US Congressional Delegation CSOs, Accountability Institutions to Ensure Democracy Works in Liberia

MONROVIA – The head of the U.S. Congressional Delegation to Liberia, Rep. Gregory Meeks has told heads of integrity and accountability institutions in Liberia that the U.S. government has an obligation to make democracy work in Liberia and the help of the civil society in Liberia will be highly solicited.

Rep. Meeks who serves as the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Committee Chairman said, he is using his tenure to ensure that countries like Liberia are prioritized. He said, “Africa will not be on the back burner” of the Committee’s foreign policy agenda under his watch. 

Rep. Meeks, during the meeting emphasized President Biden in the U.S. Government’s commitment to ensuring fellow governments represent the desires of the people.

The meeting was held on Monday and was intended to learn about efforts civil society organizations and the Financial Intelligence Unit are undertaking to fight corruption, expand the civic space, and improve governance.

Representative Meeks, who represents the 5th congressional district in New York, was joined by Representatives Joyce Beatty of Ohio, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Ami Bera of California, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Brenda Lawrence of Michigan, and Troy Carter of Louisiana.  The delegation is also visiting Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, and Tanzania during their trip.

Rep. Meeks call for ensuring that democracy works in Liberia comes barely a fortnight after U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Michael McCarthy called on the civil society including the Liberian media to work with the Government of Liberia to ensure President George Weah’s pledges he made during the Biden Summit for Democracy is achieved.

According to the United States Government, the presidential initiative for democratic renewal is an expansion of its efforts to defend, sustain, and grow democratic resilience with likeminded governmental and non-governmental partners. It centers on five areas of work crucial to the functioning of transparent, accountable governance, including supporting free and independent media, frightening corruption, bolstering democratic reformers, advancing technology for, and defending free and fair elections and political process.

The maiden edition of the summit was held in December 2021, where President Weah joined U.S. President Joe Biden and scores of world leaders virtually where he made several commitments aimed at strengthening Liberia’s democracy.

He pledged to amend the Anti- Corruption Act to grant direct prosecutorial powers to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), propose legislation for the establishment of a dedicated criminal court for the prosecution and convictions of public officials, individuals, or institutions engaged in corrupt practices and financial offenses, continue efforts to end gender-based violence, engage with traditional leaders to end all forms of harmful traditional practices, and propose an anti-female genital mutilation bill.

The President also committed to promoting fairness, transparency and accountability in election funding; prioritize the participation of more women in electoral process and positions in the government, make all legislative votes public and formalize customary land tenure.

The people of the United States give more than $110 million each year to help Liberians continue to grow their democracy, practice free and fair trade, invest in their people, and build upon the results to produce a peaceful and more prosperous tomorrow.  Civil society organizations and governmental oversight offices are essential to accounting for the efficient and appropriate use of these funds to benefit the people of Liberia, and ensuring remedial action is taken when deficiencies are found.

On June 3, 2021, President Joe Biden issued a National Security Study Memorandum on the Fight Against Corruption to establish anti-corruption as a core U.S. national security interest.  The United States is leading by example and partnering with allies, civil society, and the private sector to fight the scourge of corruption. But this is a mission for the entire world.  We must all stand in support of courageous citizens around the globe who are demanding honest, transparent governance.

Attending the event were three organizations that are partnering with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for a new, five-year civil society strengthening program, including the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), Naymote Partners for Democratic Development, and Accountability Lab Liberia.  In addition, The Carter Center, an implementing partner of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), and the Government of Liberia’s Financial Intelligence Unit participated.

Representative Meeks spoke about how he is focusing his tenure as Chair of the influential House Foreign Affairs Committee on prioritizing countries like Liberia, noting that “Africa will not be on the back burner” of the Committee’s foreign policy agenda under his watch.  He echoed President Biden in the U.S. Government’s commitment to ensuring fellow governments represent the desires of the people, stating that “We have to make sure democracy works, and we can’t do that without civil society.” 

Finally, Representative Meeks emphasized that the actions that happen now will have profound effects on the future, making them all the more important, a sentiment he shared often during the delegation’s visit to Liberia. He told leaders and experts at the roundtable that “you are laying the foundation for stronger governance and for a generation that hasn’t even been born yet.”

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