US Embassy Curtails Operation in Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

January 8, 2003

According to news reports, the United States Embassy in Monrovia is curtailing operation in that West African country. The Embassy will stop issuing visas to Liberians wishing to travel to the United States. The action by the US government was prompted by Mr. Taylor efforts to stage a demonstration against United States policy.

Ironically, this same regime which is now planning the anti-America demonstration recently arrested Aloysius Toe for planning a peaceful march in solidarity with jailed Hassan Bility and Sheikh K.M. Sackor et al.

Besides, the Liberian government on Tuesday warned foreign diplomats to not "interfere in the internal affairs of the host state." The Taylor regime threatened to take some unstated measures against diplomats who do not pay heed to the warning.

Prior to the Liberian government’s warning, the US embassy in Monrovia issued a press release in which it stated that America would not recognize the results of any elections held through “fraudulent” means. In the press release, U.S. Ambassador John Blaney wrote:

“The United States is concerned that preparations for the 2003 elections are inadequate and that necessary conditions do not yet exist to permit free and fair elections. For example, the United States and others have repeatedly encouraged the Government of Liberia to get help on election preparations from the United Nations well beyond requests for security-related assistance. The United Nations has excellent capabilities and long experience through its Electoral Assistance Unit and elsewhere that could play a key role in strengthening the upcoming elections across-the-board. A UN assessment team should be requested urgently.

“Harassment of opposition party representatives and opposition party activities as well as the prospect of severely limiting candidates who may run for the presidency are just some of the other worrisome developments.

“Let me say plainly that the United States wants to see a free and fair election and will not support nor recognize the results of any fraudulent one.”

According to the associated Press, “ The move comes amid a dispute between Taylor administration and U.S. Ambassador John William Blaney over Taylor's plans for presidential elections later this year.

“Taylor has insisted that under the constitution only candidates who have lived in the country 10 years are eligible to run for the presidency. Taylor's leading opponents are in exile, and the ban would leave only weak, local politicians to compete against Taylor.”

It can be recalled that few years ago, the Chairman of Taylor’s party (Cyril Allen) threatened to arrest Bismack Myrick (then US Ambassador to Liberia) for interfering in the internal affairs of Liberia.

Most of those who would be affected by the US Embassy’s action are Liberians trying to leave the country for the US for further studies and those wishing to reunite with their families in the US. Liberian government officials wishing to travel to the US will surely find way around this as they have successfully done in the past, despite UN and US imposed travel bans.

Jenkins Dunbar
In October, for example, Liberia’s Lands and Mines Minister Jenkins Dunbar was able to travel to South Africa despite UN travel ban on Liberian officials. Though Mr. Dunbar went to South Africa to sell diamonds he carried in his brief case, he used the Kimberly Process (Diamonds Certification Process meeting) as a front to receive a waiver for his travel.

And recently, Freddie R. Taylor, a relative and close confidant of President Taylor who is head of the National Security Agency, the agency responsible for most of the human rights abuses in the country, was recently in North Carolina. We hope the United States will use the current situation to stiffen the travel ban against officials and other functionaries of the Liberian dictatorship.

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