate the messengers in order to dismiss their messages about rampant corruption, poor governance, ineptitude in govt and underdevelopment in the homeland… why? This too is a dangerous precedent and worst form of deception that some posters and their backers are inclined to propagate in a civilized world. But that mindset in itself is a source of falsehood in disguise to prevent critical voices , fiery critiques and harsh petitions exposing government thievery, lawlessness and incompetence at home and abroad. But this is a justified clarion call to fellow citizens to act now; to put down a criminal syndicate and prevent a return to cannibalism in the homeland…

  9. It’s very frustrating to know that many Liberians are still ingrained in the illusion that this Weah-led government is capable of effecting the desired change.We do not need a divine intervention to see how badly this administration is proceeding.This government lacks the vision needed to improve the living condition of its people.An inordinate desire to amass wealth ,which the President himself has consistently demonstrated since he took office ,can hinder any real investment.Moreover,it exasperates many a potential investor to see the appalling downward trend the nation has taken while officials of government are drownig in luxuries.
    I might not join Mr. Williams in his rally for a sanction to be imposed on government officials but agree 100 percent that rampant corruption and constant but blatant violation of the Constitution have exposed this government true intent.

  10. You see how Liberians are their own enemies.
    This is an individual who served in one of the MOST CORRUPT government ever in the history of our country the ” UNITY PARTY” that looted the resources of our country for twelve years.
    Mr. Williams, where were you when Robert Sirleaf the son of your boss Ellen Johnson Sirleaf broke down NOCAL with the amount of thirty five million United States dollars, where were you when out of 64 concessions contract signed by your government only two met international standard. Where were you when Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said corruption was a “Vampire”. Mr. Williams, where were you in 2011 when three radio stations and two television stations were closed forcefully by arm men. Mr. Williams, how did Mr. Marcus Allison died, how did Mr. Greeves died during the government that you served.
    Mr. Williams, why at that time you did not called for sanction. Mr. Williams, please leave us alone if you have nothing positively to contribute to this country.
    We are appreciative of this CDC led government for the lever of developments under taken in the first two years.

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