Special Feature

Confronting Superstition in Postcolonial Africa

Recently, there have been reported incidents of harmful acts that are connected with traditional beliefs and practices across the region. For instance, some people attacked traders and fishermen for 'tying the rain'. They alleged that the victims controlled rainfall in the area to benefit their businesses. The practice of rainmaking and unmaking is found in other African societies. Fortunately, the police intervened and warned the perpetrators against making such false accusations.


In another instance, ritualists killed five bald men in the district of Milange because their head supposedly contained gold. It is not clear how and when Mozambicans started associating bald heads with gold or magical wealth. Similar superstitious narratives have led to violence in other African cultures. For example, in Nigeria, those who believe that the hump contains some 'precious mineral' attackpeople with a hunchback.

Mozambique, however, has been particularly susceptible to ritual murders in recent years. People living with albinism (PLA) have been hunted down and killed in Mozambique for their body parts. The body parts of PLA are used to prepare magical substances that ostensibly bring wealth and good fortune. In September 2017, ritualists killed and removed the brain of a 17-year-old boy.

Mozambicans who suffer ailments or death impute witchcraft, and those who are accused of witchcraft are frequently attacked or killed. In 2011, at least 20 people were murdered for alleged involvement in witchcraft in Mozambique. Some of those arrested for attacking or lynching alleged witches were even schoolteachers. It has thereforebecome pertinent to explore how these manifestations of superstition and magical beliefs are related to the idea of modernity or the postcolonial context. Why has the spread of modernization not resulted in the disappearance of superstitious beliefs and practices in contemporary Mozambique?

A Reaction to modernity?

Some scholars such as Peter Geschiere, Jean and John Comaroff have designated the manifestations of occult beliefs in contemporary Africa as part of the dividends of Africa's encounter with modernity. They have argued that modern changes have fractured Africa, and disrupted the lives of people within Africa. Ritual beliefs, and superstition-based practices, argue Geschiere and Comaroff, are ways that Africans make sense of these changes.

However, the modernity argument needs to be critically re-examined. First, how is accusing traders and farmers of holding the rain or killing PLA a way of making sense of modern changes? Does modernisation propel people to make witchcraft accusations and lynch alleged witches? How is the crisis wrought by modernisation (whatever that means) connected with magical imputations and ritualistic beliefs? Where is the logic in the argument that modernity is the raison d'etre of the growing visibility of occult beliefs in the region? Are modern phenomena not supposed to be oppositional to magic and superstition?
There is no doubt that modernisation has brought about significant change in African societies. The introduction of state bureaucracy, the school system, science and technology, neoliberal economics and the media has led to social, economic and political adjustments in postcolonial Africa. But occult beliefs and practices predate modernity in Africa. Africans have been using narratives of magic to make sense of their lives and social organisations before the introduction of state bureaucracy and other modern institutions. Modernisation has not led to the total disappearance of magical beliefs. So, is it justified to postulate that the manifestation of superstitions in postcolonial Africa is because of modernity?

In contemporary Africa, people make active use of both the magical and modern. Modernisation has provided Africans with an additional facility and resource in making sense of experiences. Where African people cannot use or access the modern, the magical is deployed. If the modern does not suffice, superstition is relied upon to supplement. People try to explain their misfortune using science and logic or by applying material and naturalistic resources. But where the material and natural are unhelpful and unsatisfactory, where they do not provide the answers and solutions, the supernatural and spiritual is used.

Superstition and magic are waxing strong and manifesting forcefully in places like Mozambique despite the modernisation process because there is some purpose that these ritualistic beliefs and practices are serving which modernity has not addressed.

State Failures

In Mozambique, the state has failed in helping the citizens to meaningfully managethe shortage of rain and other existential uncertainties and anxieties. The required education or awareness is lacking. The state has not provided evidence-based information or response to the problem of limited rainfall especially to people in rural communities. According to a local source, elderly persons in the country languish in poverty: "They do not have access to basic health services, transportation and housing. Most elderly persons do not enjoy psychological and material well-being. They live in deplorable conditions, abandoned by relatives, accused of witchcraft and with little or no income".

The state of Mozambique has been unable to put in place effective poverty alleviation programs for the citizens. There is no functioning social support system to cater for the poor, and the unemployed. So people try to make sense of their unfortunate situations using whatever they can lay their hands on whether they are material, immaterial or mixed. No incentives are extended to farmers and fishermen who are struggling to earn a living. They bear the brunt of poor harvest without state support or subsidy. Traders and others managing various businesses are left to cope with the harsh economic realities.

Conclusion

Due to the lack of effective state interventions and leadership in these critical areas, Africans resort to occult practices to make sense of their lives and experiences. In the absence of modernity, people in Mozambique and elsewhere in the region invoke magic and superstition to help process the existential challenges and uncertainties that they face in their everyday life.

By Leo Igwe

Russia turns to Asian and African markets

Squeezed between the United States and European Union sanctions, Russia has been exploring effective ways to increase the exports of its industrial products under “Made-in-Russia” program to traditional markets in Latin America, Asia and Africa.


The primary strategic goal is to secure Russia’s economic interests abroad while at the same time support Russian industries in raising revenue to modernize Soviet-era industries. But increasing exports especially to African markets, Russia has to confront market competition from Western players and Asian countries such as China, India and the Gulf states.

In a recent interview, Director General, Russian Export Center, Peter Fradkov, explained that Russia has been making every effort to avoid the “raw-materials” export model and focus on developing export-oriented industries and the launch of the Russian Export Center was a key step towards the development of a full-fledged national export support system.

The Soviet Union made a significant contribution to the social and economic development of African countries by building large industrial and infrastructure facilities and helping to establish national education and health care systems. However, in the 1990s the Russian-African relations came virtually to a standstill.

At present, Russia’s foreign trade turnover with Africa is about $12 billion, which is a rather modest achievement. Nevertheless, the African continent remains a rather promising market for Russian industrial goods.

Admittedly, the Government authorities, Inter-Governmental Commissions and the REC are primarily concerned with removing barriers for Russian exporters and opening up foreign markets for them in Africa. Reinforcement of positions of Russian exporters in Africa requires creation of certain conditions and the key task is penetration into the global market.

For this purpose, the Russian Export Center has launched a program to promote Russian goods and services under a single country brand, “Made in Russia”, and in this context, Fradkov pointed out that, “Africa is a very important partner for us, though not an easy one,” adding, that, “Russian manufacturers have a number of specific competitive advantages. Let’s take, for example, agricultural machinery. The main advantage of Russian products as compared to the counterparts by major foreign manufacturers is a lower price and almost the same level of capacity, quality and useful life.

On the other hand, there are some difficulties still inherent in the Russia-African business partnership. According to Fradkov, there are still insufficient awareness of the real economic opportunities, market conditions and specific counterparts in African markets by Russian businesses and poor awareness of capabilities of Russian partners for Africans.”
“We are often faced with discriminatory barriers, which are there not because we are from Russia, but because we have just not thought about how to remove these barriers. Our primary task is to gradually change the thinking of Russian entrepreneurs, who are often skeptical about entering foreign markets, including Africa. Secondly, we strive to promote the image of Russia as a producer of diverse and high-quality products,” he explained.

With new trends and directions in global business, African countries have to look to the Eurasian region as a huge market for exports as well as make efforts to consolidate and strengthen economic cooperation, says Tatiana Cheremnaya, the president of ANO “Center for Effective Development of Territories” and head of the working group on public-private partnership, “Business Union of Eurasia”, based in Moscow.

Cheremnaya discussed here three main points and are as follows:
The problems of effective cooperation between Russia and Africa are political in nature. Thus, the strengthening of Russia’s position leads to the strengthening of its influence in the world, including in Africa and vice versa, sectional policy has significantly reduced Russian exports.
The second problem for the development of Russian-African business is the lack of competitiveness of Russia which allows working only in the low-budget segment. This is due to structural problems in the Russian economy, the need for modernization, the bulk of the products produced during the Soviet Union.

The third problem is competition from the United States, China and India as more developed countries with more advanced technological solutions, and from the European countries as the former “patrons” of African countries.

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, taking part in a congress during the 11th Russian Business Week organized by the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RUIE) early February, discussed how innovative technology is reshaping the global business landscape. He, however, encouraged Russian industrialists and businesses participating in the forum to improve their business approaches in order to have competitive advantages in the global market place.
“This is the most important thing. And fundamentally fresh markets for goods and services will become available, and new leaders will appear as well. Naturally, competition will exacerbate. Clearly, in a situation like that, no one will be playing fair with their competitors, including in the global business environment,” Putin said.

In June 2009 after an African trip, Dmitri Medvedev, as then-president declared that it was not too late for Russia to play a role on the continent. Summing up his trip, he noted frankly that Russia was "almost too late" in engaging with Africa. "Work with our African partners should have been started earlier and that Africa is waiting for our support," he said at that time. Acknowledging that the interest of major international players in Africa is actively discussed on the continent, and Medvedev declared: “We should be also involved.”

Last year, during a discussion panel within the XIV International Conference on Africa hosted by the Institute for African Studies, Evgeniy Korendyasov, head of the department for Russia-African Studies of the Institute for African Studies (IAS) and former Russian ambassador to Mali and Burkina Faso, presented his research report titled “Russia: A Difficult Comeback to Africa” in which he has identified the key bottlenecks as political bureaucracy, lack of leadership and absence of a comprehensive plan of action for Africa.
In his assessment, Russia is gradually emerging as a global player and is becoming stronger and stronger on the world arena after the Soviet era. “Understandably, Africans expect that the level of Russia’s influence to be as high as those of China, India Turkey and so forth. But, it’s very difficult to penetrate the landscape of Africa. Russia today does not have a concrete policy agenda for Africa, its influence has been low over the years because of many obstacles that still remain to solve. Russian authorities need to design and roll out a long-term strategic plan for raising economic partnership with Africa,” he said.

Maxim Matusevich, an associate professor and director, Russian and East European Studies Program, at the Seton Hall University, told me in an interview that “in the past decade there was some revival of economic ties between Africa and Russia – mostly limited to arms trade and oil/gas exploration and extraction. Russia’s presence in Africa and within African markets continues to be marginal and I think that Russia has often failed to capitalize on the historical connection between Moscow and those African elites who had been educated in the Soviet Union.

“It is possible that the ongoing crisis in the relations between Russia and the West will stimulate Russia’s leadership to look for new markets for new sources of agricultural produce. Many African nations possess abundant natural resources and have little interest in Russia’s gas and oil. As it was during the Soviet times, Russia can only offer few manufactured goods that would successfully compete with Western-made products. African nations will probably continue to acquire Russian-made arms, but otherwise, I see only few prospects for a diversification of cooperation in the near future.”

Former Ethiopian ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the Russian Federation, Professor Teketel Forssido, also explained that Russian businessmen think that business can be done from government to government levels (at the state levels) but in many countries business at the state levels has been complimented by private participation.

Using government as an umbrella could be alright, countries such as India, China and others run businesses without government in Africa. The government, of course, has to clear the way for smooth business transactions. “Russians are counting on the authorities to do business, but if they always rely on the state, business can be ineffective. That’s why Russian businessmen are slow as we have seen it,” he said.

According to Forssido, Russia has to open its market for Africa and there are various ways to this. One surest way is to use the existing rules and regulations. The preferential treatments for agricultural products exist but Africans don’t use them. Then, individual countries have to negotiate with the Russian government for their products to enter the market.

