British Ambassador to Liberia, David Belgrove, has disclosed his country preparedness to assist Liberia in the corruption investigation surrounding Sable Mining Company and some Liberian officials including House Speaker, Alex Tyler and Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Sherman.
Ambassador Belgrove pledged the United Kingdom’s support to the investigation at a program that marked the 90th birth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II on June 7, at a resort in Monrovia.
Recounting the many years of mutual relation that has existed between Liberia and the UK, Ambassador Belgrove emphasized that tackling corruption at all levels will help to shape Liberia’s future, “because UK stands ready to support the initiative.”
In May this year, Global Witness unveiled that Sable Mining Company went into dubious deal with some government officials to make the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) Law vulnerable so that the British mining company can have the opportunity to take over
Liberia’s last remaining mineral reserve, the Wologizi mountain in Lofa County.
Since the saga came to light, Senator Varney Sherman who at the time was retained by Sable Mining for legal services and is chiefly implicated in the allegations, vowed to fight the case to victory.
There are mixed reactions about the British Ambassador’s remarks, as pundits remain skeptical about the court’s ability to do justice in the case.
Amidst the UK’s promise to help Liberia in the investigation process, GOL will now have some degree of hope of overcoming the “burden of proof, which lies with the accuser.”
In response to the pledge, Deputy Minister for Public Affairs at the Information Ministry, Isaac Jackson, called it “a welcome development. The British Government continues to express support for the ongoing investigation, and it is our hope that they will be able to help us in the Global Witness investigation to get some pieces of evidence.”
He added that the pledge represents UK’s determination to fight corruption having recently had a forum on corruption.
“We look forward with excitement for the support that the Ambassador pledged,” he indicated.
Relations between Liberia and the United Kingdom date as far back as 1848, when the UK became the first western country to recognize Liberia’s independence.
The relations came to a higher height during the administration of William V.S. Tubman when Queen Elizabeth II visited Liberia in 1962, giving rise to the erection of the Executive Mansion, which is currently under renovation.
In reference to this relation, Ambassador Belgrove maintained that the two countries continue to work together for sustainable development, which Prime Minister David Cameron and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf discussed in recent times to promote.
Amb. Belgrove said there has been progress in Liberia’s reconstruction drive, and UK has remained supportive using its reconstruction fund drive to support the health and education sectors, security and non-governmental institutions including the Accountability Lab.
Ambassador Belgrove said UK has five spaces for young Liberians now to study in that country since they are the future leaders of Liberia.
He also pledged his country’s support to the National Investment Commission (NIC) to attract investors, because the private sector is the main driver of Liberia’s economy.
For his part, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai acknowledged the role of the UK in Liberia’s growth and development and said the two countries share some common purposes.
He named opposition to slavery, commitment to small military contingents in Mali, respect for human rights and chairing of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel of eminent persons on the post 2015 development agenda as some common purposes Liberia and the UK have.
Boakai emphasized that reconciliation, reconstruction, eliminating corruption, encouraging inclusive growth and development and the building of a vibrant society in which resources are efficiently managed, remain pivotal on government’s core national agenda.
Also in response to the British Ambassador’s speech, the head of Accountability Lab Liberia, W. Lawrence Yealue II, said the British Embassy in Monrovia has been supportive of his projects and he was happy because such support makes one to realize that they are doing well.
According to Mr. Yealue, the British Embassy had given the organization a US$10,000 grant intended to enhance the building of a new generation to be conscious of accountability.
He said if the younger generation is conscious of accountability; the older generation’s ideology of unaccountability will die a natural death.
Mr. Yealue said while the British Embassy supports his project, it does not interfere with their work but allows them to use the money as intended.
He disclosed that he will be launching a program very soon to sensitize Liberians about their right to vote and not to vote on tribal or sectional basis, but to puruse candidates’ platforms and ask them how they can achieve the platforms.