Carpe Diem, “Seize the Day,” says the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia
The U.S. Sanctions on crucial players in President George Weah of Liberia’s administration and the motivation by U.S. Ambassador McCarthy for Liberians to “Seize the Day” is an open call by the Americans. The Americans are encouraging Liberians to rid their country of the “kleptocracy,” as U.S. Rep Chris Smith of New Jersey termed the regime.
With clear statements of their corrupt acts, the Global Magnitsky sanction against Liberia’s Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill, Liberia’s Chief Prosecutor Sayma Syrenius Cephus, and Bill Tweahway, the Managing Director of the port, wounds Weah’s administration at the knees. Weah must show courage by removing McGill, Cephus, and Tweahway immediately – anything other than a bold dismissal places his administration at future economic and political risks.
On June 3, 2021, under President Joseph Biden, the U.S. stated, “Corruption threatens United States national security, economic equity, global anti-poverty and development efforts, and democracy itself. But by effectively preventing and countering Corruption and demonstrating the advantages of transparent and accountable governance, we can secure a critical advantage for the United States and other democracies. In other words, members of Weah’s administration are threatening U.S. national security interests.”
Could Weah be Next?
Yes. There is a high probability that President George Weah of Liberia will be sanctioned for running a kleptocratic regime. Moreover, he stands a chance of being cited as running a pariah nation riddled with corrupt individuals.
Has the U.S. sanctioned sitting presidents? Unfortunately, yes. President Donald Trump sanctioned two sitting leaders, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Iran’s Supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.
Former President Barack Obama sanctioned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
As President, George W. Bush sanctioned Myanmar’s leader Than Shwe, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.
Seize the Moment – Is it time for Weah to Go?
Remember, United States sanctions are primarily economic. Still, on a few occasions, they have been used as political and military penalties to change behavior, discourage the use of weapons of mass destruction, stop drug trafficking, and replace governments.
When the U.S. sanctioned Prince Yormie Johnson, the report stated, “As a Senator, Johnson has been involved in pay-for-play funding with government ministries and organizations for personal enrichment. As part of the scheme, upon receiving funding from the Government of Liberia, the involved government ministries and organizations launder a portion of the funding for return to the involved participants. The pay-for-play funding scheme involves millions of U.S. dollars. Johnson has also offered the sale of votes in multiple Liberian elections in exchange for money.”
The significant impact of U.S. sanctions against Liberia will narrow down to a reduction in foreign assistance, a reduction in foreign direct investments, revocation of most favored nation status – including removal from the AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) program, and not being selected to participate on the Millennium Challenge Corporation program.
Banks in Liberia that work with anyone on the U.S. sanctions list are at greater risk of financial loss due to the secondary penalties of U.S. sanctions. In addition, United States citizens and residents who violate these sanctions by dealing with these individuals may face civil or criminal penalties. If the U.S. Treasury department suspects a person or entity of violating these sanctions, it will open enforcement proceedings. The U.S. Department of Justice handles criminal violations of sanctions.
The next moves by President Weah will determine whether his administration survives. But, at the moment, the U.S. wants him out!