Further, the African regional economic blocs can be useful instruments because these blocs are very important and can work with their counterparts to facilitate trade between Africa and Russia. For instance, in COMESA and SADC zones in Africa, goods and services move freely, and now I think these blocs should look into the line of working as regional economic blocs with Russia.
“At the moment, China has done a lot in Africa despite worldwide criticisms. China is not the only player on the continent, but also India, Turkey and other serious players. But, when we talk about Russia, I think it’s not comparable. China has largely involved in Africa, practically in all sectors as we can see. We expect that Russia can do more if they want to, looking at their huge potential capability. They still have their own priorities, anyway,” he pointed out assertively.

As already known, Moscow’s long term goals include developing investment cooperation with African countries, widening the presence of Russian companies in the African markets through increased deliveries of industrial and food products, and enhancing Russia’s participation in driving the economic development of Africa. At the same time, Russia needs to look at simplifying access to its market for African countries.

In one of his speeches posted to the official website, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, noted frankly: “It is evident that the significant potential of our economic cooperation is far from being exhausted and much remains to be done so that Russian and African partners know more about each other’s capacities and needs. The creation of a mechanism for the provision of public support to business interaction between Russian companies and the African continent is on the agenda.”

*Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and a policy consultant on African affairs in the Russian Federation and the Eurasian Union.

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

Sierra Leone: Can the “Lion Mountain” Ever Roar Again?

After the recent fiercely contested presidential election in Liberia, world attention has turned to neighbouring Sierra Leone, which has its own crucial vote on 7th of March 2018. Both countries share so much in common, not just political histories, but devastations of symbiotic civil wars.


Following the American Revolutionary War of the 17th century, and Slave Trade abolition initiatives, freed slaves from America and those “rescued” in the West African region settled with the natives of the two geographical locations known today as Liberia and Sierra Leone. While the American Colonization Society administered pre-independent Liberia, the British Crown held sway in the Sierra Leone Colony until the country gained independence in 1961 with Sir Milton Marghai, the last Acting Governor General as its first Prime Minister.

Much earlier, in the 15th Century, European contacts within West Africa were in the Sierra Leone, with Portuguese explorer Pedro de Sintra, credited with mapping out and naming the Freetown Harbour, Serra da Leoa or Sirra Leoa (Portuguese for Lion Mountains), from which Sierra Leone derived its name.
Like Liberia and many other African countries, Sierra Leone is blessed with natural resources such as diamond, iron-ore, titanium, bauxite, gold, and a vast agricultural land. It rains for much of the year in Sierra Leone, but ironically the country relies on food imports, and as is often the case with many developing African countries, instead being a blessing, diamond became cursed or so-called “blood diamond” for Sierra Leone, during its civil war which started in 1991.The war, which killed more than 50,000 people and displaced some two million others, was notorious for its savagery, ruthlessness and barbarism, involving the engagement of child soldiers and amputation of victims’ limbs among other atrocities.

Thus, Sierra Leone, the home of the famous Fourah Bay College, celebrated as West Africa’s first University and which once had a bragging right as the “bastion of peace and democracy” in the region, lost its glory days. The country today competes in the league of the World’s poorest nations with run down infrastructure and one of the highest rates of infant and youth mortality.

But even without the civil war, Sierra Leone has always been a country of contrasting fortunes. For instance, air travel to the country still terminates at the Lungi Airport. The rest of the journey of less than 30 minutes by sea to the nation’s capital Freetown is completed on a ferry/boat ride across a short stretch of the Sierra Leone River. A helicopter shuttle service started as an alternative was abandoned in 2007 after a terrible air disaster that killed more than 22 passengers. Lungi-Freetown is a laborious six hours by road, so ravelers prefer the ferry ride. This is because of the topography of Freetown, a port city on the Atlantic Ocean with undulating hills, mountains and valleys.

But if the difficult terrain is a natural phenomenon, the political instability, military coups, bad governance and corruption which have characterized Sierra Leone’s chequered political history are largely man-made. Following Sir Milton Margai’s unexpected death in 1964, his half-brother Sir Albert Maigai succeeded him as Prime Minister. But barely six years after Sierra Leone’s independence from Britain in 1961, and few hours after opposition leader Siaka Stevens was sworn in as Prime Minister after defeating Albert Margai in the 1967 general elections, he, was topped in a bloodless military coup. Although Sir Stevens was reinstated a year later, through a counter-coup, the brief military incursion became a benchmark for instability in Sierra Lone, where two political parties, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the now ruling All People’s Congress (APC), have dominated political power. While the Margais were of the SLPP, Stevens belonged to the APC. To his credit, Stevens initiated some socio-economic reforms and made Paramount Chiefs and the Provinces more prominent. He also tried to bridge the distance between the city and the provinces with the construction of roads and provision of social amenities. It was also under his administration that Sierra Leone became a Republic in 1971 and Stevens, as President, was pivotal to the creation of the Mano River Union (MRU), started as two countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone, but has since expanded to include Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.

President Stevens and his APC went ahead to win the 1972 by-elections, boycotted by the opposition SLPP, over allegations of intimidation and obstruction by APC militia. He survived an alleged coup plot in 1974, and another attempted putsch in 1975, which was followed by the execution of the alleged coup leaders. He went on to win another five-year mandate in 1976, with his APC also victorious in a disputed parliamentary election in 1977, but amid growing discontent and allegations of authoritarianism and dictatorship against the government, which made Sierra Leone a single-party State under the 1978 Constitution.

Stevens retired from active politics in 1985 with his anointed candidate Maj.-Gen. Joseph Saidu Momoh installed as his successor. But even with his military background, Momoh faced several coup attempts, but went ahead to become Sierra Leone’s second President following an election in which he was the sole candidate in 1985. President Momoh took a hard stance against corruption with the launch of the Code of Conduct for political leaders and public servants, but an alleged attempt to overthrow his government in 1987 resulted in mass arrests of suspects including Vice president Francis Minah, who was convicted and executed along with five others in 1989.

Bowing to internal and international pressures the Momoh government initiated what his critics called half-hearted political and economic reforms, including the re-establishment of multi-party system in October 1991. But by then, his administration had outlived its goodwill and with the raging civil war in neighbouring Liberia its days were numbered.
There can be no better illustration of the link between the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone than the fact that Liberia’s ex-warlord and former President Charles Taylor is today serving terms in Britain for war crimes committed, not in his home country, but in Sierra Leone. Taylor as leader of the National Patriotic Front Liberia (NPFL) launched the rebellion against then President Samuel Doe in December 1989. He was also accused of helping the formation of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone led by British trained Corporal Foday Sankoh with the aim of dislodging the military base of Nigerian-led ECOWAS Ceasefire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in Sierra Leone, which was then fighting Taylor’s NPFL rebels in Liberia. This was after both men had undergone guerrilla training in Libya.

In an ensuing political confusion, a group of young Sierra Leone Army officers led by Captain Valentine Strasser struck in April 1992, seized power, and forced President Momoh into exile in Guinea. But after four years marked by several real and alleged coup attempts that resulted in further bloodshed, Strasser himself was toppled by his fellow National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) members and forced into exile in Conakry, Guinea in January 1996. Captain Julius Maada Bio, his former ally, and whom Strasser had promoted to the rank of a Brigadier, led the coup plot. The Bio-led junta managed to keep its promise and returned Sierra Leone to constitutional democracy by organizing general elections in 1996, which Ahmad Tejan Kabbah won to become Sierra Leone’s third President under the SLPP platform.

But having tasted power, the Sierra Leone military would not let go. By May 1997 another group of soldiers, this time, led by Corporal Tamba Gborie, who was loyal to Army Maj.-Gen. Johnny Koroma detained over alleged coup plot against the Kabbah government, sacked President Kabbah and forced him into exile in Guinea, which was fast becoming the preferred refuge for dethroned Sierra Leonean leaders. Despite Kabbah’s reinstatement by the Nigerian-led ECOMOG forces in February 1998, Sierra Leone’s vicious civil war and instability were far from over.

When this writer visited Freetown on a reportorial mission after Kabbah’s reinstatement, the once bubbling Salone capital city was a shadow of itself with the war damage and destruction very much in evidence. To underscore the level of instability, that trip from Lagos was only facilitated by ECOMOG in a Lockheed C-130 Hercules military aircraft. Tourist centres in the city including then famous Mummy Yoko Hotel, where the Radisson Blu Hotel sits today, were in ruins with the only functional Cape Sierra Hotel serving as the temporary Command Headquarters of ECOMOG. The regional force was then under the Command of Nigeria’s Col. Maxwell Kitikishe Kobe, who until his death in 2000, served as Sierra Leone’s Chief of Defence Staff in President Kabbah’s government in recognition of his gallantry and contribution to ending the RUF-instigated civil war.

When embattled President Kabbah eventually requested for UN support, the Security Council in 2000 approved the deployment of an initial 6,000 Peacekeepers, later increased to a 13,000-strong force at the peak of the hostilities. However, following the withdrawal of Nigerian ECOMOG troops, the RUF seized some 500 peacekeepers resulting in Operation Khukri by the UN troops to flush out remnants of the RUF rebels.

By January 2002, Kabbah declared the Sierra Leone civil war over and in May of the same year, he was re-elected with a wide margin against the opposition APC’s candidate Ernest Bai Koroma.

The return of relative peace in the country in 2004 encouraged the UN-backed war crimes court to begin trials at The Hague of those with the highest responsibility for Sierra Leone’s civil war. This led to the conviction of Charles Taylor for his involvement with the RUF, whose leader Sankoh had died in detention in July 2003 while awaiting trial.

Although ineligible to run again, having completed his constitutionally allowed two five-year terms, the August 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections in Sierra Leone, represented a referendum on the legacy of the Kabbah administration. The result was a resounding NO for the SLPP whose candidate Solomon Barewa was defeated in the presidential run-off vote by APC’s now outgoing Sierra Leone’s fourth President Ernest Bai Koroma.

While the jury may still be out on the assessment of APC’s 10-year government under Bai Koroma, Sierra Leone’s post-war worries, were compounded by the Ebola virus pandemic of 2014, which killed more than 3,000 people from the estimated 10,000 reported cases in the country, part of a West Africa-wide affliction. And as if that was not enough, Sierra Leone was hit by deadly mudslides from heavy rains, which claimed more than 1,000 lives and displaced tens of thousands of others, with grave health consequences.
It is under this grim context and prognosis that Sierra Leone holds the crucial presidential, parliamentary and local council polls on 7th March. While the APC and SLPP, which have dominated power, are fielding Foreign Minister Samura Wilson Kamara and former junta leader Julius Maada Bio, respectively, as their presidential candidates, there has been significant realignment of political forces ahead of the crucial elections.
Sixteen candidates are contesting for the Executive Mansion. But there are only two women flag bearers even though women account for 52.1% of the country’s population. The stakes are particularly high and whoever emerges winner has his/her job cut out. Kandeh Yumkella, the standard bearer of the newly formed National Grand Coalition (NGC), considered a “third force,” did not mince words, when he declared in a recent interview that “Everything bad is with us,” in a reference to various development indicators which put Sierra Leone on the bottom rouge of the ladder, with 70% of the population living under the poverty line.
The constitutional requirement that a candidate must score 55% of the votes to win the presidency makes a run-off ballot almost inevitable. The contest for Sierra Leone’s unicameral parliament is no less competitive, with more than 795 candidates, including 101 women vying for the 144 seats, including 12 slots for Paramount Chiefs and with 124 of the seats filled by direct election.
Some 3.17 million registered Sierra Leonean voters, out of the country’s estimated seven million inhabitants will be casting their ballots in 11,122 polling stations to elect the nation’s fifth president, who will shoulder the responsibility of moving the country from the devastation of natural and man-made disasters to the path of national development if the “Lion Mountain” is to roar again.
This would be the fourth multi-party elections since the end of the civil war, but it is the first time that Sierra Leone authorities would be taking full responsibility of the electoral process since the withdrawal of the UN Mission in 2014. One tribute which Sierra Leoneans owe the memory of ECOMOG fallen heroes, including the late Kobe, and gratitude to ECOWAS, the UN and the rest of the international community, for their sacrifices for peace in the country, is to conduct themselves responsibly and deliver credible and successful elections for the consolidation of peace and democracy in the country and the region as a whole.
Winners of the March 7 polls must be magnanimous in victory, while the losers must cooperate and all work for Sierra Leone to put its dark past behind it in the interest of development and prosperity.
*Paul Ejime is an International Media & Communications Consultant

REJOINDER TO: “LIBERIA HAS NEVER BEEN AND CAN BE A RACIST COUNTRY” - A NEW DEMOCRAT EDITORIAL

1) The Republic of “Liberia has never been a racist country; that people are wrongly thinking Liberia is practicing a form of Apartheid; and that to believe Liberia is practicing racism is to accuse the victims of racism of practicing racism”;


2) Further, that “the great object of forming these Colonies (Liberia, the original five counties), being to provide home for the dispersed and oppressed children of Africa . . . none but persons of color shall be admitted to citizenship in this Republic . . . but the truth is that 170 years after its independence, Liberians are still victims of economic racism because Lebanese and Indians are still the beneficiaries of the wealth of the nation”.

