Gov’t Welcomes State Department’s Visa Restriction Policy
The Government of Liberia (GOL) has welcomed the United States government’s visa restriction policy, intended to target those who undermine democracy in Liberia.
A release issued by the Ministry of Information says, “This policy, the government believes, further reinforces President George M. Weah’s expressed commitment to building a more democratic society—grounded in respect for the rule of law, free expression, and association, as well as the holding of free and fair elections.” According to the release, this was the central theme of President Weah’s address to the UN General Assembly last week and during various conversations with U.S. stakeholders, including U.S. Charge d’Affairs, Catherine Rodriguez.
“The Government believes the U.S. statement, coming at a time when incendiary rhetoric by politicians have been on the rise, will aid its efforts to calm public anxiety around the up-coming democratic exercise,” the release observed.
It can be recalled that the United States Department of State, in commitment to supporting and advancing democracy in Liberia and around the world, has announced a new visa restriction policy under Section 212(a)(3)C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act for those undermining democracy in Liberia. This policy will take effect in advance of the up-coming election.
A press statement issued by the Secretary of State, Anthony J. Blinken, dated September 27, 2023, says, “Under this policy, the United States will pursue visa restrictions for those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Liberia, including through manipulation or rigging of the electoral process; use of violence to prevent people from exercising their rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly; use of measures designed to prevent political parties, voters, civil society, or the media from disseminating their views; or engagement in any other activity designed to improperly influence the outcome of an election. Certain family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions. Persons who undermine democracy in Liberia—including in the lead-up to, during, and following Liberia’s 2023 elections—may be found ineligible for U.S. visas under this policy.
“The visa restriction policy announced today will apply to specific individuals and is not directed at the Liberian people or the Government of Liberia (GOL). The decision to impose visa restrictions reflects the commitment of the United States to support Liberians’ aspirations to have free and fair elections that demonstrate the will of the people and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.”
Meanwhile, the Government of Liberia (GOL) has also welcomed the arrival in the country of scores of election observers from the ECOWAS, AU, EU, U.S. and other observer missions from around the world. This comes as international partners in Liberia have commended various stakeholders, including the elections commission, for the methodical and open manner in which they have conducted themselves so far.