Former PUL Leaders Write Biden Administration Regarding Liberia

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Former Press Union of Liberia leaders, Gabriel Williams and Isaac Bantu

… on the reason behind Liberian Government’s rush to print L$48 billion banknotes

Former leaders of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) are drawing the attention of the United States to what they describe as “an alarming state of bad governance or misrule in Liberia under President George M. Weah”.  They are urging the Biden administration to institute actions in Liberia in order to protect democracy and promote good governance in the West African country.

The former PUL executives, including Isaac D.E. Bantu, Emmanuel D. Abalo, and Gabriel I.H. Williams, sent a letter dated April 22, 2021, addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, calling for stronger U.S. engagement with Liberia to prevent economic collapse and unrest. The letter to Secretary of State Blinken was copied to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Ranking House Member Chris Smith, among others. 

According to a press statement issued in the United States, the former PUL leaders said since taking office in 2018, President Weah’s government has been engaged in widespread corruption and serious inefficiency in the management of the Liberian economy. For example, they cited audit findings and other reports which generated controversies around the L$4 billion new banknotes printed by the government for which there has been no accountability, as well as US$25 million for a mop-up exercise. The former Press Union leaders pointed out that the US$25 million that was intended to mop-up excess Liberian dollars on the market could not be accounted for, according to a General Auditing Commission (GAC) audit report.

“It is in view of the Weah government’s failure to be transparent and forthright in handling the financial affairs of the country that we are alarmed by reports that the National Legislature of Liberia recently issued a joint resolution giving approval for the printing of L$48 billion banknotes,” the former PUL executives said in their letter to the U.S. government. The letter also states that Liberian lawmakers gave approval to print the new banknotes despite public outcry against said action, for which the lawmakers have been accused of receiving bribes.  

“We are also concerned by reports that the government is proceeding with the printing of the L$48 billion banknotes in order to use said money to fund President Weah’s re-election campaign in 2023,” the former PUL leaders revealed. “Given the experience of the December 2020 Senatorial election when officials of the government and the ruling party doled out newly printed banknotes while the economy was saturated with mutilated banknotes, we have reasons to be seriously concerned that the interest of the country will be subordinated to the political interest of President Weah and his ruling party,” they added.

The former PUL leaders noted in their letter that years of financial mismanagement and misrule have trapped Liberia in a chronic cycle of economic dependency and international aid, while most Liberians endure extreme poverty due to rampant corruption and poor governance, which are factors for instability.

The former Press Union leaders said they are also becoming alarmed by the growing insecurity in Liberia, while mysterious deaths and disappearances are becoming commonplace. For example, they pointed to the mysterious death of four government auditors and the disappearance of three young men, for which there have been no conclusive investigations.

The former PUL executives indicated that they are becoming equally alarmed by the increased attacks on freedom of speech and of the press in Liberia. They mentioned a PUL petition to President Weah in 2020 in which the union cited widespread attacks, detention, and brutality meted against media practitioners in Liberia.

While recognizing the U.S. as Liberia’s most important bilateral partner and donor, Messrs Bantu, Abalo, and Williams proffered  six (6) recommendations to the Biden Administration for consideration in an effort to promote good governance, adherence to accountability and transparency, as well as respect for free speech and the rule of law in Liberia.

1. That the U.S. Government, in partnership with other donor countries, offers to provide direct technical oversight of financial institutions in Liberia for an initial period no less than five years. We herewith call for an international intervention, similar to that of the Governance Economic Management Assistance Program (GEMAP), under which the international community assisted in the management of Liberia’s resources following the end of the civil crises. While there were some shortcomings with the GEMAP, as some critics have noted, the agreement led to the institution of financial policies and programs that contributed to the rapid revival of Liberia’s economy, which had collapsed during the civil war;

2. We applaud the U.S. Government for the recent sanctions imposed on a prominent Liberian senator and lawyer for the said official’s alleged involvement in corruption in Liberia. Additionally, we appeal to Washington to investigate instances of alleged corruption and abuse of power involving any of its citizens and others in the employ of the Liberian Government for appropriate action under U.S. laws;

3. That the U.S. denies visa access to corrupt individuals and their families;

4. That new U.S. aid to Liberia be channeled directly to citizens and democratic institutions through private partnership and other initiatives;

5. That the U.S. condition new economic assistance on full implementation of recommendations contained in the Final Report of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and;

6. That U.S. officials decline invitations/meetings with Liberian Government officials who are designated as corrupt and “roadblocks” to fostering a democratic environment.