3) “There is another dimension to the citizenship debate which the President (Weah) is not even taking into consideration or giving prominence, which is the citizenship for natural-born Liberians who, during the civil war, took asylum in other countries and subsequently became (naturalized) citizens . . . but (the President) is only pre-occupied with citizenship for Lebanese and Indians”.

In response, we submit that:

• The foundation of conditions of “Apartheid-type of racism” that the Editorial claims to “have benefited, and benefit today, only Lebanese and Indians” was laid by Liberians, the leading Founding Fathers of the Liberian Nation in 1847, the Lebanese and Indians were not around;

• The Founding Leadership of Liberia’s political institutions have erected, installed, perfected, maintained, subjected and continue to subject and maintain its citizens and others to the system of profound humiliation, debasement and suffering, throughout the century of nationhood, although this is a nation founded by a people who endured and fled from human degradation-dehumanization;

• Many prominent, leading citizens joined, willingly, and became operating partners of a minority, political tyranny that denied majority of the population not only participation in the affairs of the nation, but also citizenship, without aggressive resistance and challenge, although they fled from human bondage and founded their nation on the pledge of democratic pluralism, possessed the education, experience and platform for action, but did not.

• Article 27(b) of Liberia’s 1986 Constitution which has come to be known as the Negro Clause states clearly, unequivocally that “In order to preserve, foster and maintain the positive Liberian culture, values and character, only persons who are Negroes or of Negro descent shall qualify by birth or by naturalization to be citizens of Liberia”. That is, that this Clause shall deny, and denies, Liberian Citizenship to persons, nationalities only, and only because they not Negroes or of Negro descent, the classic discrimination only on the basis of race.

President Weah’s Address
In his first State of the Nation Address, President Weah said that, “In these circumstances, it is my view that keeping such a Clause [Article 27 (b)] in our Constitution (of 1986) is unnecessary, racist and inappropriate for the place that Liberia occupies today in the comity of nations”.

Now, what are these “circumstances”?

a) During 18th century conditions and “circumstances”, the Republic of Liberia was the nation of a people who fled from wrongful, racial discrimination of human bondage and servitude, with social, economic, political and inalienable rights denied and routinely abused with impunity. Therefore, such a law was not only necessary, but also, mandatory, for fear that the non-negro race might gain socio-political control and, again, enslave and persecute its citizens.

b) But in the prevailing 21st century, conditions and “circumstances” have changed dramatically, such that the Nation of freed Negro Slaves has become the high-profiled, internationally-recognized member of the United Nations and participating actor on the world stage in this age of democratic purism, human, civil and political rights of all peoples.

c) Moreover, the Republic is not only a founding member-state of the World Body, but also the willing signatory to all International Treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which forbids member-states from discrimination based on race, gender, age, nationality, sexual preference, religion, etc.

d) It was in the light of these changed conditions and “circumstances” that the Republic of Liberia dragged the Republic of South Africa to court at the International Court of Justice for Racial Discrimination on behalf of the state of Namibia, then under its (South Africa’s) Trusteeship.

These, then, were the “circumstances” of centuries-old, the past, and the now-prevailing “circumstances” in which the Republic of Liberia operates as founding member-state of the United Nations that are inappropriate for Article 27(b), the proposition of the 18th century now known as the Negro Clause, the President argued lawfully, reasonably, morally, truthfully and forcefully.

On Dual Citizenship
It is deeply disappointing as it is painfully troubling to note that the New Democrat Editorial, like the proponents of Dual Citizenship, proceeds from false and fallacious premise-conclusion; that is, that Liberians in the Diaspora were forced into naturalization by the tragedy of the civil war.
But the fact is that all, almost, of the leading proponents of Dual Citizenship, particularly, the academics/intellectuals, left Liberia for “green pasture”, long before the civil war. The less-informed sought to become Liberia’s historical “been-to”.

Taking oath of allegiance, loyalty and patriotism to any country, including our Liberia, is a voluntary, legal requirement that is made known to all applicants. Liberian law upholds the right of any Liberian citizen to choose naturalized citizenship of any foreign country, but may not be citizen of two counties simultaneously, including Liberia.

Thus, the terms “citizen” and “citizenship” are creations of humankind in organized society, the Social State. A citizen is member of an organized political community (the Social State) who is entitled to rights and privileges with obligations and responsibilities, while citizenship is the state or condition of being a citizen, the notion which describes the changing relationship (Social Contract) between the individual, the citizen, and the political community defined by and based on mutually-binding, governing terms & conditions of rights, privileges, obligations and responsibilities of the state to the citizen, and the citizen to a single state at a time and period, under exclusive terms of loyalty, allegiance, and patriotism.

Dual citizenship or Dual nationality, accordingly, is a clear violation of the required, critical terms & conditions of the social contract, with particular respect to the citizen’s obligations/responsibilities to a single state at a time and period, including loyalty, allegiance and patriotism.

None of the Leaders/advocates of Dual Citizenship has yet presented a thought-provoking, micro/macroeconomic, rational and political argument/analysis in support of dual citizenship, other than the usual, worn-out clichés of “western union remittances; political persecutions due to our unfortunate tragedy of the civil war; the pool of highly trained/experienced Liberian citizens-professionals in the Diaspora who can be utilized in the nation’s reconstruction/development effort”. Those issues have been effectively debunked.

And in all of their academic/intellectual arguments and analyses, the proponents of Dual Nationality or Dual Citizenship, now including the New Democrat, have not been able to refute or disprove the natural law of Physics which holds that “no object can occupy 2 spaces at the same time”; nor the age-old TRUTH that “no servant can serve 2 masters at the same time”.

Similarly, no one can be citizen of 2 countries with loyalty, allegiance and patriotism at the same time.

But one of Liberia’s problems with the most profound negative impact – Dual Citizenship – had been and is still with us, although the practice is illegal in Liberia. It has become one of the most important, critical issues of debates in our times; in fact, it is Liberian Political Rulers’ dedicated self-interest and the Nation’s celebrated “Pandora Box”.

In this and related context, Liberia has become the country whose Political Leaders, especially, lawyers and law-makers, are the major law-breakers. They make laws with loop-holes for selective obedience/disobedience to law. Dual Citizenship “is Liberia’s Pan Dora Box”, according to Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, Chairman of Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) before the Supreme Court.

Ministers of state & Deputies; Presidents & Vice Presidents of state-owned enterprises; Senators & Representatives of the National Legislature, Judges and anybody who is or want to be somebody in Liberia is or seeks to be dual citizen, citizen of a foreign country and, simultaneously, Liberian citizen, with passports of both countries, although Dual Citizenship is illegal in Liberia as stated earlier, against Liberian statutory and constitutional law in full force and effect.

But, in her effort to control and manipulate, unlawfully, the lawful functions of the National Elections Commission, former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf appointed Cllr. Jerome Korkoya Chairman of the NEC, knowing, very well, that the appointment was, and is, in violation of Liberian law, because Cllr. Korkoya is citizen of a foreign country, the USA.

Moreover, the Supreme Court, all registered political parties and anybody who is somebody in Liberia refused to remove Cllr. Korkoya as Chairman of the NEC. The Desire/Commitment to protect and maintain Dual Citizenship in Liberia by seeking to amendment/repeal of existing laws against Dual Citizenship is the major reason that plunged Liberia into the recent Electoral Controversy.

But the demand for amendment/repeal is without merit because the socio-economic and political conditions, then prevailing, that gave rise to the passing of the laws against dual citizenship are as valid today, as they were, when the laws were passed.

Our research information of the list of declared political candidates’ citizenship status (though a tip of the iceberg of Liberia’s Pandora Box) is revealing and shows that of the 12 politicians seeking the presidency of Liberia, including the sitting President, 6 or 50% are US citizens, 4 or 33% are in doubt, while 2 or 17% are Liberian citizens. Thus, this is the reason that politicians support illegal appointment of Cllr. Jerome Korkoya as Chairman of the NEC. To protect and secure their self-interests!
The most, profound negative impact of Dual Citizenship is felt in two notable areas in Liberia, namely, National Security and Political/Economic:
National Security
Regarding National Security, the word "allegiance" means that we promise Loyalty, exclusive and unrestrained, with lawful, binding obligation. Because citizenship carries with it, also, the responsibility and obligation to be exclusively loyal to one country at a time, the concept of Dual citizenship raises questions about which of the dual citizenships have priority.

This is extremely important when and where the two countries have opposing interests. In the case of a declared war or real threat of a conflict, for example, our allegiance to the Republic should and must preclude any other interest, be it another country or political ideology.

It can be a deadly problem when and where a dual citizen occupies a high position in our Liberian Government. Can one imagine a dual citizen of an opposing foreign country serving in the Ministry of National Defense during a conflict with that country? Today's conflicts are at Liberia’s door-steps. Liberia is surrounded by nations with governments dominated by militant Muslim-Islamist BOKO Haran, with “weapons of Mass Destruction” which Liberia does not possess.

Political/Economic
Historically, Dual Citizens controlled and dominated Liberia’s Political Economy and Political Decision-making Power during the 170 years of Liberia’s political independence and continuing. Through control and absolute domination of Liberia’s Politics and Economics, fabulous salaries and related incomes, generated in Liberia by Dual Citizens have been, and are being transferred, regularly, out of Liberia to purchase and purchased homes, maintain families and educate children in foreign countries, the simultaneous, second home-countries of these Liberian, dual citizens. They travel, very often, to and from these countries to which they owe exclusive allegiance, loyalty and patriotism, and in which they hold and maintain fabulous bank accounts.

As Dual citizens of foreign countries and, simultaneously, of Liberia who hold major political policy/decision-making power, it is in their best political/economic interests for Liberia to depend, infinitively, excessively and dangerously, on buying imported goods services from these foreign countries, rather than take planning/development decisions for Liberia to establish industrial entities in Liberia for production of goods and services for domestic consumption and the export trade.

Many Liberians . . .
Finally, for an insight and understanding of the argument against the Negro Clause, it is necessary to provide, hereunder, the socio-economic and political perspective.

