The recent statement by United States Ambassador accredited to Liberia, Christine Elder, expressing absolute confidence in NEC and urging the parties to proceed to the runoff without delay, has sparked broad criticism and concern among Liberians about unwarranted outside interference with the legal and judicial processes of the ongoing probe into complaints of fraud and gross irregularities in the October 10 elections.
Ambassador Christine Elder’s stance, according to sources quoting remarks by former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and former U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Linda Thomas Greenfield, was not approved by the State Department in Washington, which in other words means Ambassador Christine Elder’s views are but her personal opinion and cannot as such be interpreted as the official U.S. position on the Liberia elections. “Ambassadors do not have to get approval from Washington to issue a local statement, ever,” said former Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield.
Be that as it may, Ambassador Elder’s remarks tend to reinforce widely held perceptions the world over that U.S. Ambassadors usually find it difficult building meaningful and authentic relationships with ordinary people because too often they perceive the local environment through the eyes of the host government. According to Sarah Chayes, author of the book “Thieves of State – Why Corruption Threatens Global Security,” it is a legitimist reflex which distorts U.S. understanding and its conduct of foreign policy.
This is exactly what obtains in the Liberian situation. For the last twelve (12) years U.S. Ambassadors accredited near this capital have consistently turned a blind eye to the avaricious and pernicious plunder of the Liberian state by a kleptocratic ruling elite led by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Over two-thirds of all concession agreements passed into law and signed by President Sirleaf have all been found to be bogus or illegal.
And despite the country’s vast riches plus US$16 billion investments and tens of millions in bilateral and multilateral grants infused into the country, Liberians wallow in poverty, while President Sirleaf has been a recipient of many international awards from foreign governments and institutions. Not once ever, to the best of this newspaper’s recollection, since the inception of this government in 2006, has any U.S. Ambassador made such blatant intrusion into our national affairs as Christine Elder has now done.
And her intrusion bears ill intent because it invokes threats of holding back future assistance and investments if the Supreme Court Bench refuses to be corralled (caged) into making wrong judgments by ignoring very strong evidences of gross irregularities and apparent fraud presented by the challenging parties, the All Liberia Party (ALP), Alternative National Congress (ANC), Unity Party (UP) and Liberty Party (LP).
This newspaper holds the view that were this Ambassador genuinely interested in fair, transparent, free and open elections in Liberia, she would long since have adopted a proactive kind of engagement with both NEC and the public, particularly when alarm bells began sounding about the way a U.S. citizen, Jerome Korkoya, was handling the affairs of NEC.
Unfortunately, the Ambassador did not or could not do so—why? Because she simply lacked the moral courage to raise the issue with this government. She has failed, since the commencement of her tenure, to cultivate meaningful and authentic relations in order to deepen her understanding of the local environment and conditions, preferring instead to see the Liberian situation from a false feminist perspective and virtually through the lenses of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, leader of what is, from all intents and purposes, a bureaucratic, kleptocratic ruling elite.
Liberians are quick to point to the fact, and rightly so, that one full year after the U.S. elections that brought Donald Trump to power, investigations and probes into allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. elections are still ongoing, an alarming development that seriously threatens America’s democracy. But these investigations are not considered out of the way or inappropriate generally by Americans, except maybe for a tiny few Trump diehards.
What then about Liberia, whose blood ties with the U.S. are unquestionable and whose governance institutions are patterned directly after those of the U.S.A? If after nearly 300 years of independence from Britain, the USA is still renewing and perfecting its democracy without interference and vigorously opposing those who seek to subvert its course, it goes without saying that Liberia can and should also do the same and should be left alone to do so. The bitter experiences of 14 years of senseless civil war should remind us that respect for our Constitution and the rule of law are our best guarantor of Peace and Stability in our land.
Or do we take it that Ambassador Elder and her government have forgotten that it was the fraudulent elections of 1985, orchestrated by US surrogate (proxy) Head of State Samuel Doe and his notorious Elections Commission Chairman Emmett Harmon that led us, four years later, to civil war?
The US Ambassador should remember that an ambassador is accredited to a country and its people and not only to the person in power.