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More (Kroll) Reports to Come If Public-Sector Corruption is Not Contained, the Power of the Imperial Presidency is not Curbed, and Decentralization of Government is Not Part of the Package

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh

The country we know today as Liberia that we care so much for needs serious reform because of the way the government and all of its functions are structured and poorly managed.

Unless you are a political minimalist or an opportunistic Liberians who just want a piece of the pie and is content with what you have because you either returned to Liberia to work, to steal and relieve yourself of the hardship and the bad decisions you made in the US and elsewhere and refused to see the light, are not enough reasons to maintain the status quo.

That is because the current political system that grants absolute power to the President of Liberia is archaic, unsustainable, anti-development, anti-progress, and anti-everything that the people of Liberia stands for, because it is a sick system that transforms a sitting president into God who must be celebrated, flattered, worshipped and feared, else.

 Whenever a sitting president interferes with the process and manipulates it openly or behind the scene to further his or her selfish personal agenda at the expense of the country, weakens existing institutions and makes a mockery of the process.

The Kroll report, the much-talked-about explosive report that revealed massive official corruption in the Liberian government, and the back-and-forth financial misappropriation drama (blamed game) between the Sirleaf administration and the Weah administration, is evident of the painfully circuitous and corrosive political system that defines the current form of government in Liberia.

As the powerful presidency continues to suck oxygen out of the legitimate functions of government and institutions and make them powerless and into his or her own image, all eyes then (regarding the missing billions and other national crisis) are not on the investigative agencies of government to make the crucial forensic investigative decisions to find the alleged criminals, but are on the almighty president of Liberia to make the final decision.

The President of Liberia as the judge, the juror, the sheriff in town, and the only person who can jail and pardon criminals and others, and also the singular person who can drag a serious national crisis into oblivion until it escapes our collective consciousness, exposed the Liberian political system as a one-man show that is as powerful as a criminal cartel.

With zero or little press conference to his credit on any national crisis intended to brace the nation of an impending emergency, or to instill confidence in the Liberian people and calm their anxious nerves about what is ahead, Mr. Weah, who treats the presidency as an entitlement, is as nonchalant and dubious about the job’s description and appears to hug and cherish this non-football victory, the Liberian presidency, as a prized possession.

The Kroll Report is not only a detailed account of our national failure to solve our national crisis but a revelatory indictment and a failure to curb the massive criminal enterprise of public-sector corruption that has occurred in successive Liberian governments which haunts us and stares at us on a daily basis.

According to the Kroll Report (1. Introduction), “In August 2018, the Government of Liberia received reports about suspicious activities concerning the shipment of new Liberian Dollar (hereafter “LRD”) banknotes totaling LRD 15.506 billion to the Central Bank of Liberia (hereafter the “CBL”) that had allegedly gone missing, and subsequently requested the Liberian National Police (hereafter the “LNP”) and the National Security Agency (hereafter the “NSA”) to investigate the allegations.”

The Weah administration assumed office January 22, 2018, seven months after his government received those suspicious reports concerning the shipment of missing new Liberian Dollar banknotes totaling LRD 15.506 billion to the Central Bank of Liberia.

It was a monumental mistake that President Weah, who is believed to have been compromised by former President Sirleaf, to reject the idea for his financial team to audit the outgoing president immediately after he became president.

Even the initial findings from the Liberian National Police, the National Security Agency, the president’s own Presidential Investigation Team, and the Financial Investigative Team, did not shake Mr. Weah’s conscience to get fully involved in the investigation to find the missing billions.

Had Mr. Weah allowed the forensic auditing of the outgoing Sirleaf administration to proceed, it would have at least provided him and his trusted financial ‘guru’ Samuel Tweah, a genuine cover from the allegations of alleged criminal financial complicity, and the excruciating criticisms of coverups and corruption that has engulfed the Weah administration.

So, if you are the incoming president who ignored the overwhelming calls from a cross-section of your citizenry to audit the outgoing president, and you refused to do, do you think you are in the clear now to take the moral high ground to tell the world and the Liberian people that your administration has no part to play in the billions that were stolen?

The recent arrest of presidential son Charles Sirleaf (who has since been released on bond), and others for the missing billions, though it may seem like justice is finally taking shape in Liberia, leaves a cloud of suspicion in the minds of Liberians who believes Mr. Sirleaf got special treatment for his release.

Then again, Liberians are not only suspicious of the selective arrest and incarceration of Charles Sirleaf, who alleged to have played a key role in these financial transactions, but also questions why only Charles Sirleaf, and not Samuel Tweah, whose name also appeared in the report as playing a crucial role in the financial saga that gripe the nation.

Liberia cannot continue to be governed by an imperial president whose handprints are on everything and all over the place – from the judiciary to the legislative branches of government, and the various local governments whose political leaders are appointed by the President of Liberia.

 A robust decentralization process that takes power away from the President of Liberia and put it into the qualified hands of elected officials and their communities will empower those officials to do their job without fear of retribution. 

Category: Editorial, News Headlines

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