Liberia: Random Thoughts of Dr. Abdoulaye Dukule on Liberia and the Coming Presidential Elections

Maryland, USA-President George M Weah came to the United States of America and stopped over at the Central Intelligence Agency – CIA-. Nothing filtered from the visit. In the absence of any official report, everyone came up with their own theory.

In the presidential camp, the visit centered on strategic issues regarding US interests in West Africa and the role Liberia is expected to play in countering Russia and China. It was suggested through a certain press that US and Liberia were about to reach an agreement on basing the Africa Command in Liberia. In the end, according to the same unfounded rumors, the US has decided to do serious business with the Weah Administration.

In the opposition camp, the US called in President Weah to speak about issues that are undermining peace and stability in Liberia. It is rumored that President Weah was to be asked about corruption, deaths, human rights violations, and other matters that are concerning the US. Some went as far as the president being asked to put an end to his re-election campaign.

Notwithstanding all the speculations, the Liberian government issued no corrective statement. Nothing came from the US. Holding to their positions and building on their wishful thinking, each side perceived the CIA visit as a plus, something that would help with the presidential elections. For Weah supporters, the unprecedented visit by a foreign sitting president at the CIA means simply that the US has chosen a side.

For those in the opposition, the US clipped Weah’s wings and wants him out. Whatever the fact may be, the most disturbing aspect of this dichotomy is that both sides expect that the US would intervene somehow in the electoral process and favor one side over the other.

This obsession for US support is ingrained in the Liberian political psyche as far back as the time of the one-party state system. In his book on Liberia and US relationships during the Cold War, Dr. Elwood Dunn writes about how important it was for the Liberian government to be seen as having the total support of Washington to carry out their oligarchic governance. Samuel Doe used the same US support to carry out his dictatorship until he was no longer needed.

The US has already contributed to the Liberian elections. Every action or inaction of the US in Liberia for the past five years has been a gift to the opposition. The sanctions against the top officials of President Weah’s administration and their resignation were a momentous moment. Every branch of the US government has openly condemned the level of corruption in the country. The most recent report by the State Department on human rights points to even more governance ills, including murders.

At some point, Ambassador McCarthy called on Liberians to seize the moment. Have they? The US took action but Liberians did not seize the moment. Another action – and inaction – is that President Weah is the first Liberian elected president in modern times – except Charles Taylor – not to be invited to the White House despite meeting a few times in international fora and taking pictures and selfies. It shouldn’t matter but being recognized by Washington is a major issue for Liberian politicians. The fact that President Weah would come to Washington and only visits the CIA is significant. Negatively.

President Weah is the first Liberian elected president in modern times – except Charles Taylor – not to be invited to the White House despite meeting few time in international fora and taking pictures and selfie

Since the US-Africa Summit in December 2022, scores of officials of the Biden administration have been crisscrossing Africa. The American military has been conducting exercises in Africa, with no Liberian participation. But who went to Liberia?

This a clear indication that the “strategic importance of Liberia” in US Africa policy is nothing to take home.

President Weah and his supporters (Congress for Democratic Change is a Liberian political party formed by supporters of George Weah’s 2005 presidential campaign) should rely on their governance record to seek re-election. The opposition should take advantage of the moment. The US will not help more than it already has. It is up to each side to step up their game.

President Weah, as an incumbent has a half – a- dozen pathways to re-election but the opposition has only one to beat him.

Liberians will have to stop counting on the “international community” to do their bidding. Every issue is sent to ECOWAS UN and AU. It’s the most primitive aspect of self-subjection. This absolute dependency syndrome, the uncanny desire to be taken care of by others constitutes the weakest link in Liberia’s governance.

Sovereignty. Dependency. Where to draw the line?