By Julius T. Jaesen II
On Friday, January 22, 2021, two days after the historic inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice President of the United States of America respectively, Michael A. McCarthy, Ambassador of the United States of America, presented his letters of credence to H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia.
What is a letter of credence? Did the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the watch of H.E. Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah mislead President Weah to receive Amb McCarthy’s letters of credence with the erstwhile President Donald Trump’s signature while Joe Biden sits in the Whitehouse?
Kindly bear with me as I attempt to unravel the complicated diplomatic back steps and political danger the Ambassador’s presentation on January 22 means to Liberia and the new US administration. But sadly embarrassing, Min. Kemayah cares not at all about the political ramifications of his decision. That is why we long ago tongue lashed President Weah over the appointment of a rookie like Kemayah as Liberia’s Foreign Minister and Dean of his cabinet. Remember historically, the Democrat administration is mostly circumspect of its relations with Liberia.
The Republican party, on the other hand, is kind and supportive to Liberia. It can be recalled, Republican President Bush pressured Charles Taylor to step down and leave Liberia during our crises in 2003 and accepted to cancel all Liberia’s bilateral debts with the US when President Johnson-Sirleaf called on him.
Back to the main course, a letter(s) of credence is a formal diplomatic letter that appoints a diplomat as an ambassador to another sovereign state. It is addressed from a head of state to another, asking them to give credence to whatever the ambassadors may say on their country’s behalf. Letter(s) of credence is personally presented to by the ambassador to the receiving head of state in a formal ceremony commonly called “presentation ceremony”.
Depending on the schedule of heads of states or the arrival period of an ambassador in a country, it may even take up to a month or more before presenting his letters of credence to the head of state – that is why in most jurisdiction, ambassadors are given full recognition by the host country after presenting a copy of their credentials to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
When did Ambassador McCarthy arrive in Liberia? Was it possible he presented before January 20, 2021or the very least, the morning hours of January 20, 2021? The US is a very important partner and a traditional ally of Liberia. However, back door diplomatic manoeuvring could have prevented this massive blunder on the part of Foreign Minister Kemayah. Diplomacy is an art of tactfulness, correctness, and prudence.
Toward the end of her regime, former President Sirleaf appointed five ambassadors to Ghana, South Africa, Egypt, Germany and Kuwait. Coincidentally, they all could not present their letters of credence to the respective heads of states in time before our then newly elected President, H.E. Dr. George Mannah Weah’s swearing-in ceremony. All five countries in line with established diplomatic standards advised our ambassadors designate to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Liberia for the facilitation of a new credential bearing the signature of President Weah. This was done! There is no circumventing! So, what didn’t Kemayah do same but rather chose to create a floodgate in our diplomatic system? This was just a test of our system on the part of the new US Ambassador. Sadly, he succeeded under a moron of a Foreign Minister.
Parrot’s diplomatic correspondent gathered that the US Embassy near Monrovia suggested January 22, 2021, for the presentation ceremony. However, it was initially rejected by the Protocol Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but Minister Kemayah always arrogant and authoritarian, overruled the decision of the Protocol Department and as well ignored the advice of all his deputies that he initially agreed to.
“This could be an intentional calculation of the US Embassy to test the resolve, ability and diligence of the Weah’s administration”, a former Foreign Service officer asserts. “C. Cecil Dennis (may his humble soul rest in peace) would never allow this, as he was a consummate diplomat and revered statesman. Minister Kemayah is a lucky man to stay be in his post”, he added.
On the political side of this saga, the Foreign Ministry has dumped the President in what could only be termed as a ‘political quagmire’ between father and child (America and Liberia). At the end of a tense presidential and congressional elections in America, it is only wise to act cautiously with these delicate matters. In theory, Ambassador McCarthy does not have the approbation of President Biden but rather former President Trump – a deep political fry Liberia is toying with. This is not a game of the strong, it is a simple diplomatic practice that was outrightly ruined by inexperienced Kemayah carrying a very huge task on his shoulder.
Amid all the controversies that attended the just-ended US elections with Trump claiming that he won the election but there was vote rig, Kemayah’s action to mislead President Weah into this big diplomatic blunder presented a case that our government didn’t technically recognise the Biden-Harris administration.
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