Many Liberians, including proponents of Dual Citizenship - academics/intellectuals, politicians, economists, lawyers, former officials of the Liberian government, technocrats, professional diplomats and others left Liberia long before the civil war in search of the proverbial greener pastures; and regular, ordinary Liberians fled our country, then engulfed in a deadly civil war and socio-economic and political tyranny. These Liberians, all of the Negro race, including the victims of the civil war who sought and took refuge, settled in Asian, European and North American countries of Non-Negroid Peoples and dominated by their culture.

The Non-Negro hosts or inhabitants of these countries opened their borders, doors, received graciously, and welcomed the Negroid Liberians, including those seeking refuge from war, human suffering and death. These countries, and their people, non-negro, offered and delivered immediate re-settlement, financial assistance, temporal residence, political asylum, permanent residence, employment and granted citizenship, eventually; and:

• These Many Liberians, including their off-springs, sought and became citizens of these non-negro countries.
• Attended/attend their schools, colleges, universities and vocational institutions; some, with financial assistance from the non-negro individuals, business houses and governments.
• Acquired/acquire high-level education, professional training and experience.
• Secured/secure high-paying jobs and positions in the private and public (government) sectors.
• Bought/buy expensive homes and live comfortably with conveniences and services made available by the sweat, blood and other sacrifices made by these non-negro peoples, with investment in retirement and compensation.
• Yes, these many Liberians posted, rightly, will continue to post, in leading world newspapers, heart-warming, successful life stories of hope, peace, security and dreams for the family future, from scratch; all because of and due to the profound generosity of their non-negro hosts.

Yet these, very same, Many Liberians argue, will argue, vehemently, to death against granting, at the very least, real property rights and ownership, let alone Liberian citizenship, to these peoples, only and only, because they are NOT NEGROES and/or are not of Negro descent, during this 21st century worldview. Yes, these many Liberians are adamant in this type of discrimination based on race, by denying to non-negro individuals benefits and opportunities available in their country of origin (Liberia) that they, abundantly, enjoyed and continue to enjoy in the other’s (non-negro) countries. This behavior is not only morally detestable and unfair, but also a violation of the Gook Book (Bible) teaching to “do to others that which you would like for them to do to you”.

How H.E. President Weah’s Land Commissioner’s Dr. Othello Brandy Must Reduce High Costs of Unscrupulous Land Sales Against the Interest of Liberians: A Few suggestions

The reduction of the high costs of land across Liberia is another area that is adding hardship on Liberians. The unprecedented hike in the sale of land is unbearable. There is an urgent need for very strong austerity measures taken by H.E. President Weah to arrest such an ugly scenario. This situation is causing Malham among Liberians in Liberia. Land prices should be moderate so that it can be affordable by Liberians who have the desire of purchasing a piece of land for their future. H.E. President Weah's government could also erect low-cost housing facility for poor Liberians across Liberia.


The rationale is to reduce hardship on Liberians. The Government Land Commissioner Dr. Brandy should re-regular land tenures and land prices across Liberia. Let the Land Commissioner creates a condition that will make land purchases more and more affordable by Liberians. Land prices shouldn’t be left to landowners or foreigners to decide.

For example, land situated around the Robert Field High Way should be price tagged between $2,000LD to $3,000LD. Land situated around the Congo settlement should be sold between $500LD to LD800 dollar. Those in the leeward counties should be sold between $200LD and $300LD dollars to ease the land burden problems on Liberia across Liberia. Steps should be taken swiftly by H.E. President Weah’s administration to make Land accessible for purchase by all Liberians ill-respective of creed, status or condition in Liberia.

Lowering prices for rent/land tenures can also reduce hardship on Liberians. H.E. President Weah will need to take series of much stronger measures against Liberians and foreigners who are bent on hiking house rent and the sale of unscrupulous land in US dollars against the will and expectations of very poor Liberians.

First, all house rents should be paid in Liberian dollar and not in US dollar nor its equivalence. There should be a much stronger regulatory rent and land policies put in place by H.E. President Weah that will work towards abolishing the: “no rent pay in US dollar system across Liberia, but rent should rather be paid in exclusive LD.
Housing is one of the major areas of tremendous hardship in Liberia. H.E President Weah should curtail the proliferation of huge rent hikes on poor Liberians by foreigners who owned properties in Liberia and increased their rents straightly in US dollar. Other Liberians who are also in the Estate market business, shouldn’t be charging between $75 to $100 US for a one-bedroom apartment.

Other Liberians and foreigners charged the US $200 the for $300 dollars for a two-bedroom apartment with a tiny pouch with no conducive outside kitchen or bathroom. A whole house is being rented between $1,500 to $2,500 US a month, which is ridiculous. These self-imposed rent hikes activities are causing hardship on Liberians. Worst of it, some unscrupulous foreigners are heavily engaged in the Housing Estate Business. These foreigners hiked housing prices thus making life unlivable for Liberians in their own country.

For example, one-bedroom should be rented at a reasonable price of $1,500 LD; two-bedrooms should be $2,500LD, and a whole house of three-bedrooms should be $3,500LD. The idea of Liberians making compulsory deposits for two to three years advanced rents before they moved into a particular apartment/house. Such an advanced payment arrangement should be canceled by H.E. President Weah in order to make housing affordable to poor Liberians.

How Can President George Weah’s Government Balance Foreign Policy with Rival World Blocs- America and China?

 

If there's a single consistent aspect to President Donald Trump's strategic vision, it's this: United States of America (USA) foreign policy should always be governed by the simple principle of “America First, Make America Great Again,” with America’s vital interests placed above those of all others. “We will always put America's interests first,” Trump declared in his 2017 inaugural’s speech. The principle “America First” was persistently echoed during the American’s 2016 decisive presidential election which brought the Republican flag bearer to power.


While on the other hand, China's strategy for conducting its foreign relations is tailored to the specific circumstances of countries or regions with which it wishes to do business or ... a foreign policy that does not frighten neighboring nations or the world's great economic and military powers, most notably the United States and that of other global powers. Power shifts have brought into sharp focus the significance of the U.S.–China relationship in the early twenty-first century, both need each other.

The purpose of this instructive article is to provide, to some greater extend, specific useful diplomatic strategies how the CDC led-government can balance its foreign policy and international relations with the rival world blocs, the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China on one hand and European Union on the other-hand, and further looks deep into new other emerging diplomatic maneuvering across the globe.
But what diplomatic methodologies can President George Weah’s administration put into place to balance Liberian foreign policy and international relations with the two opposing world blocs- China and America? While at the same time to keep Weah’s regime on a positive standing with both countries without being consider as darling child of the other or play second fiddle to one of the rival blocs.

This is a crucial question, since sound strategy depends on an accurate assessment of the capabilities and intentions of the two potential rivals. Significantly the Weah’s government should play its cards very well, critically evaluate statements or speeches as relates Washington and Beijing to avoid diplomatic suicide (meaning disheartenment Liberia interest with China and the USA). Although at present, public statement should consider a balance with the two countries national interests, and not statements that would perhaps drag the Weah’s government into a state of strategically vulnerability.
Africa nowadays has become a continent of strategic importance for the two opposing world blocs –USA and China, for several reasons; many scholars and political pundits believed that the new U.S., China’s growing affection for Africa go with a deep interest to hunt for Africa’s riches, using several strategies and tactics to ensure and expand their influences.

The two opposing world blocs use tools of soft power in different ways to their benefits and with varying effects. Many experts argue that China‘s policies of non-interference and no political attached strings‘ have resonated so strongly among African countries which have become so wearied of those sanctimonious clichés about democracy, human rights, and good governance being proposed by the United States and its western partners, while the USA attached specific strings to aid .

Keeping a balance with Washington and Beijing will reinforce Liberia’s domestic policies and programs that fortify the bedrock of prosperity and stability will also enhance domestic control and its influence home and overcoming the primarily economic vulnerability that the government, state and people of Liberia are faced. President Weah needs to consider an official trip to Washington and Beijing to strengthen diplomatic ties with American and Chinese leaderships, Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping of the CDC led-government commitment to Liberia-USA and Liberia-China bilateral ties, since diplomacy today is an appropriate instrument to attract investments and businesses back home, and, simultaneously, prove to be politically and economically profitable to all governments, states and people.
Meritoriously, the Sino-Liberia and U.S. Liberia ties rapprochement will definite helped to create the unique conditions that led to the limited apprehensions but contributed and move the exiting relations to another levels of exceptionality.

Liberia’s balance ties with America and China perhaps most important, will be a great help strengthening the Weah’s regime domestic sources of national control in several vital areas especially human capital development, quality education, job creation, recognized health delivery system, pave roads, efficiency political system, research and development.

President Weah administration need to effectively exercise what I described as “diplomatic equilibrium” in its dealings with the two rival world blocs to avoid being seemed as weighting heavily towards one bloc. In this case, the government should move faster and put its diplomats to work, define China and USA interests and use the country’s bilateral ties to the advantage of the government.

The Weah’s regime should solemnly understand the new level of diplomatic maneuvering across the globe as relative Beijing and Washington. China views development and foreign aid as practical policy instruments to promote political friendship and economic cooperation, and only tied aid to one China policy while the U.S. attaches clearly stated goals, stringent conditions, and strict criteria including democracy, respect for rule of law, human rights, and good governance, to its development programs

But Beijing’s amazing aggregation of national power over the past 40 years has been a basis of wonderment among major state actors and non-state actors in the international system, as political experts are at a loss to expound the persistence of Communist Party rule despite its more open market order while economists have been astonished by China’s steadily high rate of progress while historians have describe China’s spectacular rise as unprecedented.
Nevertheless, there are other concerns especially the one coming from the United States of America regarding China’s emerging influence in the world especially its dealing with third world African states. But to the U.S. national security community, China’s rapid ascent up the global power ladder has been a source less of amazement than of cumulative unease.

During his recent inauguration, President Weah made known his administration foreign policy and domestic agenda constructively as he reached out to friendly countries and Liberia’s international partners especially to Washington, Beijing, European Union, ECOWAS, African Union, United Nations, World Bank International Monetary Fund and Arab League countries, among others.

President Weah need to keep to his commitment regarding Liberia-America bilateral ties as he stated in his esteemed speech which touched the relations between Liberia and the United States of America on one hand and Liberia-China productive and mutually rewarding relations.
Foreign policy takes into consideration emerging events across the globe since foreign policy formulations and implementation takes into consideration domestic policy of a state because politics deals not only with government or state but also several dynamics that occurring at other states levels.

While international relations is a strategies of self-interest adopted by a state to protect national interest and respect to its sovereignty including independence, regulation, power, authority, government with the much needed goal in international system. Let us not forget that foreign policy and domestic policy are both interconnected because foreign policy formulation is originated from the inner of state programs which determines government developmental priories based on budgetary appropriation.

Liberia’s Foreign Policy is firmly rooted in its political ideology of liberalism and democracy while the guiding principles of Liberia’s foreign policy has been the maintenance of national security and the preservation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country, the promotion of peace and harmony based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.

The fundamental thrust of Liberia’s foreign policy objective before the mid-1960s was predominantly the maintenance of national independence, due to threats posed by the former colonial powers to the Lone Star of freedom and Liberia’s support to independence movement in Africa. The foreign policy objective, during the colonialism was the independence of African states and a devotion to economic, social and political development across the continent.

In order to cement Liberia’s bilateral ties further higher with the current powers in Washington and Beijing, the Weah’s administration should attempted to build close cooperative relations with the two countries using diplomatic, thus keeping a vigorous communication channel with the two economics powers and the rest of the free world to the advantage of the CDC-led government pro-poor agenda, the interest of Liberia above other interests.

