According to the US Embassy in Monrovia, congressman Chris Smith does not speak for the Biden Administration. Be that as it may, be, he is a high-level member of the US Government. So his opinion matters. Furthermore, the Embassy did not dismiss any of the issues raised by the Congressman. Mr. Chris Smith is neither a Democrat trying to show that the Biden Administration was embarking on a new fight against autocracy nor is he a freshman legislator in search of publicity. He has worked in Liberia and he is a ranking member of an important legislative committee. He was instrumental in getting Charles Taylor where he is today.
What all this means, given the dependency that characterizes US-Liberia relationships, President Weah must take these words seriously. It's rare that the leader of a sovereign nation is openly accused of theft. Since Mobutu of Zaire, I don't recall any other African leader labeled as a kleptocrat. A "dictator " can claim to have a political agenda of some sort but a kleptomaniac is just a petty thief, no matter the amount stolen. A kleptomaniac is a person of low self-esteem and narcissism, giving in to basic instincts. At best, a kleptomaniac needs treatment.
President George Weah must defend himself and clear this name. If sanctions are imposed on him, it will cause him great pain. But the pains on the nation are far greater and irreparable.
There is nothing more difficult than removing sanctions once imposed.
The greatest pain snd shame however will be on Liberia as a nation. Any form of US sanctions of Weah will paralyze Liberia. This is why it's important for Weah to address this issue. What Congressman Smith said is based on information provided by third parties. President can ask to see the instruments and respond.
President Weah did not make things easy for himself. In politics, perception is stronger than reality. Once he took over as President, Mr. Weah exhibited signs of extreme new wealth. Public money disappeared without accountability. Infrastructure projects were undertaken without preparation. All of these issues raised red flags.
Unfortunately, watchdog institutions have all but accepted a certain status quo of mediocrity. Institutions of integrity all but vanished and other branches of government but faded into oblivion.
President Weah should have expected to be closely watched, for no other reason than his political body is a mixture of elements of Samuel Doe dictatorship and Charles Taylor's criminal enterprise administrations. These two regimes plunged the country into chaos. They came through force and were removed by force. Naively, some expected that these Doe and Taylor people who had gained and lost power through violence will bring much-needed wisdom, having learned their lessons. However, it seems that while enabling political neophyte Weah to indulge himself, they picked up where they left off years ago.
Congressman Chris Smith may have helped President Weah by warning him now and sounding the alarm. Rather than belittling the warning, President Weah handlers should take a step back and recalibrate. If they can. Liberians do not deserve more hardships for sanctions caused by a few misguided individuals. This is a national shame and only Weah can respond. Because when the sanctions pop up, the effects could be overbearing for a country already hardly surviving.
If President Weah and his team cannot prove Congressman Smith wrong, the nation should brace itself for another storm.