US Embassy Warns against “Irresponsible” Speech by Gov’t Officials

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Cautioning Liberian officials against divisive speech, US Ambassador to Liberia, Christine Elder (far left), has called out Sen. Prince Y. Johnson, Rep. Yekeh Kolubah and Deputy Min. Eugene Fahngon for potentially inciting "unlawful acts through ill-considered rhetoric that could jeopardize Liberia’s hard-won peace and security."

The United States Embassy near Monrovia has issued a stern statement on remarks made in recent times by some government officials which, accordingly, have serious security implications and the propensity to impede Liberia’s progress.

In a position statement issued on Monday, May 6, 2019 in Monrovia, the Embassy specifically pointed out Nimba County Senator and ex-warlord Prince Y. Johnson, Montserrado County District #10 Representative and ex-fighter Yekeh Kolubah and Deputy Information Minister Eugene Fahngon as those making derogatory statements that could undermine peace and progress in the country.

In the statement, the embassy said “Those who promote through their words and deeds a Congo-Country divide do not have Liberia’s best interests or that of their constituents at heart, but rather appear motivated by personal ambitions or fears.” The Embassy further noted: “It is unacceptable for Senator Prince Y. Johnson, Representative Yekeh Kolubah (ex-generals) or other former actors in Liberia’s civil wars to incite unlawful acts through ill-considered rhetoric that could jeopardize Liberia’s hard-won peace and security.

The embassy also indicated that, “It is equally irresponsible for people within leadership positions in government or the ruling party to promote such division as Deputy Minister Eugene Fahngon has done on social media,” adding, “To take such a public stance and suggest it is a private opinion or a personal right reflects a misunderstanding of the nature of public service in a democracy.”

As May 14 approaches for Liberians to celebrate National Unification Day, the United States Government, through its embassy in Monrovia, is encouraging all Liberians to reflect on their role in constructively contributing to development and sustaining peace instead of preaching divisive and hate messages that are not in the interest of peace.

“To take such a public stance and suggest it is a private opinion or a personal right reflects a misunderstanding of the nature of public service in a democracy.”

-US Embassy, Liberia

Following the US Embassy statement, President George Weah suspended Deputy Information Minister Eugene Fahngon for his comment on social media that those planning protest are “Congo,” not the “natives.”

According to a release from the Executive Mansion, President Weah said his government remains committed to a “One country, one people” policy with zero tolerance on divisive politicking or tribalism.

President Weah in the release warned government officials and all citizens to stop dividing Liberians along ethnic lines.

Although President Weah said he is against divisive politics, there have been a lot of criticisms coming to his government against having more south-easterners in his government than any other region in the country. Moreover, the President and his lieutenants have raised the ire of citizens who have observed that most members of his administration and of the Legislature have yet to publicly declare their assets.

Additionally, there have been public criticisms that the chairman of the ruling party, Mulbah Morlu has been taking lists of CDC partisans to ministries and agencies of government for employment, adding undue pressure to the government’s wage bill, while ignoring Civil Service guidelines.

Meanwhile, Fahngon, being one of the most vocal apologists of the Weah administration, is just a single official facing an action by the President who appears to be under international pressure to silence what borders on hate speech and undermines Liberia’s peace and security.

The chairman of the ruling party, Mulbah Morlu once stated publicly that some members of opposition political parties had planned to assassinate the President; a statement Mr. Morlu could not defend, despite public outcry demanding that he provide proof for his allegations.

Morlu over the past week also accused former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of financing the planned June 7 protest against the system of governance and the economic condition.

7 COMMENTS

  1. George Weah just woke up from his slumber to suspend his Deputy Information Minister Eugene Fahngon but Weah can’t even grow some balls to fire him…pathetic.

  2. I am apolitical; and so, in this token, I hold no exclusive brief for any political groups whatsoever. Nevertheless, independent observers have stated that in spite of all of former President Ellen’s faults, Liberians did not experience the intensity of tribal tension as they are experiencing now under President Weah. This explanation accounts for one of the reasons that he, President Weah, is referred to as the re-incarnation of former President Doe.

    The tribal politician’s citadel is his resolve to always revert to divisive ethnic politics when his own political hellscape begins to haunt him and all else is crumbling beneath him. And by doing so, he begins to relish the idea of playing divisive politics and promoting some of the most baseless; virulent; and baneful propaganda in pursuance of the same old agenda that, in the first place, brought the country to where it is. What a sad pathology.

    Many of the practitioners of this kind of politics are very insidious, and they know how to exploit the vulnerabilities of the Liberian masses especially the uneducated, uninformed, and illiterate mass public.
    Through the mastery of the art of identity politics, the tribal politician is deeply and rapidly driving a wedge within the society and transforming it into various diametrically opposed tribal groups.

