The Liberian Community of Washington DC Reacts to MICAT Press Release
July 18, 2001
Editor's Note: Liberia's Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs, Tourism (MICAT) recently issued a press release in which the ministry said that the Chairman of the Liberian Community Association of the Washington, DC, area stated in an interview during his visit to Liberia that the dissident forces fighting the Liberia government in Lofa county were being bankrolled by Liberians in the United States. Though many Liberians question the credibility of the press release from the Information Ministry signed by Jeff Mutada, it has generated some concerns. Raymond E. Ben-Davis, to whom the comments were attributed, is said to have denied making such statements. It is reported that he has also denied meeting with Reginald Goodridge, Liberia's Minister of Information, as alleged in the press release. Reacting to the Ministry of Information press release, the Liberian Community Association of Washington DC issued the following statement on July 13, 2001:
The executive committee of the Liberian Community Association of the Washington Metropolitan Area (LCA) unequivocally condemns and disassociates itself from comments made to the NEW LIBERIAN attributed to LCA Secretary General Mr. R.E. Ben-Davies who they wrongly referred to as "Chairman" of the Liberian Community in Washington DC, as reported in a Ministry of Information (MICAT) press release issued July 10, 2001. We regard the reported comments of Mr. Ben-Davies as reckless, misleading and counterproductive to the genuine interests and integrity of Liberians in the Washington DC area and the US as a whole.
In addition to the glaring misrepresentation of the LCA and impersonation of its chief executive officer, the MICAT release narrated a series of details reportedly offered by Mr. Ben-Davies related to the activities of the dissident LURD and its ongoing adventurism in northern Liberia. We wish to reaffirm that the LCA leadership is indeed disturbed by the reckless conduct and poor governing practices of the Liberian government which we see as a blatant betrayal and abuse of the confidence reposed in its leadership. Notwithstanding, the LCA and its affiliates within the umbrella of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) has maintained an unequivocal abhorrence to continuing warfare and violence in Liberia as perpetrated by LURD. Hence, the leadership of the Liberian community in Washington, in the best interest of Liberia, have remained distant from the architects of LURD and its activities at home and abroad.
It is the firm opinion of the LCA leadership that the unsolicited misrepresentations contained in the MICAT release reveals a dubious collaboration of dangerous connotations. The trend of the release, signed by Assistant Minister Jeff Mutada, exposes a degrading level of unethical journalism in practice at the Ministry of Information which holds no regard for the principles of verification of sources and balanced reporting.
It must be registered that Liberians in the Washington, DC area and the US as whole are deeply disturbed by the evidently unsolicited and unofficial commentary by Mr. Ben Davies to the NEW LIBERIAN newspaper as reported in the MICAT release which serves to cast a cloud of suspicion over the activities of honest Liberians in the US by insinuating their involvement in the planning and execution of an armed incursion into Liberia.
Pursuant our deep interest in the reconstruction of our injured motherland, the Liberian Community in Washington has consistently devoted its resources to assist Liberians languishing in refugee camps across West Africa, and even offered subsidy to aid students at the declining University of Liberia while championing the cause of Liberians attempting to make the difficult transition to life in the United States. To that end, whatever internal machinations that may characterize the LURD, is not of concern to us as an organization.
We certainly recognize Mr. Ben Davies' right as a private citizen to hold and to act on any personal opinions he may have regarding any matter. We also view the information attributed to Mr. Ben Davies in the MICAT release as "reported" until confirmed. However, we reject and condemn what appears to be a self-serving and politically motivated campaign of misinformation by a dubious clique of collaborating parties. To ascertain the facts of this matter, the Secretary General has been duly cited to an emergency meeting of the LCA Executive committee to respond to this matter. The findings of the LCA leadership will then be forwarded to our Board of Directors and general assembly for their review and appropriate action.
John G. F. Lloyd