However, the diplomatic equilibrium can only be achieved if the rightful individuals assigned at Liberia’s embassies and diplomatic missions abroad are demanded to perform a national duties since the president or the foreign minister cannot be presence every were at once to project the nation’s images. Those currently in the field requires a strong background of a multidisciplinary perspective since diplomacy today is an appropriate instrument to attract investments and businesses back home, and, simultaneously, prove to be politically and economically profitable to Liberia.
Considerable literature has appeared in recent years speculating on future Sino-American cooperation, competition, or conflict. While there is no shortage of theories of international relations to inform conjecture on likely future scenarios, two in particular highlight the sharp contrasts in approach and perspectives that characterize this debate regarding Washington and Beijing.

These two perspectives promote very distinct U.S. approaches for dealing with the challenges posed by a rising China. Realists, who believe that states operate in an unsentimental and unforgiving environment, would advise current American President Donald trump to keep ample powder dry, to leverage existing and acquire new allies, and to occasionally accommodate when relevant U.S. interests are much less than those of China.

The current government domestically remained popular which the government should use to reinforce its foreign policy and international relations with the outside world especially Liberia’s development partners and friendly nations and governments. Accurately, Liberia would not have received the worldwide benevolence it got during the 12-year of former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration if not for apt diplomatic initiatives and had serious negotiations not taken place sometimes long hours to balance the country’s diplomatic dealing with Washington and Beijing.

The current administration primarily need to focus on economic diplomacy in the formulation of the CDC-led government foreign policy and the practice of international relations with Washington and Beijing on one hand and the West on the other hand especially Europe and Africa.
Those who are given the responsibility to project Liberia’s images in the international system especially countries accredited at the various embassies and diplomatic missions abroad must be sharp, cognizant of global prevailing dynamics political and diplomatic issues to drive the desire results back home, and not just sit and wait to be tele-guided (push and start). They need to understand that diplomacy goes far beyond sparkling red and white wines, champagne, ceremonial dinner and soliciting financial and other hand-outs for personal enrichment.

The noble profession which goes with greater demands is not an end but a means; not a purpose but a method. It seeks, by the use of reason, conciliation and the exchange of interests to prevent major conflicts arising between sovereign states and other civil organizations.
But nowadays diplomacy and international relations are wrapped up with domestic policy-making and political demands about governance across an extended spectrum of pressing national issues such as President George M. Weah's administration pro-poor agenda and jobs creation for the greater population.
In an advanced technically era, diplomats sometimes are merely the messengers of their governments rather than important advisers and policy makers, since technology has brought about a psychological warfare and propaganda that has become a powerful weapon to diplomacy and foreign policy.

For the purpose of efficiency and productivity, the Weah’s administration should institute decisive measures that the serious issue of diplomats negotiating which missions to be assigned should be halted; they should be posted to counties by those with the appointing powers, the president and the foreign minister.
This was one of the major weaknesses of the former Sirleaf’s regime. It was common for these so-called influential diplomats to lobby for posting to “prestigious” diplomatic missions in Europe, Asia, America and multilateral organizations, as greater numbers were not willing to be posted to African missions, especially the underdeveloped ones, while the stayed of a diplomat at one mission in most instances rendered the diplomat or Foreign Service officer inefficient.

Can this administration regularly rotate diplomats every four years, just as hundreds of states continue managed well. For example, nowadays most of the countries from Africa to America and Asia to Europe and South America to Meddle East regularly rotate diplomats; after four years at one diplomatic mission, the individual is brought home to render service at the foreign ministry while his successor move to replace the person; this strategic is intended to ensure effectiveness and not complacency.

While another concern is the existence of too many diplomatic missions abroad, which place a heavy financial burden on the scarce resources of this poor country Liberia, decisively, maintaining more contacts with non-African states. Studies have shown that Washington, Paris, London or Beijing wouldn’t post diplomats to countries of their choice or where diplomats do not have command over the language of the host state or uninformed diplomats to countries of strategic importance in a particular region or continent.

Considering Liberia’s current economic burden and scarce resources, President Weah need to establish a core group of financial, legal, foreign policy and diplomatic experts and political connoisseurs to review the past regime action to maintain existence of too many embassies and diplomatic missions in one region while the country has no embassy or diplomatic mission in other region or continents.

For instance, the existed several missions in the Middle East countries including Qatar, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, while Liberia has no diplomatic missions or embassy in South America, Central America, Australia, Scandinavia and Oceania regions.

At present, diplomats are engaged in an expanding range of functions, from negotiation, communication, consular, representation, and reporting to observation, merchandise trade and services promotion, cultural exchange, and public relations. Diplomats restrict their interactions and deal solely with other members of an exclusive club, comprised of governmental officials, fellow diplomats, and, occasionally, members of the business community.

A nation's diplomat required function as his or her country's eyes, ears, and voice abroad, must be aware of national interests and values while being able to understand foreign politics and cultures. At the same time, the skills required of professional diplomats include intelligence, tact, discretion, circumspection, patience, self-control, teamwork, adaptability, creative imagination, the ability to signal and communicate messages precisely to the target audience.
In certain cases, diplomats also give occasional speeches to members of the community of their host country. It is admirable profession of integrate, intelligent, honesty, political and edification elegance, free of corrupt and other unwholesome practices especially greed for financial gains. But, now new issues such as technical matters are coming to the forefront. Out of this sphere of unfolding developments and uncertainties a diplomat, in this modern era, should obtain the ‘requisite tools’ of education, skills, and a marketable reputation.

Evidently, diplomat presents his or her government’s policies to the foreign and domestic publics in a persuasive and persuading tone, not a demanding one, as such; a diplomat always represents the interest of the nation but at the same time cannot ignore the public opinion on national and international issues that go beyond defined borders.

Diplomat should be fully aware of work every day to be able to partner with local businesses and companies in host country to enhance economic growth back home in his country. That is why those tasked with economic activities at embassy must be sharp, cognizant of global prevailing wheeling and dealing; keep check of the financial movers and shakers, be well-schooled and knowledgeable of economic diplomacy which encourages greater cooperation and relations that protect investment and bilateral ties between two states or among companies.

Diplomacy serves states in three useful channels of communication including means of negotiating agreements between states, a source of information about what is happening in host states and representing the interest of the sending state.

But considering Liberia’s present poor economic situation, economic diplomacy should be given greater priority in our international relations with powerful states and government since economic diplomacy is now key factor in the development of contemporary international politics. It is clear that economic and commercial interests, particularly those related to investment, trade , exports, protection and assistance could be essential aspects of the diplomatic activities of a considerable number of countries.

Diplomacy today takes place among multiple sites of authority, power, and influence; at its essence is the conduct of relationships, using peaceful means, by and among international actors, at least one of whom is usually governmental. The typical international actors are states and the bulk of diplomacy involves relations between states directly, or between states, international organizations, and other international actors.

In the modern world, the issues of economic interests, trade, protection of nationals, and security have become much more difficult, with major challenges affecting the practices of diplomacy being influenced by major actors and powerful states, and some time the continued experiment of global, continental and regional groupings. Other factors such as bad political decisions in domestic politics, economic growth, and technological development, among others have greatly affected the international system.

At the same time, the skills required of professional diplomats include intelligence, tact, discretion, circumspection, patience, self-control, teamwork, adaptability, creative imagination, the ability to signal and communicate messages precisely to the target audience.
The Weah’s leadership foreign policy and international relations should base its interaction with states and international players on interest since international relations is the study of relations between political entities such as states, empires, international non-governmental organizations, among others.

The CDC led-government foreign policy and international relations, by all account, should be formulated solely for the national interests and its primary and obvious objectives should entails the maintenance of national security and the preservation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country, the promotion of peace and harmony based on the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, and respect for international orders. This will led to securing the much-needed strategic partnerships with international players in support of the Weah’s administration agenda.

The expectations of Weah’s leadership are sky-high among Liberians who believe are positives that the president will deliver on his promises of pro-poor agenda equality, rule of law, unity and better living standard for the poverty-stricken population.

About the Author: Josephus Moses Gbala-hinnih Gray is an Assistant Professor at the University of Liberia Graduate Studies Program. He is a native born Liberian, hails from the Southeastern village of Kayken Chiefdom in Barclayville, Grand Kru County. He is an author, professor, journalist, diplomat and scholar with a wealth of rich credentials. He has authored two books, published Two Graduate Studies Theses and a 600-page Doctoral Dissertation on the theme: “Geopolitics of African Oil and Energy: China and America New Strategic Interests in Africa”. He has written extensively and published over 50 articles on variety of contemporary issues. He can be contacted at Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
By: Prof. Josephus Moses Gray
Assistant Professor of International Relations
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

DECENTRALIZATION -BOLD, COURAGEOUS, PATRIOTIC  REASONABLE, PUBLIC POLICY OPTION: WILL PRESIDENT WEAH IMPLEMENT THIS OPTION?

Introduction
At the National Conference Vision 2024 convened/sponsored by the Liberian Government on The Future of Liberia and held at the Unity Conference Center, Virginia, Liberia, on July 19, 1998, a former official of government had the privilege/opportunity to be present as Presenter.


This former official of government, a Public Policy Advisor, is ethnic/tribal, Liberian citizen with social cultural, Traditional Society Egalitarian/Utilitarian beliefs and background.

Recalling the socio-economic and political indignities to which the overwhelming majority of the nation’s citizens had been, and are subjected, the former official of government presented the Paper, entitled “Decentralization” to the Conference.

The Paper re-visited/re-introduced the ideas of Decentralization of administrative, economic and political power for the election of public officials of the Provinces – the Counties – as a necessary, viable, socio-economic and political alternative option for the future of our nation.

The Paper, also, coined/introduced the prevailing reality of Liberia’s Presidents as imperial presidents; identified and outlined institutional reforms for re-structure and re-organization of government and its functions, designed to introduce and implement fundamental, comprehensive, socio-economic and political transformation, necessary to ensure modern, democratic practice and Local Governance, in the effort to facilitate, among many others, national reconciliation, healing, peace, unity and national security, after the brutal, civil war. There was, and had been, no response from the Taylor Government.

The President’s Pledge & Governance Commission
Then, in her first Inaugural Speech delivered on January 6, 2006, a little less than 8 years after the presentation of the Paper, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, as President of Liberia, demonstrated profound courage, foresight and encouragement for the future of our country by the declaration that “. . . I pledge to bring the government closer to the people. The days of the imperial presidency . . . are over in Liberia . . . The Executive Mansion and ‘Monrovia’ will, no longer, be the only center of power . . . The people and their interests, as defined by them, will be at the very heart of our new dispensation of decentralization and the devolution of power (Vol. 1 No. 1, Governance Commission Decentralization Bulletin, March 31, 2011)”. Indeed, these pledges of encouragement are, in fact, two of the major themes of the Paper on Decentralization.

It was, and is, also, a pleasing encouragement to note that the President followed the announcement with formation and establishment of the national Governance Commission as a think tank, so to speak, on Decentralization for Public Sector Reform. For, this action affirms decentralization as a compelling, social, economic and political need in our country at this point in time.

But, the administration of the provinces, or Counties, the national constituent, political sub-divisions and their sub-structures that, together, constitute the Republic of Liberia, are caught in vicious shackles of policy confusions and contradictions due to policy decisions made and dispensed by bureaucrats sitting in their Monrovia offices, creating more and more new sub-structures such as Town, Clan and Paramount Chiefdoms, townships, administrative and statutory districts, in addition to existing sub-structures created by ancient, Liberia Law governing Hinterland Liberia, without benefit of current, on-ground and in-county research information.