The three former PUL Executives have consistently spoken out in support of democratic values, respect for the rule of law and human rights, and good governance in Liberia.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Mr. Gabriel William aka Uncle Tom, form a political party and contest . Mr. Biden have more on his plate than he can eat: police brutality against Black, systemic racism, voter suppression, etc. You spent 12 years with EJS and squandered 16 billion dollars without accountability. Sitting somewhere and requesting to write an American President will not solve Liberia’s problem.

    You are nothing but Baccus Matthew on steroid: he asked William Tolbert to dropped rice price in 1979, by 1980, he was serving in a junta that increased rice price twice fold. Hypocrisy!
    The Liberian have often seen this lies, over and over. America cannot solve our problem as some of you UNCLE TOMS think. They haven’t solve it in the past, they will not solve it now. Others countries that are doing so well, do not go with their problems to America, instead they se what America has done, and copy dames.

    • Isaac (Bantu), you have over the years kept your head above the waters as a responsible, renowned, credible and respected journalist. You better don’t allow stooges and opportunists as government job seeking Gabriel Williams to soil your reputable national and international status.

      That jobs seeking stooge and opportunist Gabriel Williams has no shame that after insulting journalists at home for questioning the printing of unauthorized money by his boss Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and defending same in Washington, has the disgusting disposition to usually present himself to the public as a laughing stock simply because according to him he cannot live a sane a decent life without government job.

      • Whos this idiot and a HE GOAT? I know he’s no one else ; but the HIV / Aids patient Lenn Eugene MNagbe who’s now milking our maritime coffers to get his share of the pile. This so-called true nationalist or whatever pen name he’s under has got no morals to question the integrity of people with outstanding reputations. Eugene or HIV aids patient has got no good records in this country call Liberia. He has managed to survive at the detriment of his colleagues even to the death of some just to gain access to the power that be. Hes a complete hustler and a mid-day criminal and a murderer. Eugene and his late friend Bathan Nyensuah were closed friends at some point during the rebel Charles Taylor days writing for the patriot news paper. he undermined his boss at the time – the late Joe Wolobah Mulbah/ Minister of Information in the Taylor NPRAG just to get to the top of the new organ behinds the Taylor rebel lines.

  2. Liberian need some soul searching from the hands of those Old Uncle Tomers.

    We the Pan Africanist on this platform, should not get tire of educating our people to look toward a new waves of handling our problems than asking outsiders to add a bandaids to it. Our people have grown with the mentality of taking our problems to the west for ‘solutions’. How many years we have tried it and it doesn’t work.
    Our so-call oppositions are nothing but ‘ for nothing noise makers’.

    Mr. William statement is like Baccus Matthew accusing William Tolbert of bad governance, in one year he was serving within the Junta’s rank in 1981.
    From Rwanda.

  3. Former PUL leaders said and I quote, “Mr. Blinken, US Secretary of States, please tell President Biden to make Liberia the 51st State of the United States of America, then corruption and impunity will finish.” Unquote.

    Our dear former PUL leaders, get in plane and fly to Washington to present your letter. I am not sure Mr. Blinken will open your letter or even inform his boss about it. They have many problems in their country to solve right now.

    Weah is a democratically elected president of Liberia. Equally so, our lawmakers were democratically elected by the people of the Republic of Liberia. Liberia is an independent country since 1847.
    As much as the USA can come in to help us in many ways on humanitarian ground, it does not give the country the right to decide for the sovereign people of Liberia.

    Former PUL leaders, come down to Liberia and begin to lead a campaign to democratically unseat the government voted by the people. You cannot dictate anything to the US Government against Liberia. The US Government undertakes actions in accordance with its constitution, its fundamental laws.
    Come home and make your country democratic. Join in the democratic fight to unseat Weah. Stop looking for jobs in foreign capitals. We, the people, must learn to shape our own destiny. Great Britain did not do it for the USA.

    As I am frustrated in you guys, so was it yesterday when I heard on the news that the president of the most powerful country in West Africa, Buhari, was calling on the US Government to move its antiterrorist base (AFRICOM) to Africa from Germany. If heeded to, we will be the same Africans demonstrating tomorrow for the USA to stop undertaking military activities in Africa; we will begin to yell, oh leave our countries alone, we are independent.
    What do we want, Africans? Perpetual servitude or independence?
    The USA has concentrated a special base, AFRICOM, to monitor terrorist activities in Africa because we cannot protect our own borders. We, Africans, must fill this gap!

