The government of Liberia has branded US Representative Chris Smith’s recent statement on Liberia’s worsening political situation as “untrue and a hearsay.”
Reacting to Congressman Smith’s statement that Liberia’s political state of affairs is deteriorating, Information Minister, Eugene Nagbe said the lawmaker’s position does not reflect the true picture of the state of democracy and governance in the country.
“Public comments and positions of important United States officials, particularly members of the U.S. Congress, carry great weight and do directly impact lives and livelihoods; they impact policies; they shift and shape the political landscapes in small countries like ours. In the current geopolitical environment, one statement from a U.S congressman can turn tides, negatively or positively, in our emerging democracy, “Min. Nagbe said.
The minister further emphasized that Congressman Smith’s statement is based on allegations from the International Justice Group (IJG), a non-partisan US-based non-governmental organization, which is not credible.
Min. Nagbbe said the US lawmaker should not have taken the allegations from the IJG seriously because its leadership and rank are neither neutral, objective nor disinterested arbiters in the Liberian politics.
“The group, whose avowed objective is to see the current regime swept from power, cannot be taken at face value by those who want to see Liberia’s fledgling democracy get consolidated. The IJG is headed by many opposition politicians, including its Executive Director Jerome Verdier, a founding member of the now governing party, the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). Mr. Verdier has taken strong, false and sometimes angry positions since his falling out with the CDC; his partisan comments should not form the foundation of the position of a United States Congressman,” said Minister Nagbe.
“The public position a U.S. Congressman issued carries a lot of weight. Concomitant with this great power is an even greater responsibility which bestows the onus on you to ensure that whatever public comments or positions are taken regarding small countries like Liberia are rooted in the truth, and issued with a full and fair comprehension of all of the evidential facts surrounding the political and economic situation we face today,” he said. “It’s a responsibility that comes with power; a responsibility that should not and must not be shirked nor treated casually,” he added.
It can be recalled that Congressman Smith issued a statement recently, stating how human rights advocates are “increasingly alarmed by the deterioration of civil and political rights and the corruption that is occurring in Liberia under President George Weah.”
The US Congressman added that he was also concerned by allegations surrounding Monrovia Mayor Jefferson Koijee and the thuggish behavior of the Congress for Democratic Change Security Force he heads.
“Credible allegations of serious human and civil rights violations — including attempted murder, rape, unlawful arrest, detention, and torture — have been attributed to Mayor Koijee by the International Justice Group, a US-based non-government organization,” the US congressman said.
Meanwhile, the US Congressman has also endorsed the upcoming Weah Step-down Campaign led by opposition politicians who run the group the COP.
Fully aware of this planned protest, the US Congressman cautioned the Liberian government to respect the rights of the protesters and provide them the necessary space and security to conduct their protest peacefully.
“Especially in light of our historic ties to Liberia, the United States Congress will be closely monitoring the mass public demonstration that is scheduled to occur on December 30 in Monrovia, and I call upon the government of Liberia to respect the free speech and assembly rights of Liberian citizens. Anyone who suppresses these fundamental rights, or engages in ongoing corrupt acts, may very well become subject to targeted Global Magnitsky sanctions,” the US Congressman said.
“The Magnitsky Act, which applies globally, authorizes the U.S. government to sanction those who it sees as human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban them from entering the U.S,” he added.
Minister Nagbe has extended Congressman Smith an open invitation and other members of the US Congress who are longtime friends and advocates of Liberia to visit the country and ascertain for themselves the real situation on the ground, which according to him is a world apart from the fictitious, selfish accounts of the IJG and other defeated opposition elements that have now morphed into pseudo civil society groups.
In his communication to Congressman Smith, Minister Nagbe told the US lawmaker that since the incumbency of President Weah, there have been three critical elections in Liberia, which the opposition won two out of the three, following a heated contestation.
Min. Nagbe further told the lawmaker that all of the elections were described by the government bilateral and multilateral partners, including his (Smith) government as free and fair.