A year before Liberia’s presidential election, President George Weah has come under scrutiny for his response to the U.S government’s indictment of three senior officials in his cabinet.
What were they indicted for?
The top ranking members of Weah’s cabinet, who are also his close allies – Minister of Presidential Affairs Nathaniel McGill, Attorney-general Sayma Syrenius Cephus, and National Port Authority chief Bill Twehway – were indicted by the U.S Treasury on charges bothering corruption, bribery, and embezzlement of funds. In a report on the business climate in Liberia in 2022, the United States condemned “widespread government corruption”, which it described as the hindrance to investment, development, and basic infrastructure like electricity and roads in Liberia.
What was Weah’s response?
In response to the indictments of the officials, president Weah’s office released a statement announcing the suspension of the three officials, but that has been described as insufficient. The main opposition leader, Alexander Cummings, said the suspension “is not enough”, adding that, “nor is it enough to protect the president from the growing perception among the people that he is involved in high-profile crimes”. The presidency of Weah, who rode to power in 2017 on the promise of fighting corruption and poverty, has been rocked by scandal.
Did the officials admit guilt?
No, they did not. Nathaniel McGill, who dismissed the charges against him as “vague”, was accused of “bribing business leaders, receiving kickbacks from potential investors, and accepting kickbacks for bringing contracts to companies in which he has an interest”. Calling for the sack of the indicted officials, the NGO Regional Watch for Human Rights said “this should not be just another case”. Under Weah, Liberia was ranked 136th out of 180 by the anti-corruption NGO Transparency International in its 2021 report.