    I thought the Nigerian leader was going to negotiate with the Europeans or the USA or Russia to use their facilities to send African astronauts to space to enable us have our own satellites that can make us militarily and technological independent, like other Asian countries but we are calling for feeding bottle to be fed like babies.

    Our former PUL leaders, come down and make a change by voting out the unqualified and corrupt lawmakers and inept president of Liberia. You must be able to propose something credible to the Liberian people.
    Stop stabbing yourselves in the legs and expect to run faster when the race is called!

    Sorry for being blunt, my people. Don’t get vex with me oh, I beg you people!

  4. CORRUPTION SCANDAL CAME FROM THE OLD REGIMES LEADERS ADMINISTRATION AND YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT THE NEW GOVERNMENT IN LIBERIA NOW SUFFERING FROM DEPRESSION, MURDERERS, CRIMINALS, TERRORISTS, RAPES, KILLERS ETC. BUT YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE TO SAY THAT CORRUPT PEOPLE IN LIBERIA AND YOU ARE PART OF CORRUPTION SCANDAL IN LIBERIA. THIS GOVERNMENT’S OF LIBERIA AND TRYING TO MAKE A BETTER LIFES FOR THE PEOPLES OF LIBERIA. WE ALL WORKS TOGETHER TO SOLVE OUR PROBLEMS AND NOT YOU TO SEE IT HELP FROM THE BIDENS GOVERNMENTS TO HELP THE PEOPLES OF LIBERIANS. THANK FOR THE PRESIDENT OF LIBERIA AND PEOPLES IN LIBERIA NOW. YOU ARE THE PROBLEMS OF THE LIBERIANS PEOPLES OKAY.

    TO GOD BEING GLORIFY AMEN.

  5. Anyone can castigate me all they want. One thing for sure is that you will never be able to accuse me of stealing public funds or violating public trust during my tenure in government. This is why we’re determined to rid our country of those corrupt and criminal elements, who continue to plunder the national coffers while Liberians endure chronic poverty. Wait and see. In the fullness of time, the kleptocrats and their acolytes will be made to account for rampant corruption and gross abuse of power in Liberia. Liberians didn’t go through such horrific war and suffering to end up with leaders that are brazenly corrupt and incompetent. So go ahead and call me any names. The last time I checked, Charles Taylor and his apologists berated us for drawing attention to his misrule. Where is he today?

    • You chronic and helpless opportunist and stooge Gabriel Williams, you have
      simply confirmed your mediocrity and other limitations by

      (1) indicating here that your naturally CORRUPT evil inchoate offenses, immoral, and hypocritical culpabilities, coupled with other official misconducts and offenses and violations against public morality and decency while as

      (2) a notorious stooge and a chronic opportunist selfishly serving the personal CORRUPT interests of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and yourself when you were being paid by tax payers’ sweat, are not the same or tantamount to “stealing public funds or violating public trust during your tenure in government.“

    • Its worrisome when people who claims to be educated write to US state department to address Liberia,s internal affairs! Is Liberia not an independent Republic to solve her internal affairs? A lot of you need to start thinking for yourselves and see your country as an independent country! Relationship between Liberia and the United States should be bilateral and nothing else.

  6. Until we are able to demonstrate to our people and the outside world that we are capable of self-governance, Liberia will always seek for guidance and help from others.

    Why should Liberians not look for external assistance when their government continuously wages a reign of terror against them? We hear about some of our own African leaders within our West African sub-region who have made and continue to make great strides in eradicating poverty and improving the lives of their people, but those developments did not happen through magic. They were serious about making genuine reforms, and they did.

    Nevertheless, Liberian leaders instead empty out the public coffers to build mansions for themselves and live fabulously while the average Liberians suffer. They strategize diabolical schemes for the systemic murders of our professional men and women who are trained to monitor and detect fraud within the revenues collection system of our ports, and bring to a complete halt any program or policy that is meant to promote economic growth and social progress.

