MONROVIA-The Executive Pavilion in downtown Monrovia was a scene of laughter and celebration on Thursday when the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia commemorated the 247th Independence anniversary of the United States of America.

The United States’ Independence anniversary is commemorated officially on July 4 every year, but the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia usually observes the historic day before the actual date.

At the event attended by President George Manneh Weah and top officials of the Liberian Government, United States Ambassador Michael McCarthy hailed the enduring partnership and remarkable history of Liberia and the United States share.

Just two weeks before his departure, Amb. McCarthy, who does not shy away from flagging out the Liberian Government’s shortcomings, lauded the Weah-led government as he outlined some of its achievements.

“In fact, in my time here, if there is one recurring theme that unites every visitor to this country is the sense of Liberia’s potential. There are so many reasons for hope. I have seen a glimpse of the new Liberia,” he said.

Liberia elected a female President, it also elected a female Vice President over five years ago and has now sworn in Liberia’s third female chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Until early this year, fifty percent of the Armed Forces of Liberia’s Generals were female.”

Amb. McCarthy said the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) has made significant strides in the energy sector under the all-Liberian management team headed by Monie Captan.

The LEC, headed by the Irish-Ghanaian-based ESBI as part of an agreement between the Liberian Government and the donor community, was turned over to an all-Liberian management team. The team inherited several problems including widespread power theft.

Currently, the LEC continues to make strides. It has concluded CLSG negotiations, physically joining the West Africa Power Grid. In addition, LEC is coordinating with donors and the World Bank on the next stages of hydropower expansion, adding carbon-free power generation through additional turbines, enlarged reservoirs and eventually a massive new dam project. Amb. McCarthy said the LEC management has proven its doubters wrong.

“The LEC has proven that with campaigns and public pressure, attitudes on power theft CAN be changed… There were those who predicted disaster when foreign advisors took their hands off the steering wheel of LEC, but note that all of these advances have been achieved under strictly Liberian management.”

“True government reform takes patience and determination. Long-term change requires a behind-the-scenes effort that often goes unseen and underappreciated.”

He pointed out that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has introduced systemic reforms for processing legal attestations and passports, including requiring bank receipts rather than cash for payments.

He hailed Liberia’s improved ranking in the annual Trafficking in Persons’ Report over the past two years, which he said did not happen by coincidence, but through a concrete reflection of the coordinated effort between the Legislative Branch, the Judicial Branch, and three Ministries in the Executive Branch.

In the health sector, Ambassador. McCarthy stated that Liberia has made advances, and was now sharing with the world its experience as a leader in Community Health Worker methodology. Forty-one countries, he mentioned, have adopted Liberia’s methodology, adding a flagship malaria study showed that the Community Health Worker’s approach is receiving so much attention, as rates of infection for children under five years old plummeted from 49 percent to 18 percent in only six years.

The U.S. diplomat trumpeted the impact the U.S. exchange programs had on the lives of many Liberian youths. He also singled out the Youth Election Fellows program at the U.S. Embassy where 33 youth from diverse political parties participated.

“Our hope for all our U.S. government exchange programs is that the unique experiences and different perspectives offered by exposure to the United States will enrich emerging leaders and impact Liberian society. These people refuse to accept that progress is “inevitable,” rather, they see that improvements are made when leaders in that society have the determination, honesty, and integrity to put the needs of the country before their personal interests. The hundreds of alumni of U.S. programs that I have met, many of whom are in the audience today, convince me that this country will have valuable patriots contributing to Liberia for years to come!

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