    For example: one of the tribal politician’s deadliest political weapons was to use the anti-educational rhetoric, a dysfunction that became so apparent during the past election. A video went viral during the campaign season showing President Weah himself practicing this kind of politics. Instead of then Senator Weah standing up for values such as education; industriousness; good governance; and espousing a sense of patriotism for one’s country, he was seen telling his constituents that education does not build a country.
    And of course, the quintessential reason behind the inclusion of an anti-educational tone into the rhetorical mix by any politician, would only serve one purpose. And that is to cause his so-called native partisans to draw the conclusion that the problems of the society are derived from their Congo counterparts since they are the most educated ones.

    Another primary example of the intensity of tribal (ism) under President Weah as is heard through the echo chambers is the incident that occurred quite recently concerning the $25 million liquidity mopping exercise. The president was quick to incarcerate Robert Sirleaf et al. And then the question arose as to why he did not include Mr. Samuel Tweh, his finance minister, when as a matter of fact he played a pivotal role throughout the entire controversial, mopping activity.

    And so the rumors circulating among Liberians is that President Weah is dispensing justice base on an individual’s tribe or ethnic origin.

    Identity politics is very dangerous for any society, and it is counterproductive. The messages that are often transmitted from such politics become ingrained on the psyche of our impressionable youths; and eventually they do manifest themselves as a self-fulfilling prophesy when they grow up with the drive and ambition to give leadership to the nation and are ill-prepared because the preceding generations did not prioritize or neither stressed the role and contribution of education in the advancement of any culture and civilization.

  3. A very good analysis of president Weah’s government and for first time, he, President did
    The right thing to suspend the deputy information minister for his arrogantly remark, which have propensity to divid the masses.
    The president should have gone so far to fire him instead of suspension. I listened and observed deputy Fargon making provocative statements during his radio talk show in the United states during the 2017 presidential ekection in which CDC candidate was campIn
    Campaigning against vp Boika.
    Finally , l liked US Embassy warning to the socalled gov. Officials, especially to Senator pyj.

  4. Mr. Charley Price

    You wrote “… Congo counterparts since they are the most educated ones.” Not true;
    they are not the most educated in Liberia since the late 1970s when others were getting out of schools in large numbers. I am one of those in the Sciences with very good degrees.

    Tolbert was an inclusive person. The others were in power for more than a century but did nothing to educate the country; extreme wicked people?

    It looks like you do not know the Liberian History when it comes to such issues?

    I’m a Lutheran and thank God to those Missionaries who helped us. The Lutheran, Catholics, etc built very good schools to international American standards for everybody.

    Liberian are not interested in those tribal groupings; Congo vs Country? That issue never came up to me in any Lutheran, Catholic, etc or Missionary schools.
    I heard it was once an issue in Cuttington University at which time Tolbert stopped all student politics. It was also an issue at UL in Monrovia and I think it is still there. I just got into politics (2017) because most people making decisions for Liberia are not properly educated; that has been our history.

    Is the president selecting his government toward his tribe mainly? If true, its a dead end street because most people who voted for him are not from his tribe?

    Many Liberian said education is not important. We know it is not true.

    ***
    Maybe they should hold off the demonstrations for now and allow more discussions because our population may not really understand why the demonstration?

    God bless Liberia.

  5. Of course, “irresponsible speech” by officials should be discouraged. However, comparing the embassy’s baritone with its stony silence during a joint statement by UN, AU, and ECOWAS warning against “media messages that promote violence” amid incidents of deadly vigilante justice including burning down of a police station, makes one to wonder what the heck happening here.

    Not surprisingly, already agents provocateurs on social media networks see this action by our benefactors, protectors, and tutors as a nod to June 7; and it will not only confuse scared residents in Monrovia, but also embolden resolve of the Council of Patriot. Are these unnerving outcomes the intended purpose, that’s the $64,000 question? In that case, ‘I pray not’ should be considered an understatement.