    So where do the people turn? They have no choice but to look outside. Nonetheless, no man is an island and so asking for help is not absolutely a bad idea, but what our leaders do with the assistance as it relates to the eradication of poverty, the improvement of our health, educational, agricultural, and many other vital infrastructures becomes a conundrum.
    As the result, the people are always caught in a vicious cycle. I am not implying Liberian leaders should not break the chain of what the late Bob Marley referred to in his lyrics, “Emancipate ourselves from mental slavery” as this behavior only fosters an unending dependency on everybody for everything.

    On the other hand, sometimes when we hear some of our brothers and sisters steaming out over the fact that the government, which they love, is being harshly repudiated because of its vicious and bleak human rights record their defense then becomes, “Why should we always look up to foreigners to solve our issues?!

    Now, I am leery about this kind of criticism because it is sometimes cloaked in deceit. I called these kinds of critics “just-in-time” critics. Why? Some of them are crying foul not out of genuine love for country, but out of the fact they are favored by the status quo and so their families and they are well secured. If situation was to change, they would be singing the song differently.

    On July 26, 1847 Liberia declared her independence, but the declaration only happened at a time and place. Her entitlement to independence has all along been a façade for Liberians still continue to live under an illusion to believe they are truly independent, but they are not!

  7. An Old Tactic, To a Fail Policy.

    @ Manepaikeh and @ David Fallah, sounds comments. The two of you have given me a voice on this platform. The need for critical analysis in managing our own affairs, have been my cry from day one. Let not anybody gets me wrong, we need others to help us manage our problem but the solution lies in our own hands. So many mistakes were made in the past of which we the younger generations are paying for today. When leaders don’t invest in developing their countries, the citizens become the victims. I dropped out at Mozambique on my way to Liberia, you will be surprise that there is a free wifi services at the public disposal. That can give an average citizen a chance to built free apps for food and other services, to start an entrepreneur life.

    Mr. Gabriel William wants to make a come back, using the same old TACTIC that they all know best: using America as a PAWN. This generation need polyethnic colleges, industrial universities (not only reading and writing), hands on institutions that teach the young people how to build infrastructures, free industrial education centers, etc., like the Asian modules. No more Baccus Matthew-style rhetoric. Do something, not only empty talks.

    After WWII, the Untied States invested billions in a program called the Marshall Plan in Europe. Besides it developmental aspect, one of the main goal was to stop the spread of communism on the European continent. Liberia has enjoyed something similar close to that twice: the 500,000 million given to the PRC government in 1982 ( 1/2 cash and 1/2 logistic for the military); and the recent 16 billion donors’ fund given to Liberia in 12 years period during the EJS administration. Ours always landing in the wrong hands. How many hospitals, schools, roads, and institutions were built during both regimes? How many public schools were funded tuition free to allow poor Liberians to acquire quality education? Those who were beneficiaries (corrupt officials), are barking to come back to continue business as usual. Is it not a disgrace to our so-call oppositions to always use America as a PAWN in our quest to achieve our greed and selfish motives.

    Just leave America alone, they have so much on their plate to consume. We been destroying our own country and using America as a base to seek refuge. An ideal that has a toll on the nation for years.

    Mamadu Bah (N/P) Nurse Practioner, Adelaide, Australia.

  8. Comrade Gabriel William,
    I do not doubt your patriotism or your sincerety one bit! Because of curiosity I am forced to ask this question:
    Was Liberia free of corruption when you worked for the government of Liberia?

  9. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha !
    And so when corruption starts exploding under the Cummings’ regime, oh well, when corruption was a family affairs, a tribal affairs and political party’s affairs under the regime of George, lovers of the Cummings’ regime will say, it also happened under George, what did you do ?
    Your leave Cummings alone and let him create jobs and employment opportunities for Liberians.
    In the Liberians mindset, one president after another can play the corruption trend game with impunity in that God Forsaken Country. The citizens don’t care. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha !
    They say, We Like It Like That. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha !

  10. If reaching out to the remotest parts of the country and carrying street lights there is what these guys call corruption, then we indigenous Liberians or country people need more of that.

    If this government’s strive to connect Liberia by all_weather roads, abandoned since 18 wee wee (Liberian parlance), is what these so-called patriots call ineptitude, then Liberia needs more of that.
    Last but not the least is, if making sure that every institutions of government, whether state owned or autonomous, to have their own buildings as offices, rather than their usual renting and/or leasing of private or family houses from 18 wee wee, is what these unserious men term misrule and bad governance, then how l wish President WEAH and his government were given another six year term by all well meaning Liberians for more development. Thank you.

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