The results have been and are profoundly disappointing. In her Annual Message delivered on January 28, 2013, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf drew national attention to this, disabling condition when she observed that:

“. . . the challenges of the Decentralization Policy . . . the present local (the political, administrative subdivisions) governance structures are bloated, and difficult to manage. For example, there are more than 149 cities – 33 in Sinoe . . . 93 Administrative Districts; 251 Paramount Chiefs; more than 689 Clan Chiefs; 1,410 General Town Chiefs; and 250 Township Commissioners”, (indicating the creation of that number of townships). “Moreover”, the President continued, “the government has to deliver services to more than 16,000 TOWNS AND VILLAGES. As if these statistics were not daunting enough, the boundaries of all these localities overlap, leading to confusion over jurisdiction and administrative authority . . .”

The Unitary Structure of Government
The Unitary Structure of the Liberian Government became an oligarchy that dominated and continues to dominate national decision-making, mainly, to protect and preserve the interests of a very few, the emerged/emerging “political class” of indigenous, ethnic/tribal Liberian citizens and the traditional Americo-/Congo-Liberian citizens.

Consistent with this structure (Unitary) of government, political, economic and administrative power was vested solely-, highly- and rigidly-centralized in imperial presidents in faraway Executive Mansion, Monrovia, and enshrined in the nation’s constitution of 1847. This ancient log-jam placed on modern democratic process must be removed for the required, indeed demanded, Change.

Preamble, National Policy on Decentralization & Local Governance
The incoming Government of President Weah inherited, fortunately, the proclamation and establishment of the National Policy on Decentralization and Local Governance. The Policy Preamble to this National Policy provides that:

• “. . .Since 1847 and throughout the history of Liberia, governance and public administration have remained highly centralized in Monrovia and controlled mainly by institutions and structures of the central state which have not allowed adequate legal opportunities for the establishment of a system of participatory local governance”.
• “. . . The highly centralized system of governance has impeded popular participation and local initiative, especially in the provision of public goods and services, and has contributed to the need for greater accountability and transparency in the management of public affairs and led to the gap in economic growth and development, equal access to social and economic opportunities and human well-being between Monrovia and the rest of Liberia”.

• “. . . These conditions have slowed down (in fact, prevented) Liberia’s overall economic growth and development and democratization process, leading to underinvestment in human resources and human wellbeing throughout the Republic.”

• “. . . The Government of Liberia (therefore) realizes the need to ensure (and ensures, hereby) greater participation of the Liberian people in their own development process and for equitable distribution of the nation’s resources so as to ensure a more wholesome process of development and democratic governance.”

Thus, the national, public policy announcement states, agreed and admitted that, based on its (foregoing) analysis and conclusion, the most, major culprit for the socio-economic and political under-development, socio-economic and political paralysis and the resulting “failed state” condition of the Republic of Liberia is the prevailing Unitary Structure of the Liberian Government, utilized during these 170 years. It is, indeed, the major source of, almost, all of Liberia’s socio-economic and political ills.

But, we are told by the national, public policy theorists and advisors, the Governance Commission, that “Liberia shall remain a unitary state with a system of local government and administration which shall be decentralized with the county as the principal focus of the devolution of power and authority (Section 1.0, page 2, National Policy on Decentralization & Local Governance, January 2011)”.

This conclusion is, an apparent, complete and profound contradiction. For, decentralization-devolution of political power is not the same under the Federal structure of government as required by the preamble and, in fact, desired and demanded by the overwhelming majority of the Liberian People. We hasten to provide comparative, contrasting analysis below, showing the critical difference between the two, main, systems of government – Federal and Unitary.


Decentralization – Federal & Unitary Structures
Although both Federal and Unitary structures refer to or define “devolution” as decentralization of political power, but there are distinct, important legal differences and conditions, critical to successful democratic practice and results, particularly, in the light of Liberia’s turbulent past, for examples:

In the Federal structure, devolution-decentralization is guaranteed by written, constitutional provisions, with terms and conditions binding upon the central, federal government and its regional, semi-autonomous constituents;

Whereas, in the Unitary structure, devolution-decentralization is non-constitutional and that the central, unitary government reserves the right to alter, re-arrange or abolish the devolved-decentralized powers because, unlike federal system, the Unitary regional constituents lack constitutional right to exist, in the first place;

Therefore, it is compelling and, in fact, reasonable to implement change, with reforms, in the light of doing the same thing for a century with disastrous results. For, throughout 170 years, successive, Liberian, political leaderships and derivatives, held on to the unitary structure, while the nation becomes a “failed State”. But surprisingly, we are told by the Governance Commission that “Liberia shall remain a unitary state”, a complete, profound contradiction, as indicated earlier.

Not only because federalized devolution-decentralization of political power recognizes, supports and constitutionally-guarantees the right of citizens to vote in the election of their Superintendents, Mayors of cities, Paramount, Clan and Town Chiefs as expected, desired and demanded by the overwhelming majority of this nation’s citizens. But the Unitary system, now prevailing in Liberia is unconstitutional and continuation/retention of “business as usual”.

The Liberian voters in Fish Town, River Gee; Saniquellie, Nimba; Tubmanburg, Bomi and Bentol, Montserrado Counties do not need a rocket scientist to tell them that this unitary structure has been and is undemocratic!!

Therefore, it is our hope that the foregoing, graphic description of Liberia’s prevailing, political dynamics convey, will convey, clearly, the critical challenges facing this nation for political electoral Change.

The New Political Dispensation
President George Weah’s success, as President of the Republic, depends on complete, fundamental and comprehensive paradigm shift from the 12-year record of his predecessor ( only learn to benefit from her mistakes) to a progressive, liberal, pluralistic democratic politics –Decentralization - of administrative, economic and political power to ensure local democratic governance; that is, the election of all public officials of the provinces or Counties, superintendents, mayors of cities, paramount, clan, town chiefs, etc., consistent with Federal structure, the relatively, proven democratic success. But these political officials are, now, appointed by Monrovia.

Elsewhere, in a speech, we held that “In a representative democracy, the right to vote in the selection of important public officials is regarded not as a privilege, but an inalienable right that inheres to adult citizens by virtue of their citizenship. It is the primary means of ensuring that governments are responsive to the wishes of the governed”.

Change and Pro-poor Governance
It is widely-expected that President Weah, who campaigned as candidate on “Change and Pro-poor” Themes, will place emphasis on democratic elections of county public officials, with the Change/replacement of the Unitary structure with the time-tested, relatively, democratic Federal structure of government.

Finally, Structure influences behavior, according to Organization Theory. The structure of an organization influences the performance behavior of individuals in organization. Similarly, the structure of the Liberian Government influenced, influences the performance behavior of some 3000 plus, important functionaries of the Liberian Government into Corruption, Incorporated, the celebrated public dishonesty. Decentralization of the sweeping powers of the President is, will be hopeful reduction of this public dishonesty.

This, indeed, is the first order of democratic political business; all else will, and must, follow and fall, hopefully, smoothly, in expected, demanded place.

 

How President Weah’s Government Can Reduce Hardship in Liberia?

-----Let Lebanese and Foreign businesses create jobs for Liberians
The Lebanese factor: Lebanese and other entrepreneurs are having an enormous and most outstanding good time within the Liberian feeble business environment. The Lebanese and other petty foreign businesses in Liberia are potential contributing elements to the ongoing hardship being experienced by most Liberians with past governments paying deaf ears to a common business regulatory rudiment that should help get Liberian out of hardship.


Past governments’ officials failed to carry out simple Liberian business policy. That is because a huge array of government officials has either taken permanent residence in the wallets of the Lebanese business people or they are dinning and winning with them at the detriment of Liberian business policy in Liberia. As a result, government officials in Liberia have been virtually paralyzed and vulnerable to the business power of Lebanese cash tycoons who controlled the lifespan of Liberian politicians in Liberia.

For example, the Lebanese business people and other business partners will open several stores in Liberia and eventually bring along with them their brothers, sisters, nephews, cousins, loved ones, grandfathers, grandmothers, and friends from Lebanon to be employed in those stores. In other words, they erect these stores and employed their own people who will then take the profits of those stores back to Lebanon and other places, leaving thousands and thousands of Liberians stranded with no jobs as they get submerged slowly in hardships and poverty.

At some point, those businesses may hire just a single Liberian, the rest will be Lebanese imported directly from Lebanon and other places to be the benefactors of those stores to the detriment of native Liberians. This same method is applied to other smaller businesses that are manned by unpatriotic Nigerians, Fulani, Guineans, and Ghanaians in Liberia just to name a few. This form of business practices in Liberia by foreigners is creating hardships and social degradation for Liberians. These ugly business practices should be declared unacceptable under the Weah’s government.

Every Lebanese entity erected in Liberia should have only one Lebanese the rest of the employees should be Liberians. Each Lebanese story should contain four Liberian employees each. Every store should have an account officer who should be a Liberian. He/she should be mandated by the Weah’s government to abreast the government on how much a store generates in a month time including profits accrued. The rest of the sale representatives and procurement staff in each store should also be exclusively Liberians employees.

This type of business methodology should be enforced by businesses manned by foreigners across Liberia, and violators should be thrown in jail or be asked to leave Liberia, and by the same token, the government should keep running their businesses/stores for the benefit of Liberians. Investment of any kind in Liberia should benefit all Liberians and not the foreigner themselves. For instance, the ECO Bank in Liberia should provide employment to three (3) Nigerians only. The rest of the employees should be exclusively Liberian employees in all ranking sectors of the ECO Bank.

This approach should be reflected and enforced by all entities across Liberia. Nigerians and other foreign businesses in Liberia should practice this approach which in turn will create massive employment opportunities for Liberians to get out of hardship. Foreign missions such as diplomatic embassies accredited to Liberia, PVOs and NGOs should only employ Liberians and not foreigners. President Weah’s Commerce Minister should enforce this idea. It will help to minimize hardship among some Liberians in Liberia. This approach will create more and more jobs for Liberians. It will also enforce good living condition because massive jobs will be secured.

The Weah’s government should declare as a labor crime for any foreign businesses that will sideline Liberians and make job offers available to foreigners. In short, no foreigner should be employed in Liberia in both the private and public sectors for any reason. Such method will reduce hardship on Liberians. The Chinese factor is becoming a night mere in Liberia. The Chinese are heavily engaged in the sale of cold-water on our streets, marketing of charcoal, breaking firewood, mining sands and rocks are unacceptable, and the Weah’s government should halt such a practice.

The Chinese shouldn’t be a serious competing force to Liberian small businesses in Liberia. The Weah’s government should create an innovative working team that will engage ordinary Liberians to go in rock mining, charcoal, and firewood businesses for them to earn money to survive and gets the Chinses out of those petty Liberians businesses. The Weah’s government will need to move swiftly to protect small Liberian business interests. What other foreigners cannot do in China, Chinese shouldn’t do those things Liberia as well.

Ghanaians, Nigerians, Sierra Leoneans, and Guineans have taken over all the market spots in Monrovia. This form of free market enterprise system should be discouraged. Our market women shouldn't be competing with foreigners for market spaces, good, and services with foreigners. The Weah's government should ensure that our market women get the first-hand privilege and best of opportunities in their native land when it comes to the full protection of Liberian small businesses.

Liberia features in Oxfam sex scandal

The man at the centre of a sexual exploitation scandal at aid agency Oxfam was dismissed by another British NGO seven years earlier for similar misconduct, IRIN has found.


A former colleague reveals that Roland van Hauwermeiren was sent home from his job in Liberia in 2004 after her complaints prompted an investigation into sex parties there with young local women. Despite this, van Hauwermeiren was recruited by Oxfam in Chad less than two years later and went on to work for them in Haiti, and then in Bangladesh for Action contre la Faim.

