Liberia: Under Pressure President Reportedly Sets Up Team to Deal With Appointments

Monrovia — With the exception of the few ministers that President Joseph Boakai has nominated, the President has reportedly abdicated his responsibility to appoint to a committee comprised largely of Senators, leaving the rest of the appointments to the new government in limbo, FrontPageAfrica has learned.

The decision comes as the president has been under immense pressure from his party to appoint partisans to key positions in government while trying to satisfy members of the alliance which helped him win the presidency. Parties like Prince Johnson’s Movement for Democratic Reconstruction and All Liberian Coalition Party have also been complaining that they are not fully represented in the nominations made so far.

FrontPageAfrica has viewed a lengthy list of job demands from ALCOP, with only a handful allocated so far.

One source close to the Presidency speaking to FrontPageAfrica Sunday said, the President is not really abdicating his appointing responsibilities but is instead having the committee vet and recommend to the president. “This is the President’s way of curbing the number of people running to him for jobs at his house,” the source speaking on strict condition of anonymity said Sunday.

Things went haywire last Thursday following the confusion emanating from various leaks of appointments on social media. One such which drew attention was the name of Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi. Some partisans reportedly claimed that the President was not aware how Massaquoi’s name got on the list while some say, Massaquoi actually met with the President. Concerns are also being raised over the influence of former Speaker Alex Tyler, who some say pushed the appointment of his brother, Sirleaf Tyer at the Ministry of Transport, where Sirleaf has been a deputy for the past six years. The former speaker endorsed President Boakai in the second round of the 2023 elections.

Calling in Favors

Another appointment bearing influence is that of the nominee to head the Ministry of Education, Dr. Jarso Jallah Saygbe, who happens to be a close relative to Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon.

FrontPageAfrica recently reported that tension is rising within the UP Alliance following leaked information about new appointments. Both the UP and MDR hierarchies are expressing frustration at being kept in the dark about these appointments. Particularly contentious is the selection of Sara Beysolow as Foreign Minister, a choice that has displeased the UP faction. Adding more fuel to the fire is the controversy surrounding Beysolow’s education credentials which is said to be threatening her nomination, especially as her confirmation hearing nears.

One source close to the Presidency speaking to FrontPageAfrica Sunday said, the President is not really abdicating his appointing responsibilities but is instead having the committee vet and recommend to the president. “This is the President’s way of curbing the number of people running to him for jobs at his house,” the source speaking on strict condition of anonymity said Sunday.

Said the source: “People have been running to him for jobs and this is not sitting well. In fact, the President blasted at some people Saturday who were barging on him as he prepared to deliver his first Annual Message.” Article 58 of the Constitution of Liberia mandates that the President of Liberia, on the fourth working Monday in January of each year, is to present the Legislative Program of the Administration for the ensuing session, and report on the State of the Republic, covering the economic condition of the Nation, including expenditure and income.

Ironically, throughout and after the campaign, Mr. Boakai appointed John Morlu, a campaign financial consultant and Chief Fundraiser. The former Auditor General Morlu advocated and assured Liberians that a President Boakai would establish a transparent recruitment and vetting process. However, since the victory, he has faced rejection and marginalization, as many within President Boakai’s circle appear inclined to adhere to traditional political appointments rather than embracing the promised clean and merit-based approach.

Committee Members Include Senators

Ironically, throughout and after the campaign, Mr. Boakai appointed John Morlu, a campaign financial consultant and Chief Fundraiser. The former Auditor General Morlu advocated and assured Liberians that a President Boakai would establish a transparent recruitment and vetting process. However, since the victory, he has faced rejection and marginalization, as many within President Boakai’s circle appear inclined to adhere to traditional political appointments rather than embracing the promised clean and merit-based approach.

The selection and appointing committee members include Vice President Jeremiah Koung, Senator Prince Moye, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, Minister Sylvester Grigsby, Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, Senator J. Alex Tyler, Senator James Biney, and Unity Party chairman Luther Tarpeh with Mamaka Bility serving as Secretary and former Foreign Affairs Minister Augustine Ngafuan serving as a key list supplier.

The naming of some members of the committee is already raising eyebrows. Hours after the President’s victory, some partisans took exception to the influence of Senator Amara Konneh, who was seen as influential to the presidency, and taking to task for trying to usurp their functions from the Senate to the presidency when he agreed to participate as a member of the Transition Team.

Senator Konneh recently stepped down his role with the Boakai transition team in a bid to separate himself from what he termed a gray area. “As I prepare to be sworn in as a Senator on January 15, 2024, I find it imperative to resign from my role in the Joint Presidential Transitional Team (JPTT) effective immediately. This decision, though bittersweet, is in strict adherence to Article 3 of our Liberian Constitution, which emphasizes the separation of powers and the checks and balances essential for a thriving democracy.” Article 3 states: “Consistent with the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances, no person holding office in one of these branches shall hold office in or exercise any of the powers assigned to either of the other two branches except as otherwise provided in this Constitution; and no person holding office in one of the said branches shall serve on any autonomous public agency.”

Konneh said that in order to ensure no appearance of a conflict of interest or grey area, “I am publicly making these declarations.” Liberians are now question while 6 of the 8 people on the Boakai’s recruitment and selection team are senators, who are also going to be confirming and overseeing the officials.

Appointments So Far

To date, the President has so far Nominated: Boima S. Kamara – Minister of Finance & Development Planning; Mr. Sylvester M. Grigsby – Minister of State for Presidential Affairs; Mr. S. Kofi Woods, National Security Advisor; Mr. Gregory Coleman – Inspector General, Liberia National Police and Mr. Sam Gaye – Director of the Executive Protection Service (EPS).

Others appointed so far are Madam Sara Beysolow Nyanti, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Dr. J. Alexander Nuetah, Minister of Agriculture; Mr. Amin Modad, Minister of Commerce & Industry; Dr. Jarso Jallah Saygbe, Minister of Education; Dr. Louise Kpoto, Minister of Health; Mr. Dorbor Jallah, Commissioner General, Liberia Revenue Authority; Mr. Abraham K. Kromah, Director General – Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency.

Also appointed so far are Cllr. Jeror Cole Bangalu – Minister, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Cllr. Cooper W. Kruah – Minister, Ministry of Justice, Mr. Jerolinmek M. Piah – Minister, Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Madam Gbeme Horace Kollie – Minister, Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection, Mr. Roland Giddings – Minister, Ministry of Public Works; Mr. Sirleaf Tyler – Minister, Ministry of Transport; Mr. Bill Mcgill Jones – Deputy Minister for Administration, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning; Mr. Dehpue Zuo – Deputy Minister for Economic Management, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and Mr. Anthony Myers – Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.

The appointment also includes Madam Tanneh Branson – Deputy Minister for Budget & Development Planning, Ministry of Finance Development Planning; Mr. Elwood T. Nettey – Comptroller & Accountant General, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning; Mr. Amos Tweh – Managing Director, Liberia Petroleum Refining Company; Mr. Emmanuel N. Reeves, Sr. as Officer in Charge of the Liberia Maritime Authority and Mr. Jake Kabakole as Officer in Charge of the National Oil Company of Liberia. These Officers-in-Charge will oversee the institutions until their official heads are named.

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