French Ambassador to Liberia Joël Godeau has hailed the Liberian government for taking a bold stance by sending to court government officials linked to the Sable Mining corruption saga emanating from the Global Witness report, and challenged the judiciary to perform its duty to the end.
Ambassador Godeau made the statement on July 14 during the observance of France’s National Day, otherwise referred to as Bastille Day.
He said as Liberia is now admitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the corridor is now opened for international businesses to enter the country; and under this situation, corruption needs to be tackled to enhance best business practices.
France sells medicines to Liberia and purchases the country’s iron ore, and there are many of its companies, including UMARCO, Bolloré, Total, CMA-CGM, AGS, Liberia Equipment/JA DELMAS, among others, doing business in the country.
With this business interest and connection, the Ambassador assured that by choosing French companies under the WTO protocol, Liberia can expect high ethical behaviors and get more of its citizens trained.
He said for such an opportunity to come, and to have a better business climate, it is better for Liberians to stand against corruption and build a long-term relationship based on the philosophy that no country in this sub-region can be pushed to the sidelines, while other ECOWAS member states are growing.
Ambassador Godeau indicated that “It is necessary to bring to remembrance, as we Europeans did during the last meeting in May of the Political Dialogue between Europe and Liberia, that the improvement of the business environment is a priority and that the fight against corruption must continue without weakness and exception.”
Commenting on Liberia’s security, the French Ambassador, whose country is the third financer of the UN peace operations in Liberia, commended UNMIL for keeping security for 13 years.
Now that security responsibility is turned over to the Liberian government, he said France continues to plead for the international community to accompany Liberia as she shoulders this responsibility, and will continue to propose to Liberia well targeted cooperation projects in the field of defense and security.
“France is also convinced that Liberians are keen to assume the getting back of the country’s full sovereignty and to show to the world its ability to organize rigorously free, fair and peaceful elections as other African countries did recently,” Ambassador Godeau emphasized.
France’s 227th Bastille Day celebration on July 14 was brought to a tragic halt by the killing of 84 people, including children, in Nice by a terrorist.
Mohammed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Fench-Tunisian, drove a truck through a crowd in the coastal city of Nice on Bastille Day while people were celebrating the Day. Bouhlel was shot and killed at the scene by police. ISIS later claimed that they “inspired the attack,” CNN reported.
Prior to the occurrence, Ambassador Godeau said his country has over the years been hit by terrorist attacks characterized by unlimited brutality.
He recalled that on November 13, 2015, over 130 people were blindly slaughtered, noting that these attacks were indeed intended to harm the common values and essential civil liberties of France.
However, he noted, “All this will be in vain, because France will never give in to terror and will remain standing and united.”
Representing the Liberian government at the occasion, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Elias Shoniyin extended thanks and appreciation to France for its contributions to Liberia’s security and economy.
Minister Shoniyin recalled that France was the second to recognize Liberia’s independence and donated a small gunboat to the government to be used to patrol the country’s seacoast following the recognition.
He added that France has been instrumental in assisting Liberia to overcome some major problems including Ebola, and has remained resilient in the midst of terrorist attacks.
Minister Shoniyin also acknowledged France for its contribution to peace and security in Liberia, and the debt waiver signed in 2012.