The Swedish government’s aid department, alerted in 2008, also missed an opportunity to bring his behaviour to light and even went ahead that year to fund Oxfam’s Chad project, under his management, to the tune of almost $750,000.

Last week, The Times reported that van Hauwermeiren was ousted from Oxfam for sexual exploitation and abuse when he worked in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Oxfam’s deputy CEO, Penny Lawrence, has since resigned, and the charity has faced a deluge of criticism, both for the abuse itself and its handling of the staff member. It now faces an enquiry by the charity regulator.

Agencies in the humanitarian sector face serious challenges in tackling sexual exploitation and abuse, and some argue, at least today, that Oxfam’s safeguarding procedures are stronger than those of many other aid agencies.

Repeat offender
Seeing the Times article about van Hauwermeiren, Swedish civil servant and former aid worker Amira Malik Miller was shaken to read about the Haiti case, which pertained to alleged parties and orgies in 2011, seven years after her own experiences of him in Liberia. She couldn’t believe he was still active in the aid world, especially after she had blown the whistle on him and his colleagues, not once but twice.
“Oh my God, he’s been doing this for 14 years,” she remembers thinking. “He just goes around the system… from Liberia to Chad, to Haiti, to Bangladesh. Someone should have checked properly,” she told IRIN.

On two previous occasions, she thought she had done enough to stop his predatory behaviour.
Malik Miller told IRIN how her initial complaints way back in 2004 led to van Hauwermeiren being pushed out of his job as Liberia country director of UK charity Merlin, a medical group now merged with Save the Children. An internal investigation into sexual exploitation and misconduct led to his departure, several Merlin staff members confirmed.

Formal complaint
In 2004, Malik Miller was being briefed in London for a new job: assistant to the Liberia country director and reporting officer there for the medical group Merlin. She had been warned by a colleague that there might be some “dodgy” things going on; she says it was clear they were related to sexual behaviour.

Soon on the plane to the West African country, she was picked up at the airport personally by her new boss: van Hauwermeiren. Initially grateful for his hospitable gesture, her confidence quickly evaporated after he took a call during the drive and said to the person on the other end: “It’s a green light”. She told IRIN it was “really uncomfortable” as she “definitely felt that it was about me”.

Positioned in van Hauwermeiren’s Monrovia office as the most junior expatriate staff member, Malik Miller couldn’t help but notice unusual patterns in his workday. “He was away a lot,” she explained, often returning to work with fresh clothes or wet hair.
Assigned to stay in one of two guest houses rented by Merlin, she shared one nicknamed “London” with several colleagues, while van Hauwermeiren and a medical manager were in another called “Brussels”.

One weekend morning, two or three weeks into her assignment, Malik Miller found one of her housemates, the financial manager, joking with and fondling a young Liberian woman in the kitchen. The woman appeared young, she said. Immediately, she took him aside and explained she wasn’t going to tolerate sex work in the house.

“It can’t go on where I’m living,” she told him. On the Monday morning, she emailed a formal complaint to the Merlin head office in London.
From that point on, Malik Miller said it was “quite intimidating” – the four senior managers “constantly had their eye on me”. When Merlin’s human resources officer called to check up on her (which they did frequently), she pretended it was her mother or sister on the line and stepped away so she wouldn’t be overheard.

Insufficient proof
Within a fortnight, Merlin had sent a senior two-person team to Monrovia. In the course of their investigation, they spoke to other aid groups, Liberian employees of Merlin, and the expatriate staff and management.

One of Merlin’s investigating team, a former senior manager, confirmed Malik Miller’s account. He told IRIN he and his colleague rapidly reached their conclusion: the management team (“four middle-aged men”) were all engaged in paying for sex. They had been using Merlin cars to ferry women to and from the NGO’s two guest houses for paid sex and parties involving sex workers.

“It was obvious,” he explained. “So many people had seen them with a succession of young local girls.” He said it was impossible to say if some of the women were under 18. On being told the findings of the probe, van Hauwermeiren “denied everything” but nevertheless agreed to an immediate resignation.

The investigating manager said Merlin lacked sufficient proof to pursue a prosecution, and that the report from Malik Miller was the first he’d heard of the Monrovia misconduct. However, a third source, an aid worker familiar with the episode, countered this, saying the London head office had already been aware of the allegations.

Van Hauwermeiren and the rest of the Liberia management team were “shameless”, she told IRIN. “They acted like it was the most normal thing in the world.”

In the wake of the civil war, “the behaviour at that time in Monrovia was insane,” she recalled. “I think Merlin were a bit worse, but plenty of UN types [were] doing the same. Lots of sleazy bars, girls on the beach…”

“Tip of the iceberg”
Such behaviour may have been rife then in Liberia, but the former Merlin manager who conducted the 2004 investigation told IRIN that sexual exploitation in the aid sector remains an enormous problem to this day.

The latest revelations were just the “tip of the iceberg”, he said, calling for more to be done to professionalise the sector. He argued that the lack of a professional certification body means there is no central monitoring of individuals, while aid agencies are compromised by trying to protect their reputations.

He said it was “staggering” that van Hauwermeiren was able to find re-employment with Oxfam and that he felt “real regret” that his actions didn’t prevent Oxfam recruiting the Belgian. He claimed he couldn’t recall the names and further careers of the other three managers but said they had all been replaced and left Merlin.

Malik Miller, meanwhile, told IRIN she was partly satisfied with the response of the head office and believed her original complaint had at least been taken seriously. “I felt supported,” she said.

However, she was left thinking that the disciplinary action taken had been a bit weak. Van Hauwermeiren had been allowed to resign, while the housemate who had brought a sex worker to the guest house was told to apologise and allowed to stay on.

She started to doubt her own resolve, thinking: “Maybe it is OK… if we can’t prove that they’re under 18, hey ho…. maybe it's me overreacting.”
She recalled her deeper concern at the time being about this apparent “culture of complacency” that allowed men, ostensibly working for charitable causes, to conduct this behaviour more or less in the open.

In the sector, it’s “a system failure” and a “lack of responsibility to protect children and vulnerable women,” she said. The transactional sex was widely known by colleagues, male and female, who seemed to have accepted it as normal.

Second attempt
Four years later, Malik Miller was at her desk in the Swedish government’s aid department. A file landed on her desk: an application for funding from Oxfam in Chad. She opened it and was appalled to find van Hauwermeiren’s name listed as the country director.
Per Byman, then humanitarian director of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), confirmed to IRIN that he had been alerted in 2008 by Malik Miller to van Hauwermeiren's previous record at Merlin.

He told IRIN he had taken advice from SIDA's legal department on what to do about it, but couldn’t recall the outcome. He said he was "disgusted" at reading the recent news of van Hauwermeiren's behaviour.

SIDA’s website reports a grant of $748,537 to Oxfam for Chad in late 2008. Documents related to the grant include the following: “Oxfam will work with women in their communities to enable them to have recognised value in the family due to increased financial and social capital."
Asked by IRIN whether it knew of the Liberia case, Oxfam did not answer the question and provided a link to a previous statement. The Charity Commission of England and Wales told IRIN it had no records for Merlin in 2004, so it couldn’t comment on whether it was alerted to the case. Last year, the regulator asked charities to report any previously withheld cases of abuse.

Save the Children’s press office was unable to comment in detail before publication, but pointed out its takeover of Merlin was in 2013. IRIN was unable immediately to reach Geoff Prescott, who was chief executive of Merlin at the time of the 2004 allegations.

Looking back, Malik Miller said: "My experience of whistle-blowing has not been negative. I felt like I was listened to, and supported by colleagues, including senior managers. At least that side of the system worked. It's the follow-through that was lacking, and allows people like Roland [van Hauwermeiren] to continue to work in the sector."

Liberian former aid worker Jeanine Cooper told IRIN she was "shocked" to hear of the case and outraged to see how "these predators are recycled in a cozy system".

“[Back in 2004], the NGO scene was absolutely horrible; the UN too – impunity all around," said Cooper, who worked with the UN in several countries.

The aid worker familiar with the Merlin case, who asked to remain anonymous, told IRIN her perception of what is normal in the sector needed readjustment after the experience of working with van Hauwermeiren.

“My next field posting after Liberia was post- (2004 Indian Ocean) tsunami,” she said. “And I remember thinking, ‘oh, there are some old unattractive white men NOT having sex with prostitutes – weird’.

What Will Be The Impact of Liberian Foreign Relations Under President George Weah's Administration ?

The landscap of mordern diplomacy and international relations across the wold in terms of practice may have lost some of its image of exceptional ingredients, in the sense that it has to compete and interact with a much wider dynamic of the international system, conduct itself in a more time-sensitive manner, and be applied with a greater technical orientation and to a far greater extent than in the past.


But nowadays diplomacy and international relations are wrapped up with domestic policy-making and political demands about governance across an extended spectrum of pressing nnational issues such as President George M. Weah's admnistration pro-poor agenda and jobs creation for the greater population.

The practices have changed from the old practices to a contemporary system; beginning with the advancement of technology and education that makes it imperative to adapt to the many demands evolving from introduction an advanced hi-tech communications and continuing transformations of the international system.

The revolutionary changes in the nature of relations between sovereign states and even non-state actors have changed the responsibilities of today’s diplomacy which is basically that of mediation and communication of international issues between countries, international system and the public.

The development of instant communications and the advance of science and technology have increased the depth and scope of diplomacy in this contemporary world of civilization, especially with globalization and the emergence of new and powerful states on the world stage, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, conflict resolution, terrorism and bad governance.

The necessity for a well formulated dialogue in a modern world when relative certainties of a bipolar state system have given way to a disorderly, confused multi-polarity is witnessed by the distracted pace of contemporary diplomatic activities.

In the words of Richard Rosecrance, Adjunct Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, in the extended sense, diplomatic techniques have undergone considerable metamorphosis since the eighteenth century. In his book titled: The Rise of the Trading State”, Professor Rosecrance propounded that the extensive use of propaganda, subversion on a wide scale, and the manipulation of national economic instruments for foreign policy purposes have greatly enlarged the range of multilateral dealings on the world scene.

Former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine K. Albright in her esteemed publication: New American Diplomacy,(2000), pinpointed that Diplomacy is the art and practice of negotiation between nations, conducted mostly through private conversations and the exchange of confidential documents.

According to her, leading diplomats and ambassadors use public statements and news conferences to explain their policies, seek support for their governments, and put pressure on other countries in the negotiations of a specify situation.

A former American Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger in his thoughtful new book: New Order: Explained that practically, new actors on the international scene are increasingly using practices employed by states with the aim of furthering their interests in the international arena and putting new issues on the global agenda.

In the words of Warren Christopher, diplomat is a crisis manager and must possess: A good knowledge of international relations, a good understanding of how international relations function between states, should be well informed, smart, bridge and possess the ingredients of contemporary diplomatic know how and the aspirations in negotiating, great moral and intellectual sensitivity, imagination and courage, the ability to make parties feel convincing and grateful for successful negotiation.

For the former Senior Ambassador At Large of Liberia, Carlton Karpeh (2010) diplomat presents his or her government policies to the foreign country in a persuasive and persuading tone, not a demanding one, as such, a diplomat always represents the interest of the nation but at the same time cannot ignore the public opinion on national and international issues that go beyond defined borders.

In the words of former Liberian Minister of Foreign Affairs, T. Ernest Eastman (2006), “The field of international relations is so important that they called diplomacy the ‘master-institution’ of international politics which influenced domestic politics. While in international relations, Eastman (2006) said diplomacy functions through a labyrinth of foreign offices, embassies, consulates, and special missions all over the world.
In the much quoted definition of a renowned Liberian author and former diplomat, Dr. Joseph Saye Guanua, “diplomat as an honest Man sent abroad to lie for the good of his country.

