President George Manneh Weah last week Thursday, 15 September took a decision that shocked the entire country, particularly Liberia’s diplomatic missions abroad with the recall of Ambassador George W. Pattern from Washington, D.C., the United States – Liberia’s traditional partner.
President Weah took the decision just as he was headed to the United Nations General Assembly to address the 77th Session of that body. But critics say the President’s action left serious stress on staff at the country’s diplomatic mission in Washington, though he immediately nominated another ambassador to the Mission.
It is the timing of the action that has attracted public concern, which coincides with the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York and his presence there along with a high-level delegation when staff at the Liberian Mission are expected to be on their heels, busy moving back and forth to ensure the President’s visit to the United States is well executed as planned without problem that has been greeted with the abrupt recall of Ambassador Pattern, who was posted to Washington, DC, since Mr. Weah’s ascendency to the Presidency in 2018.
President Weah has nominated Mr. Jeff Gongoer Dowana as Liberia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States of America with concurrent Non-Resident Accreditation to Canada and Mexico, the Executive Mansion in Monrovia says.
Ambassador Dowana is said to be a career diplomat who previously served at several postings, in London, New York, Washington, DC, Paris, and his current assignment as Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary to Kuwait.
However, the President’s action taken in Washington, D.C. comes at a time diplomatic engagements between the Government of Liberia and the Government of America are stormy with the recent designation of three officials of the Weah administration by the U.S Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) under the Global Magnitsky Act for significant ongoing public corruption.
It seems that Ambassador Pattern did very little, if anything at all, as is expected of an ambassador posted in such strategic country as the United States in forewarning President Weah about the sanctions that came like a tsunami on the government, taking the President totally off balance and striking three of his key officials.
Besides, speculations abound in Monrovia that more officials of the government are to be designated amid ongoing effort and lobby by the administration to improve relations with the United States and get the ears of President Joe Biden that President Weah desperately desires.
The entire country is unease with words of war between the government and the opposition over governance lapses and massive corruption, especially as Liberians gear up for elections next year in which President Weah is seeking a second term.
Then President Weah’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dee Maxwell Kemayah, currently traveling with the President to the United States, carries a restricted visa that reportedly bars him from entering New York, for alleged sexual harassment. He has since denied the allegation. But Minister Kemayah had been previously posted to New York as Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations where the alleged act was committed against a female staff at the Liberian Mission.
It is not clear whether President Weah would remove Foreign Minister Kemayah from his government in addition to Ambassador George Pattern, but analysts say it presents a unique opportunity and possibility to, once and for all, clean the face of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that engages with governments across the world on behalf of the Government of Liberia.