- UP, MOVEE, others demand President Weah
By. G Bennie Bravo Johnson
President George Manneh Weah on Tuesday, August 16, 2022, suspended the three senior officials of his government who were designated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Department of the Treasury of the United States of America.
According to the Executive Mansion website, the Liberian President has immediately suspended Nathaniel McGill as Minister of State, Bill Twehway as Managing Director of the National Port Authority, and Sayma Syrenius Cepheus as Solicitor General so that they can be investigated.
The National Port Authority’s (NPA) Managing Director, Mr. Bill Twehway, the Solicitor General, Sayma Syrenius Cephus, and Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill, have all been sanctioned by the US Government through the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the Department of the Treasury for their roles in public corruption, including the theft of state assets.
However, several opposition politicians and political parties are instead demanding the President dismiss the three officials in order to save Liberia’s reputation.
The former ruling Unity Party (UP) in a statement condemned the President’s action, describing it as a mere suspension of the three sanctioned officials, and called on President Weah to dismiss them and use the evidence from OFAC to facilitate a speedy investigation and subsequently prosecute the named officials. The Unity Party believes the president’s actions are cosmetic and clearly indicate his lack of political will to fight corruption.
“The Unity Party thinks that President Weah has gotten rich off of his lieutenants’ theft, which is why he hasn’t taken stronger action against his friends who have been caught up in a series of corruption reports,” the statement said.
The UP wants the Liberian people, members of all opposition parties, civil society organizations, the media, and other progressive groups to make sure the report is treated with the utmost care and urgency while pushing for what is best for all Liberians.
In addition, the Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE), in a press statement, under the signature of its Acting Chairman, Goodrich Cheayan, demanded the immediate resignation or dismissal of Nathaniel McGill, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs; Mr. Bill Twehway, the Managing Director of the National Port Authority; and Sayma Syrenius Cephus, the Solicitor General, in order to save Liberia’s image.
According to the statement, the designation of these three top officials is a blatant example of the Weah-led government’s widespread corruption, abuse of authority, poor administration, and lack of respect for the law.
The MOVEE said that the three officials should be fired because they broke the public’s trust, ruined Liberia’s government system, and made the Liberian Government and its people look bad.
The party urged President Weah to consider the sanctions’ ramifications, which state that “Persons who participate in specific transactions with the individuals listed today may also be exposed to sanctions or subject to enforcement action.”
MOVEE said that if President Weah doesn’t get rid of these sanctioned officials, they will think that he is either in on their dishonest behavior or supports it.
There have been numerous public outcries against these officials for corruption and failure to discharge their respective duties, but the president has taken no affirmative action to penalize them.
“Today’s actions by the Treasury Department show that the U.S. is still committed to holding corrupt people accountable and continuing to help the Liberian people,” the White House said.
All three were hit with asset freezes on accusations of committing corruption in a country where such acts have long undermined its democracy and economy. The Treasury said that the sanctions were a reaffirmation of the U.S.’s promise to hold corrupt people accountable, no matter what their job or political position is.
“All three of these individuals have contributed to Liberia’s worsening corruption,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. “These designations show that we are committed to putting the United States Strategy on Countering Corruption into action and to working with the Liberian government and people to help the country find a better way forward.
In the meantime, the President has told the top assistants of the officials who have been fired to do their jobs.