While in his recent book: Liberian Emerging Democracy, Josephus Gray, (2013) reiterated that beyond representation, a diplomat is expected to possess a good knowledge and understanding of his own country; its geography, history and culture, its economy, political, social and its demographic structure, natural resources, its industry and the determinants of its foreign policy priorities.

According to a leading twentieth-century figure in the study of international politics, Hans Morgenthau, diplomacy will naturally decline with the onset of modern communication technologies such as the telephone, telegraph, cable and communication satellite. For example, following the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Washington and Moscow set up a teletype system that delivered printed copy from one capital to the other.

Meanwhile, the Post Johnson Sirleaf’s era presents a challenge for President George M. Weah’s administration to put its diplomats to work, as the government seeks international partners as the country emerges from an idle and desperate economic situation.

That is why those tasked with economic and political activities at the various embassies and diplomatic missions of Liberia must be sharp, cognizant of global prevailing dynamics political and diplomatic issues to drive the desire results back home, and not just sit and wait to be tele-guided.

The current administration primarily need to focus on economic diplomacy in the formulation of the CDC-led government foreign policy and the practice of international relations, indisputably, economic, trade and commercial diplomacy should be paramount in this era.

This requires a strong background of the diplomats from a multidisciplinary perspective since professional diplomacy is an appropriate instrument to perform this synthesis, to the extent that it can use its persuasive techniques in favor of businesses and investments and, simultaneously, prove to be politically and economically profitable to Liberia.

Liberia would not have received the worldwide benevolence it got during the former regime of Johnson Sirleaf, if not for apt diplomatic initiatives by the Foreign Ministry, and had serious negotiations not taken place sometimes long hours into the night, as perceptively as possible with grinding efforts, employing the tools of diplomacy for national advancement.

Diplomacy has brought development and prosperity to other sovereignty states for example as already enumerated and economic and trade values as seen in varied negotiations with bilateral and multilateral bodies, as the Liberian case illustrates, as well as increased economic and commercial activity.

But considering Liberia’s present poor economic situation, economic diplomacy should be given greater priority in our international relations since economic diplomacy is now key factor in the development of contemporary international politics. It is clear that economic and commercial interests, particularly those related to investment, trade , exports, protection and assistance could be essential aspects of the diplomatic activities of a considerable number of countries.

The noble profession which goes with greater demands is not an end but a means; not a purpose but a method. It seeks, by the use of reason, conciliation and the exchange of interests to prevent major conflicts arising between sovereign states and other civil organizations. Diplomacy goes far beyond sparkling red and white wines, champagne, ceremonial dinner and soliciting financial and other hand-outs for personal enrichment.

It is an activity which aims to promote the national interest of a country and also a technique for accommodating conflicting interest. But it could also be construed that apart from representing national interests the role of a diplomat includes the bringing about compromises to ensure a greater peace in an age when conflict has more dire consequences.

Diplomacy today takes place among multiple sites of authority, power, and influence; at its essence is the conduct of relationships, using peaceful means, by and among international actors, at least one of whom is usually governmental. The typical international actors are states and the bulk of diplomacy involves relations between states directly, or between states, international organizations, and other international actors.

Contemporary diplomacy in terms of practice is carry out through several processes such Shuttle diplomacy, Multilateral diplomacy, Public diplomacy, Economics diplomacy, Hi-Tech diplomacy, Conference diplomacy, Instant Media diplomacy and Resident diplomacy which is also called Track diplomac which is refers to as the standard form of diplomacy involving negotiations between officials of two or more.

According to a leading twentieth-century figure in the study of international politics, Hans Morgenthau, diplomacy will naturally decline with the onset of modern communication technologies such as the telephone, telegraph, cable and communication satellite.

Occasionally, telephone diplomacy some time experiences problem due to tech-glitch, on a largest scale hi-tech diplomacy is wildly used by world leaders to get a quick result (Gray, Josephus Moses, 2014), The Practices of Hi-Tech Diplomacy in an Advanced Technically World). Studies have shown that the Hi-Tech diplomacy is used mainly by world leaders and emissaries to by-passed their ambassadors to put their calls through directly to their counterparts or other high ranking officials of another states to discuss issues. This form of diplomacy, unlike the traditional one, is very effective, it gives instant results.

Also technology has rendered the difference in time, space and distance irrelevant and meaningless in contemporary diplomatic intercourse.
Besides, the almighty internet with its many sophisticated features including the e-mail segment cannot be denied center-stage in the community of diplomacy (US State Department report 2003). Another factor is multilateral diplomacy which also brought in its wake new forms of diplomatic activity like public debates, extensive committee work; parliamentary procedures that back in the home country are the provenance of politicians.

Intranet” systems allow, among other benefits, presents a comprehensive and effective communication between the Foreign Ministry and diplomatic missions in their country. “Instant media” have a significant role in this area, especially the “chats” and social media networks like Face book, Skype and Twitter, which are used both by the foreign ministries and diplomatic missions to disseminate and receive data.

These forms of diplomacy were very effective during the 2016 US Elections which Republicans’ J. Donald Trump won over his Democrats challenger, Hillary Clinton , although seventy-five percent of news on the Facebook and internet were fake, misleading or fabrication to the disadvantage of the other party.

Another effective form of diplomacy is Public diplomacy which has grown in the world and in the age of reality TV which is used to mobilize public support, to sustain momentum in negotiations, or to sabotage negotiations by leaking details of concessions contrary to individual preferences. This practice also include Conference diplomacy has its antecedents in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 4th century.

Other area of diplomacy, which has brought great development to other nations is eeconomic and trade diplomacy, as well as economic and commercial diplomacy. Nowadays, economic diplomacy and trade are now being given greater priority; these areas are now the key factors in the development of contemporary international politics.

In the contemporary world, the issues of economic interests, trade, protection of nationals, and security have become much more difficult, with major challenges affecting the practices of diplomacy being influenced by major actors and powerful states, and some time the continued experiment of global, continental and regional groupings. Other factors such as bad political decisions in domestic politics, economic growth, and technological development, among others have greatly affected the international system.

In an advanced technically era, diplomats sometimes are merely the messengers of their governments rather than important advisers and policy makers, since technology has brought about a psychological warfare and propaganda that has become a powerful weapon to diplomacy and foreign policy.

At present, diplomats are engaged in an expanding range of functions, from negotiation, communication, consular, representation, and reporting to observation, merchandise trade and services promotion, cultural exchange, and public relations. Diplomats restrict their interactions and deal solely with other members of an exclusive club, comprised of governmental officials, fellow diplomats, and, occasionally, members of the business community.

The practice of diplomacy in the contemporary world as relates the new world order and international relations, the ancient practice of diplomacy has under goes several transformations to the new effectual and dynamics ones, moving at a greater speech that requires one to precisely understand foreign politics, culture, trade and commerce, and the intellectual facility and linguistic agility to network and intelligently contribute meaningfully at major gathering where issues are brought forth and discussed.

In contemporary diplomacy, the issues of economic interests, trade, protection of nationals, and security have become much more difficult, with major challenges affecting the practices of diplomacy being influenced by major actors and powerful states, and some time the continued experiment of global, continental and regional groupings.

Furthermore, leader’s willingness to use the telephone has carried communication a step further. In the Persian Gulf crisis of 1991, former President George Bush, Sr., and former President Mikhail Gorbachev conducted an unprecedented 75 minutes telephone conversation including the time needed for translations.

Also in recent times the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu made a telephone call to the former UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon dissuading him not to go to Iran, former US secretary of State, Colin Powell conducted an unprecedented about 95 telephone calls under the rubric of diplomacy to his colleagues around the world while former Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan on one occasion took advantage of this modern system of tech-diplomacy. Occasionally, telephone diplomacy some time experiences problem due to tech-glitch.

According to reports, former Secretary Colin Powell by-passed his ambassador and put a call through directly to the Secretary General. Study shows that technology has rendered the difference in time, space and distance irrelevant and meaningless in contemporary diplomatic intercourse. And now the almighty internet with its many sophisticated features including the e-mail segment cannot be denied center-stage in the community of diplomacy.

In the middle Ages diplomacy was typically engaged in by kings and princes of neighboring states directly at summit level, the practice fell out of favor partly because of the inherent risk to the personal safety and security of the royals, and partly owing to the paucity of results. The ease and speed of international travel, combined with an explosion in the range of issues that diplomacy now covers, is responsible for a proliferation of diplomatic summits with a resulting convergence between foreign policy-makers and the practice of diplomacy.

A nation's diplomat required function as his or her country's eyes, ears, and voice abroad, must be aware of national interests and values while being able to understand foreign politics and cultures. At the same time, the skills required of professional diplomats include intelligence, tact, discretion, circumspection, patience, self-control, teamwork, adaptability, creative imagination, the ability to signal and communicate messages precisely to the target audience.

In certain cases, diplomats also give occasional speeches to members of the community of their host country. It is admirable profession of integrate, intelligent, honesty, political and edification elegance, free of corrupt and other unwholesome practices especially greed for financial gains. But, now new issues such as technical matters are coming to the forefront. Out of this sphere of unfolding developments and uncertainties a diplomat, in this modern era, should obtain the ‘requisite tools’ of education, skills, and a marketable reputation.

Evidently, diplomat presents his or her government’s policies to the foreign and domestic publics in a persuasive and persuading tone, not a demanding one, as such; a diplomat always represents the interest of the nation but at the same time cannot ignore the public opinion on national and international issues that go beyond defined borders.

Another factor responsible for the low productivity of African diplomacy is the serious issue of diplomats negotiating which missions to be assigned, instead of getting posted to counties by those with the appointing powers. It is common for these so-called influential diplomats to lobby for posting to prestigious diplomatic missions in Europe, Asia, America and multilateral organizations, as greater numbers are not willing to be posted to African missions, especially the underdeveloped ones.

The problem of concern is the existence of too many diplomatic missions abroad, which place a heavy financial burden on the scarce resources of these poor African Countries, decisively maintaining more contacts with non-African states. Studies have shown that Washington, Paris, London or Beijing wouldn’t post diplomats to countries of their choice or where diplomats do not have command over the language of the host state or uninformed diplomats to countries of strategic importance in a particular region or continent.

Diplomacy serves states in three useful channels of communication including means of negotiating agreements between states, a source of information about what is happening in host states and representing the interest of the sending state.

Diplomat should be fully aware of work every day to be able to partner with local businesses and companies in host country to enhance economic growth back home in his country. That is why those tasked with economic activities at embassy must be sharp, cognizant of global prevailing wheeling and dealing; keep check of the financial movers and shakers, be well-schooled and knowledgeable of economic diplomacy which encourages greater cooperation and relations that protect investment and bilateral ties between two states or among companies.
A nation's diplomat required function as his or her country's eyes, ears, and voice abroad, must be aware of national interests and values while being able to understand foreign politics and cultures.

At the same time, the skills required of professional diplomats include intelligence, tact, discretion, circumspection, patience, self-control, teamwork, adaptability, creative imagination, the ability to signal and communicate messages precisely to the target audience.
In certain cases, diplomats also give occasional speeches to members of the community of their host country. It is admirable profession of integrate, intelligent, honesty, political and edification elegance, free of corrupt and other unwholesome practices especially greed for financial gains.

But, now new issues such as technical matters are coming to the forefront. Out of this sphere of unfolding developments and uncertainties a diplomat, in this modern era, should obtain the ‘requisite tools’ of education, skills, and a marketable reputation. Watch out for part four.
By: Prof. Josephus Moses Gray
Assistant Professor of International Relations
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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