The United States Ambassador-Designate to Liberia has made a resolute pledge to address the rampant corruption and his vision to bolster economic growth in Liberia.
Nominee Mark Toner also highlighted the importance of these core objectives in further strengthening the already existing bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Liberia.
He made the commitment Thursday, October 19, 2023, when he appeared for his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington D.C.
Toner, if confirmed, will replace former Ambassador, Michael McCarthy, who left Liberia frustrated over the government’s failure to address the rampant corruption that has become deeply embedded within the Liberian political landscape.
This malice has further hindered the country’s progress, stifling economic growth, and undermining the trust between the government and the citizenry, despite being very vocal about ensuring the government remain transparent and accountable.
McCarthy, earlier this year, stated that he was frustrated that no action was taken against former government officials and political parties who were sanctioned by the US Treasury Department for their alleged role in corruption.
This, McCarthy added, “The Embassy is not okay with corruption, and we find it disappointing that political parties are nonchalant about the Global Magnitsky sanctions. The U.S. Department of the Treasury spends many hours and other significant resources to research and approve sanctions on individuals.”
But the U.S. Ambassador-Designate further emphasized the importance of ensuring that ordinary Liberians benefit from private-sector growth and accountable government, while maintaining Liberia’s position as the U.S.’ most steadfast partner in Africa.
Addressing Liberia’s tumultuous history, Toner also acknowledged the country’s resilience, exemplified by the peaceful transition of power in 2017, and the ongoing presidential elections campaign.
He made mention about the importance of ensuring that these elections are peaceful, free, and fair, as the U.S. and its partners work together to hold Liberian leaders accountable for their commitments.
This, Tuner noted, “The United States has been a significant donor to Liberia, with over US$5 billion in bilateral assistance since 2003. This aid has led to positive developments in various sectors, such as the economy, education, security, and public health. However, these gains have been offset by rising lawlessness and corruption within the current administration.”
Toner asserted that, if confirmed, he would lead the embassy’s efforts to combat corruption within the government and steer Liberia towards self-reliance, as well as ensure that ordinary Liberians reap the benefits of private-sector growth and accountable governance, preserving Liberia as a crucial partner for the United States in Africa.
The US Ambassador-Designate expressed his intention to promote investment opportunities for U.S. businesses and advocate for inclusive economic development, with a particular focus on job creation for Liberia’s youthful population, with a median age of 19 1/2 years, presenting an opportunity to harness their potential.
However, Toner emphasized that the responsibility for increasing transparency and addressing corruption ultimately lies with Liberia’s political leaders, and establishing the necessary conditions to attract responsible foreign investment is paramount, which includes addressing human rights issues, gender-based violence, forced child labor, human trafficking, and the legacy of war crimes.
Toner stressed the importance of confronting these issues to ensure a broader system of accountability, good governance, and the rule of law, and expressed his optimism about building upon the previous Ambassador’s excellent work and collaborating with the Liberian government and people to strengthen democracy and secure a more prosperous future for the next generation.