  6. Mr. Charley Price, the excerpt from your statement which notates that “…Nevertheless, independent observers have stated that in spite of all of former President Ellen’s faults, Liberians did not experience the intensity of tribal tension as they are experiencing now under President Weah”, is totally false and misleading. It’s no telling you’ve been a victim of historical fallacy. Was Weah a part of the April 14, 1979 rice riot? Weah was not even a teenager at that time. Was Weah a part of the April 12, 1980 coup? No. What was sung during the jubilation and chanting, “native woman born soldier, Gongo woman born rogue”, so sad. Was Weah anywhere in politics, NO,he was in elementary school by then, no where around politics. In 1985, when Madam Sirleaf, whom you’re deceitfully masquerading as a hero, brought in Gen. Thomas Quiwonkpa to stage the invasion, was Weah anywhere in politics. This same witch, founder of the NPFL, contracted Taylor that stage the bloodiest arm insurrection that claimed the lives of over 250,000 innocent Liberians, was Weah in politics, no he was playing soccer in Europe, doing something positive while Ellen was destroying the country. Those are the chronology of events that created the divide for which we’re still fighting to mend up till present day. Why would you choose to be a COLD-BLOODED LIAR?

    The aftermath of the war created thousands of ex-rebels who were not properly rehabilitated, Yekeh being one of them, and this pose a great challenge to the social tranquility of the nation. Most of these ex-combatants created by Ellen and her criminal compatriot Charles Taylor have been disbanded, moving from one political group to another in search of socio-economic imperatives that would better their lives, hence Weah, being a philanthropist accept them but you describe their attitudes to be disgruntle CDCians. CDC created no disgruntle folks, Ellen, Doe and Taylor did.

    The U.S. Embassy expressed concern about reckless statements from Sen. Prince Y. Johnson, Hon. Yekeh Kolubah, and Deputy Minister Fargon, but all you advance are issues of divisive politics presumably caused by Weah. Don’t pretend that you’re not cognizant that Weah walked into this divide that has been existing for years to the extent it culminated into a bloody civil war, spread into Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast. Presently you see nothing wrong with the incessant statements from Hon. Yekeh Kolubah that “President Weah would step down within three months”.

  7. An anonymous philosopher once said, “A leader must make decisions quickly and wisely; be independent; act and stand firm; be a fighter; speak openly, plainly, frankly; make defeats his lessons; cooperate; co-ordinate; use the best of any alliances or allies; walk with active faith courageously toward danger or the unknown; create a knowledgeable staff; know, learn, love and represent the best interests of his people; be loyal, be truthful, be frank and be faithful; have a high intelligent and worthy purpose and ideal. Do justice; love mercy; fear no man but fear only God.”

    This philosophical statement of what it takes to be a leader is what I witnessed in President Paul Kagame and his government officials vision for Rwanda when my family and I traveled to Rwanda recently for a visit. We visited the renowned African Leadership University (ALU) in Kigali, which looks like a mini African Union University.

    I first noticed the orderliness, the functionalities of the government system, the tight security system, the cleanliness, and the massive infrastructure development that is ongoing. Their agriculture sector, lighting and water system are superb not only in the city but throughout the rural provinces.

    I noticed, to curb some of the root causes of tribal division that led to the 1994 horrific genocide, Rwandans barely refer to themselves through tribal or ethnic identity. They rather refer to themselves as simply Rwandans rather than be called a Hutu or Tutsi. They are teaching their ugly past and turbulent history in schools, and they have a museum to remind them of their tragic history.

    I wish Liberia could emanate some of these positive attributes that Rwanda has implemented to unify their country. I know Liberia has a long way to go in unifying the country. The civil war only widened Liberia’s ethnic division. It is extremely sad to see how some lawmakers and government officials, who make up less than 1% of Liberia’s population, are living lavishly (from exorbitant salaries) about 80% of the country meager revenue while 99% of ordinary Liberians live on less than $2.00 a day, are now using fear mongering, and the old “divide and conquer” politics for their own personal aggrandizement and political expediency.

    President Weah should be very mindful of these people who are giving him wrong advice. Many of his so-called trusted lieutenants have tasted power and wealth because of President Weah’s popularity, and they will do unscrupulous things, even to the detriment of this nation and his presidency just to seek their own interest. The international communities are giving the clarion call, and it’s time for our president to pay heed or learn from history!

    Many self-centered people don’t realize how small and interconnected the people of Liberia are. The people of Liberia are connected through inter-marriages, tribal lineage, religion, social affiliation, political affiliation, and national affiliation, and even through the mass exodus of Liberians who left the country and married to foreign nationals: are all interconnected to Liberia through some linage.

    Therefore, this old “Country and Conqua” divide is used only by fear mongers as a self-preservation mechanism to hold upon power. These self-centered individuals fail to realize that Liberia is now a melting pot, and it is time for all Liberians at home and abroad to work together just as the Rwandans are doing by saying no to tribalism and working together to develop Rwanda.

    Any government official or citizen who goal is to divide the people of Liberia after all the atrocities (death and destruction) Liberians experienced, will be considered “callous, self-centered, and a deviant” person.

    Remember, “Where there is unity, there is Strength.”

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