Wednesday, September 8, 2010

ELLEN ‘DID NOT SEND ME TO AMERICA TO SPY': Gabriel Williams on Barnes Recall

Written by Nat Nyuan Bayjay
Source: FrontPage Africa

Gabriel Williams, the Minister Counselor for Press and Public Affairs at the Liberian Mission in Washington, D.C. has rejected suggestions that he was sent to the U.S. to keep an eye on recently-recalled Ambassador Nathaniel Barnes.
Williams, in a letter of clarification to FrontPageAfrica Wednesday said his mandate from President Sirleaf to take up the post in Washington is to revitalize Liberia’s public diplomacy so as to positively project Liberia’s image to the outside world. “My responsibility includes engaging Liberians in the Diaspora and Americans by creating public awareness about the encouraging progress Liberia is making, as well as the challenges facing our post-war country.”

Immediately following his recall, several names of the President’s close confidantes stationed in the United States surfaced regarding who possibly hinted her about Ambassador Barnes’ alleged political rally activities which were said to be tied in with the President’s decision that led to Barnes’ end of mission in the Federal capital of the world’s most powerful nation.

One of such names who may have recommended his recall was Williams, the recently-appointed press attaché’ at the Liberian Embassy in Washington, who reports surfaced that it was him who spilled the beans on Barnes’ political plate in the Diaspora.

Some speculations suggested that Barnes was using his position to galvanize support for another run for the presidency in 2011. Other stories suggested that the Ambassador had sought the help of Cynthia Nash, Liberia’s Diplomatic Consul to Atlanta in raising money for his potential run for the presidency.

The recalled Ambassador Barnes, in a recent FPA interview, said: “On the issue that Gabriel Williams has been involved, I don’t believe an iota of it. It is not true. In the very short time there that I have worked with Gabriel Williams, I have found him to be very professional, a very, very good human being. Therefore, he wouldn’t want to do a thing like that because he wouldn’t have any negative to report my job. I don’t believe it”.

Another name who reportedly emailed the President suggesting the Ambassador’s recall was Nash, Liberia’s Honorary Consul General and Consulate for the State of Georgia.

Nash who was appointed by President Sirleaf in March, 2009, was interestingly commissioned by Ambassador Barnes on August 31, 2009.

Responding to Nash’s possible input that led to his recall, Ambassador Barnes told FPA: “For Cynthia Nash, she’s a good friend of President Sirleaf. Trust me, I’m not stupid. If I had that sort of motive, she would be the very last person that I would disclose it to.”

Moved by the article, Williams wasted no time in clearing his name, stating that President Sirleaf did not appoint him to spy on other people or destroy their future.

Williams: “Accordingly, I wish to make it absolutely clear that President Sirleaf did not send me to Washington to spy on other people or destroy their future. As the Minister Counselor for Press and Public Affairs, my mandate from Madam President is to revitalize Liberia’s public diplomacy so as to positively project Liberia’s image to the outside world. My responsibility includes engaging Liberians in the Diaspora and Americans by creating public awareness about the encouraging progress Liberia is making, as well as the challenges facing our post-war country.

In a letter to FPA, he writes: “My attention has been drawn to the Tuesday, September 7, 2010 edition of the FrontPageAfrica publication headlined, ‘NOT STUPID’: Recalled Ambassador to U.S., Barnes on 2011; Recall Rumors. In the article, it is reported that there are rumors that I, Gabriel Williams, recommended to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf the recent recall of His Excellency M. Nathaniel Barnes, then Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States”.

But it was the favorable Ambassador Barnes’ response to Williams’ alleged implication that made the former Deputy Information Minister more comfortable in describing the working relationship between him and the Ambassador, as he pens: ““To the extent that Ambassador Barnes has seriously refuted the allegation against me should indicate to any reasonable person that he is convinced that I had absolutely no role to play in his recall, and, more importantly, he and I had an excellent working relationship for the short period following my assignment as the newest diplomat at the Liberian Embassy near Washington, D.C”.

The former Deputy Information Minister expressed delight and pleasure for a better working relationship with Ambassador Barnes, adding, “And it is my honor and privilege to serve in the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf”.

In line with Williams’ mandate, a proposal has been submitted for the reactivation of the Liberian Information Center, the Public Diplomacy Section of the Liberian Embassy. The Liberian Information Center, which is equivalent to what used to be the United States Information Service (USIS) in Monrovia, was closed during the civil crisis. According to Williams, the reopening of the Liberian Information Center would boost the country’s efforts in projecting Liberia’s image to the outside world.

Explaining that he has been too occupied with the mandate of disseminating information through media outlets in the Diaspora and in Liberia, in addition to a series of town-hall meetings in various parts of the U.S. to explain the policies and programs of the Liberian Government, and to get some feedbacks from the people concerned, the Minister Counselor for Press and Public Affairs said: “One of the challenges facing our government is the inability to provide adequate information to Liberians in the Diaspora, as well as others in the international community who want to know about Liberia, due to financial and other constraints. Since my arrival in Washington, my focus has been how to make public information dissemination more effective despite the constraints, rather than seeking the downfall of other people that I work with”.

A Builder, Not A Destroyer

Flipping pages of his past activities to his current status, Williams said he has always been a builder rather than a destroyer.

He said: “Records of my activities over the years would clearly show that I have always been a builder rather than a destroyer. Throughout my career - beginning as a cub reporter with the Daily Observer when I was a teenager, to leading The Inquirer newspaper and the Press Union of Liberia during the early years of the civil war, to recently serving as Deputy Information Minister in this government, I have never done anything to undermine the public interest, including seeking to destroy others, for self aggrandizement.

I never took advantage of my position in government to steal public resources, while our President is struggling to pull our country and people from abject poverty. I have never used my government position to suppress freedom of speech and of the press, or proved to be an incapable custodian of the public trust.”

While Barnes’ political future still remains uncertain as he also faces unanswered questions about his legacy as Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) relative to answers to the concerns of an unreleased audit report on the mission, Williams has cleared his side of the rumors, leaving many to wonder now who may have telephoned the President on any purported galvanizing support on the part of Ambassador Barnes to challenge her during the crucial run for the presidency in 2011.

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Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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