By : Laymah Kollie
Liberia -September 12,2023-With just 28days to the 2023 General Presidential and Representatives Elections in Liberia, the Center for Transparency and Accountability (CENTAL), a pro-Transparency group in Liberia is urging Liberians to vote against corrupt politicians contesting in the elections.
CENTAL’s Executive Director Anderson Miamen made specific reference to sanctioned government officials currently contesting in the October’s polls.
The Pro-Accountability and Transparency group call comes following confirmation of the sanctioned government officials by the National Elections Commission to contest electoral seats in the country despite numerous calls from the public to denied their participation.
It can be recalled April 15,2023, US Department of Treasury sanctioned Nathaniel McGill, former Minister of State and Presidential Affairs, Sayma Syrenius Cephus former Solicitor General and Bill Twehway former Managing Director of National Port Authority based on their involvement in ongoing public corruption in Liberia. Also, on December 9,2021 Senator Prince Johnson of Nimba County and former warlord was sanctioned for corruption while Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County was similarly sanctioned on 9th December 2020 for corruption . Despite their sanctions, Senator Prince Johnson and Senator Varney Sherman are current members of the Legislature. Sen. Johnson is a second term Senator at the Liberian Senate while Senator Varney Sherman completed his first term and is currently seeking reelection in his constituency.
At the same time, both Nathaniel McGill and Bill Twehway are currently contesting the Senatorial seats of Margibi and Rivercess Counties respectively.
Addressing a team of Journalists at its 22nd street Mr. Anderson Miamen, Executive Director of the Center for Transparency and Accountability stated that past government officials negative records in the country can not be trusted with public authorities and funds.
He stressed that their re-entry into higher offices will not bring prospects to the ordinary majority but seek personal interests.
“Do not vote corrupt leaders, when bad leaders come to government they will continue what they have been doing. Do not give these people another chance to loot public resources and misuse power. CENTAL would like to remind Liberians about the need to properly examine the various Candidates vying for public offices. Voting for corrupt and bad leaders will mean stalling development and progress of the country. So, be careful whom you vote for, as you will have to live with the consequences of your October 10, 2023 decisions/choices for the next six to nine years” Mr. Anderson said.
Even though he didn’t mention a specific personality, Mr. Anderson believes there are other reputable Liberians contesting the elections that are best suited to serve the citizenry. “There are other people contesting the elections with no bad record of corrupting public funds, it will be a good thing for Liberians to vote them because if good person comes into power, they will bring good thing”
According to CENTAL boss, Liberia ranks 26 out of 100 in 2022 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of transparency International due to lack of action to prosecute sanctioned officials in Liberia.
“Government’s 26 score out of a possible 100 on the 2022 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Transparency International shows the scale of the problem at hand. The lack of actions against public officials sanctioned by the United States Government for alleged significant corruption shows lack of will and major gaps in the Liberian government’s anti-corruption efforts”
However, on the issue of recent confirmed nominees of the Liberia Anti- Corruption Commission (LACC) Anderson Miamen urged government to fully resource the entity in fighting corruption.
On September 6, 2023, the Liberian Senate confirmed the seven (7) Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission’s Commissioners who were nominated by President Weah on June 8, 2023. Those confirmed by the Liberian Senate included Cllr. Alexandra Kormah Zoe, Chairperson, Mr. Ernest R. Hughes, Vice Chairperson, and Mr. Randolph E. Tebbs, Commissioner for Monitoring and Investigation. Dr. Miatta Jeh and Atty. Samuel F. Dakana were confirmed as Commissioners for Monitoring and Investigation, while Cllr. Oretha Snyder Davis and Cllr. David Wilson were confirmed as Commissioners for Prosecution respectively.
Anderson cautioned confirmed officials to vigorously work in the interest of Liberia and set a benchmark of integrity inline with its obligations.
“we call on national government to provide adequate financial and logistical support to the Commission to operate robustly and independently. CENTAL commends the government of Liberia, its partners, and Civil Society Organizations for their roles played throughout the process, which led to the vetting of these Liberians, their nomination by the President, and subsequent confirmation by the Liberian Senate. Essentially, also, we like to commend the outgoing leadership of LACC, especially Cllr. Edward Kla Martin and his team for bringing relative stability and sanctity to the Commission, after a turbulent past, as the Commission was largely in the media for the wrong reasons. The new batch of officials have an appreciable foundation upon which they can build. Fellow Liberians, Liberia needs a robust, independent, well-resourced, and public-interest driven LACC more than ever before. This is particularly important as Corruption is becoming pervasive in Liberia, especially in the public sector
Considering the criticality of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) in the fight against corruption in Liberia, we encourage the new corps of officers to tread cautiously and lead by example during the discharge of their duties. With the confirmation of these officials, the public expects to see a new, energized, and robust LACC, especially now that it has Direct Prosecutorial Power, which has since been lacking. The Country cannot afford to waste any more time in decisively dealing with her worst enemy: Corruption. While we acknowledge past efforts, they have not been enough to give Liberians the positive results anticipated, as public officials abuse public resources with so much Impunity.”
CENTAL urged LACC new Leadership to robustly and timeline investigate personalities link to corruption in the country.
“We urge the new leadership to endear itself to the public by robustly, timely, and impartially investigating and prosecuting alleged incidences of corruption, including those involving “big hands” in the government. The burden is on the new batch of Commissioners to change these negative narratives and give hope to Liberians by making impunity for corruption an issue of the past. CENTAL, the public, development partners, and other stakeholders will be keenly watching to see if this new LACC will live up to expectation by serving the Liberian people, instead of the appointing authority or so-called big hands in government and other places in society”
Meanwhile, the Institution call on the LACC to forge meaningful partnerships with stakeholders, CSOs and developmental partners in conducting an effective work experience.
“we call on the Commission to forge meaningful partnerships with stakeholders, including civil society and citizens, if it must succeed in her work. Additionally, we call on development partners to provide financial and logistical support to the Commission to be fully operational. We firmly believe that the success of Liberia’s anti-corruption endeavors hinges on collective vigilance and collaborative efforts. CENTAL recommits to being a key partner in this regard”
The Center for Transparency and Accountability (CENTAL) is a civil society organization and national chapter of Transparency International (TI), the global coalition against corruption with chapters and networks in more than 120 countries worldwide. Since 2004, CENTAL has led and sustained active civil society engagement with integrity building and anti-corruption efforts in Liberia.