– Says U.S. Liberia relations “stronger now than ever”
United States President Donald Trump says he is committed to working with the Government of Liberia to “advance our common agenda and deepen the strong and abiding friendship between our two countries.”
The American President statement was made after George Patten, Liberia’s Ambassador-designate Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States presented his letters of credence. The ceremony took place in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Friday, January 11, 2019.
According to a press release from the Liberian Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT), President Trump accepted the letter of accreditation from President Weah “with great pleasure” and extolled the special relationship that exists between Liberia and the United States of America, which he says is “stronger now than ever”. The American leader recalled that the “special bond” dates as far back as the foundation of the Republic of Liberia. “Since the end of the Liberian Civil war in 2003”, he said, “the country has improved security for its people and taken a difficult task of rebuilding its economy.”
President Trump has also applauded the people of Liberia for the successful Presidential elections of 2017. This, he said, led to the first peaceful transition of power from one democratically elected leader to another. “The transition is a milestone for Africa’s oldest republic and a testament to the confidence the people of Liberia have in the country’s institutions”, he said. The U.S. President emphasized that because his country is Liberia’s “steadfast and longtime ally”, the American people remain committed to the peaceful and democratic future of Liberia.
The U.S. Liberia relationship dates as far back as the 1800s, when freed Black Americans first settled in the oldest independent nation on the continent and formed a government modeled after the U.S. This gave rise to the longstanding special relationship that subsists between both countries. The American government has been a vital development partner to Liberia – from the contributing substantially to its overseas development assistance, to helping resolve the fourteen-year crisis that engulfed Liberia.
In his statement, the U.S. President recalled his country’s role during the Ebola crisis that plagued Liberia in 2014, citing the United States’ assistance which helped overcome the epidemic.
Speaking during the presentation, Ambassador Patten conveyed President Weah’s assurance to the Liberian people and the international community of his commitment to democratic governance, human rights and the alleviation of poverty. “With this commitment, he has already begun taking measures to ensure the improvement of the living condition of the people”, Ambassador Patten said. The Liberian Ambassador also used the occasion to inform President Trump of President Weah’s decision to cultivate even deeper partnership and cooperation with the United States with emphasis on international policy issues, trade and investment.
Ambassador Patten, a seasoned Liberian diplomat, was recently commissioned by President George Weah to represent the country in Washington, DC. He previously served in various diplomatic missions, including Ambassador to Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, the African Union and Charge D’Affaires, A.I at the United Nations.
Ambassador Patten was handpicked as Liberia’s ambassador to the United States by President George Manneh Weah and given letters of credence without having been confirmed by the Senate. The Senate, referred to the President’s act as “unconstitutional”, followed by appeals for his recall to reconcile the two branches of government.
Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence in a letter wondered to the senate, “How then [could] the President nominate but, without the consent of the Senate, appoint and commission Patten? This action by the Executive is a sheer violation of the Liberian Constitution.”
“The Constitution, which is the organic law of the state, is very clear and for the sake of understanding and observance, depicts in Article 54b: ‘The President shall have nominated and, with the consent of the Senate, appoint and commission ambassadors, ministers, consuls….,’” Senator Lawrence’s letter, dated on Monday, January 14, 2019, and read before plenary on Tuesday, January 15, noted.
The Senate, therefore in its first sitting Tuesday in the central-cool but not-spacious conference room of the new Chinese constructed Senate Annex on Capitol Hill, was further requested for its constitutional indulgence to “invite Findley and Patten so as to explain their actions and reasons, which necessitated the constitutional violation.”
Meanwhile, with the official recognition of Ambassador Patten in the midst of the controversy, many people have wondered how the Executive and the Legislature could work together, since the Executive, had shown its unwillingness to follow the constitutional arrangement to ensure unity of purpose in their collaborative work for the Liberian people.