Relations between the Republic of Liberia and the Kingdom of Morocco date back to decades. However, like all other bilateral relations that slowed due to the civil war, Liberia's relations with the North African state took a rather snail-pace direction.
When President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Administration finally decided to post a resident ambassador to the Kingdom following almost a decade of only having a charge d'Affaires in the North African country, it was no one but Ambassador Edwin Faseyen Sele who was called to the rescue to revamp a mission that needed to be started from scratch.
With just a year in charge, the Government's decision to have the experienced diplomat oversee its interest in Rabat is paying off immensely.
As January of 2015 marks one anniversary of Ambassador Sele and his team's presence in Morocco, ties between both countries have heightened to the extent that the Kingdom heads the list of African countries that have unconditionally stuck with Liberians and Liberia in the midst of the deadly Ebola virus scourge.
As dozens of other countries adopted an abandoned posture while others instituted more of a stigmatization posture in the face of Ebola, the Moroccan Government ensured that its national airline, the Royal Air Maroc, remained one of the only two commercial flights to maintain its flying schedules between Monrovia and the rest of the world, the other being SN Brussels.
"I'm so happy that the country in which I'm representing my country, Morocco, was able to maintain its national airliner to Liberia despite the disruption of flights from other airlines", a proud Ambassador Sele told a team of Liberian journalists recently visiting Rabat.
But keeping the relations between both Liberia and Morocco in tight has not been that easy.
He recalled that managing an embassy that also has oversight of Algeria with an emerged staff from the Tripoli mission is not an easy task. (The closure of the Liberian Embassy in Tripoli when Liberia severed ties with Libya in 2011 led to the transfer of all the staffs to the Rabat mission.)
Yet, he has succeeded in running the embassy of an emerged staff of two different diplomatic missions since then.
Despite his wealth of diplomatic experience, Ambassador Sele admitted his initial hesitance in taking over the task in Rabat: "Coming to an Islamic country and with more than two decades of working experience in the United States, I was a bit hesitant…. but Morocco has turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The Moroccan authorities have been very receptive and eager to strengthen relations with Liberia".
Within three weeks of his arrival, his Letters of Credence were presented after which there has been a "continuous arm of reception", he said.
With almost three decades of experience in the Liberian Foreign Service, Ambassador Sele has proven that his accreditation to Morocco has been helpful to his country. With his consummate diplomatic skills, he has completely transformed a relatively obscured mission into a viable embassy. He used his good relations to renovate the Chancery in Rabat with no cost to the Liberian Government in the tone of almost US$70,000 (United States Dollars), courtesy of good friends of Liberia.
Additionally, he has helped in the continuation of the Liberian-Moroccan Bilateral Scholarships Program, which came into effect since 1987 from which hundreds of Liberians have benefited. This academic year alone, over 120 Liberian students are enrolled in various universities across the North African country.
Four of such are a set of identical twins: The Fortune Brothers -Anthony and Terrance-as well as Ansumana M. Keita and Unity H. Dokie are medical doctors in their final years. They are expected to fill the some of the gaps being created by the deaths of many health workers during this Ebola crisis.
Under his careful watch, relations between Liberians residing in Morocco and authorities of that country have improved remarkably. He disclosed that close to 1,000 Liberians reside in the country aside from the Liberian schooling population. He stated that some of the Liberians are fully settled through marriages and other means of legal survival.
"The good news is that most of them are now engaged in productive and professional activities, compared to some unwholesome activities in the past", he added.
Referring to the excellent relations subsisting between the two countries, the Ambassador informed journalists that eleven (11) cooperation agreements have been signed dating back in the early seventies when diplomatic relations was formally established, covering the areas of agriculture, aviation, commerce, education, energy, housing, sports and tourism among others. A joint commission meeting between the two countries is expected to be held in Rabat in the not too distant future to identify specific project areas of mutual cooperation. For the most part of last year and now, efforts of the embassy have been geared to sourcing resources to help the Liberian Government in the Ebola fight.
While he thinks there's a need for future government to remember what Morocco has done for Liberia, particularly during the Ebola crisis, he wants Central Government to pay heed to this: "With due diligence and proper policy coherence, Morocco is a willing and trusted partner in the context of South-South cooperation”.