Monrovia, Liberia- A photo shared by the Office of the Press Secretary to the President of Liberia and Officials of the Ministry of Information has ignited a major controversy on social media, with some Liberians terming the photo as being fake.
The photo which shows Presidents George Weah of Liberia and Donald Trump of the United States with their wives, is said to have been taken at a dinner hosted by President Trump for world leaders attending the 73rd General Assembly of the United Nations on the 24th of September 2018.
While the pictures of other world leaders posing with President Trump are clear, the first picture shared by the media team of the President’s Office on Social Media with President Weah and Trump posing, was not clear and very dull, which created more suspicion about its authenticity. Many Liberians, especially from the opposition end, claimed, the photo was doctored, since in fact, Liberia’s first lady is still seen in the same attire while attending the Mandela peace summit with the President earlier on Monday, and the President is seen attired in Coat-Suit, breaking with his earlier African styled attire.
Speaking to The Liberian Billboard, Presidential Press Secretary, Sam Mannah said, it would be a diplomatic catastrophe and an embarrassment to the Liberian government to post a fake picture of the Liberian President with the American President on Social Media. He said, he does not understand the mentality of some Liberians; especially in analyzing issue. In series of public clarifications made, the Presidential Press Secretary firstly wrote on Facebook:
“Ok, I didn’t want to respond because I thought it was a joke, but for people to really think that we would post fake/photoshop pictures of Our President and the President of the United States along with their wives on the official Facebook page of the Executive Mansion is absurd. Do people understand the diplomatic implications if we were to do such?
Do they know how embarrassing it would be to our Government were we to lie that our President met and took a photo with the US President and his wife if it didn’t happen? I would even be fired immediately for doing such.
Yes, the quality of the photos are poor, because they were taken via a cellphone with a poor camera, but they are in no way fake or photoshopped as some are asserting. For God sake mehn! Be logical for once.
If you look at the two different photos below, the only difference is that the President of Rwanda and Trump are standing more towards the Presidential flag on the right, which makes the USA flag far away from them, while our President is standing more towards the USA flag which makes the Presidential flag far from him. It’s just the matter of positioning. These two photos were taken at a dinner hosted by President Trump on Monday at 7pm. I have included a copy of President Weah’s schedule for Monday that shows he was due to attend that dinner on Monday at 7pm.”
“In a follow-up clarity in which the Presidential Press Secretary termed as final clarity, Mr. Mannah posted the following:
“Final clarity on the photos issue:
These photos are not fake as being insinuated by some. The photos were taken at a private reception dinner hosted by President Trump with selected world leaders on Monday September 24, 2018 at the New York Palace Hotel.
As common in diplomatic affairs, the host Country usually dictate protocol, therefore no other photographer was allowed at the event except for the White House Photographers, which is why the Executive Mansion Photographer did not attend the event.
The White House Photographers took the photos of each of the President and their wives along with President Trump and his wife, and framed the photos and sent the framed photos to each of the invited Presidents. The framed photos were then snapped with a cellphone and posted on our Executive Mansion Facebook Page.
While it is glaring that the initial picture quality was poor, it is in no way fake. Below are better versions of the Framed photos customized and sent to our President. Hope this clear your doubts.
Read the inscription on the bottom of the first photo.”
Further investigation by The Liberian Billboard authenticated Mr. Mannah statement about a dinner/diplomatic reception hosted by President Trump on Monday. An itinerary of President Trump posted on his Facebook page showed a diplomatic reception held on Monday at 7:00pm in New York. Furthermore, a framed version of the photo taken with Presidential Aide, Sekou Kalsco Damaro shows an inscription which has been validated by The Liberian Billboard Team as being prepared by the White House Press Office.
Despite the Presidential Press Secretary clarity, some Liberians are still doubting the authenticity of the photo, terming it as a fast cover up the government. Other Liberians accused government officials of being too fast to post every little thing about the Presidency and see it initiating a serious embarrassment to the government sometime in the future. Mr. James Johnson, a resident of 12th Street told our correspondent, “The government needs to be really careful right now how they put out information. They already have L$16 billion problems on their head, and they keep adding all kinds of scandals. It is not healthy for them.”
In the meantime, many Liberians said, they look forward to an immediate action by the President as it relates to the missing L$16 billion saga. A survey conducted by The Liberian Billboard found out that Liberians want officials or any person responsible for the missing banknote to be prosecuted without delay. They said, this would put a cap on the culture of impunity which has suffered the nation and impeded development for many years.