Africa: A Challenge for the Incoming Joe Biden Administration

Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the 2020 Iowa State Education Association (ISEA) Legislative Conference at the Sheraton West Des Moines Hotel in West Des Moines, Iowa.

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The American people have spoken. They have elected Joe Biden as the next President of the United States of America. Biden's victory at the polls became clear after a nerve-wracking cliff-hanger vote count that saw Biden gradually narrowing Trump's lead and eventually overtaking him to win the vote count in a decisive clincher

Joe Biden's victory has been welcomed by world leaders as well as the plurality of the American people. In many respects, his victory signals a shift from divisive far right policies to at least a left of center shift that seeks to protect social gains achieved under President Obama.

Many world leaders have expressed optimism that the unilateralism of US foreign policy under President Trump will change to one of constructive engagement and mutual respect rather than the abrasive rough-edged, "America First" posture which has been a hallmark of US foreign policy initiatives under Trump.

For us in this "sh*thole" country called Liberia, known to "catch a cold every time America sneezes", the victory of Joe Biden over Donald Trump, as promising as it looks, could be deceptive.

A cursory review of the history of the relationship between both nations, it can be discerned that it was under a Democrat-led administration that President Tolbert's was removed from office through covert means.

It was also under a Democrat led administration that concerted attempts to discredit and trash the TRC Report were made by officials of that administration.

It was yet under a Democrat led administration that the US government took charge of the restructuring and retraining of the AFL and state security forces under the Security Sector Reform (SSR) program, which has proved to be a dismal failure, and whose results leave much to be desired.

Under a Republican-led administration, about one-billion US dollars was given as assistance to the Doe government

It was under a Republican administration that Secretary of State Schultz declared that the 1985 elections were free and fair by African standards when it was an open secret that the results were stolen by President Samuel Doe and that the actual winner was Jackson Fiah Doe.

However, it was under a Republican led administration that Charles Taylor was indicted for war crimes and removed from power. Nonetheless, it must be noted that both administrations, Republican and Democrat have in Liberia's troubled past, repeatedly declared that the US have no strategic interests in Liberia.

This was evidenced in 1990 when a flotilla of US ships and troops anchored off-shore in Liberian waters and idled while the nation burned although it was within their means and capacity to stop it. Without saying it, Liberia's search for peace and security has tended to depend heavily on US diplomatic and financial support.

And the peace it has received has been fashioned largely along lines considered acceptable and non-threatening to US interests, real or perceived. For example, ten (10) years after the submission of the TRC report to the government of Liberia, the report had until recently remained virtually in the doldrums with no significant official US government support for implementation of the recommendations contained in that report.

This situation obtains irrespective of the fact that five US citizens were killed in cold blood by individuals whose identities are known to US officials but who continue to enjoy impunity for their actions. The Liberian people have long wondered just why this anomaly continues to persist, given the fact the US has a history of going after those who murder its citizens.

Nothing, it seems, can explain such an anomalous situation and questions are being asked whether this incoming administration will make any difference in terms of assisting the drive for accountability.

All things considered, Liberia remains perhaps the only country in Africa that has blood ties with the United States of America.

In the view of past Liberian leaderships, the relationship between Liberia and the US was a special one. Generations of Liberians were brought up to believe that the US was Liberia's natural and most trusted ally, characterized by a special relationship.

In retrospect that special relationship often has been one in which successive US administrations have supported fascist and corrupt dictatorships against the people. And the people's hatred of such dictatorships often tend to fuel popular resentment against the US.

In just about 30 days from now the December 8 elections will be up. At this stage, no one knows for sure whether the elections will actually be held, given apprehensions that the clean-up of the Voters' Roll/Registry may not have been concluded before that date.

And should the elections not be held, it will throw a lot of uncertainty into the process and raise questions about the legitimacy of the entire government itself. This is where the influence of the incoming new Biden administration will prove crucial.

The US government should not wait for the outbreak of trouble and confusion before it can react. It needs to state where it is on troubling developments in the ongoing electoral process such as the purchase of voting materials outside the requirements of the Law, the attempt to foist upon the people a highly compromised VR and, last but not least, the refusal of the Supreme Court to stand by its own decision and mandate to have NEC clean-up the Voters Roll.

By becoming seized of the situation, and encouraging the government to do the right thing, the new Democrat-led administration can help avert trouble, chaos and confusion in the land and ultimately prevent Liberia from relapsing into renewed bloody civil conflict.

This is the challenge to the incoming Joe Biden administration. Congratulations President-elect Joe Biden. Liberia, the world awaits your leadership.

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