Liberia: Beysolow-Nyanti’s Confirmation Hearing Postponed

Foreign Minister, Olubanke King Akerele (right) was one of those who showed up at the Senate yesterday in support of Madam Sara Beysolow Nyanti’s confirmation

— Amid groundswell of popular support

Capitol Hill, the seat of the Liberian government in Monrovia, was the center of attention for the nation on Thursday as thousands of eager supporters and well-wishers of Foreign Minister-designate, Sara Beysolow Nyanti gathered in the early morning hours to demonstrate their unwavering support.

However, the highly anticipated confirmation did not go as planned as it encountered an unexpected interruption—a situation authorities said was a result of the huge presence of people, an estimated 2,000 or more, on the grounds of the Capitol Building.

As the public hearing commenced, the atmosphere was filled with anticipation and a fervent sense of optimism. However, after only a few minutes into the proceedings, Senator Dillon, the presiding official who is chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, announced the postponement. He cited a security breach and the overcrowding of the chamber as the primary reasons behind this unforeseen decision.

Though the confirmation hearing was deferred, it is no secret that the nomination of Beysolow Nyanti, a highly respected woman who practically reached the pinnacle of international public service with the United Nations, has been received favorably by the general public as Liberians crave an internationally recognizable name who will be the driver of the country’s foreign policy. This, many believe, would accrue the requisite dividends for the country.

Despite the huge public approval, Beysolow-Nyanti has become the target of a smear campaign from some quarters regarding her credentials, with critics claiming they were obtained fraudulently or from bogus universities.

While some view these attacks against Sara as a proxy war being pushed by rivals who were overlooked for the post, others see it as a broader campaign against women holding top positions in the new government.

It was against this backdrop that Liberians, especially women and young girls, converged in their numbers yesterday in solidarity with the Foreign Minister-designate.

The crowd seemed be largely attributed to a call for the public to attend by the Foreign Relations Committee Chair, Senator Abe Darius Dillon, who stated on his Facebook page, The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs/Relations holds confirmation hearings for Foreign Minister Designate, Madam Sara Beysolow-Nyanti tomorrow at 2PM (GMT) in the Chambers of the Senate.  The media and public are invited. The Committee is arranging to have the hearings aired LIVE on public radio ELBC.” It was observed that the EU, US, and Chinese had representation amongst the crowd.

Yesterday, women's groups, women activists, and eminent women gathered on Capitol Hill to show their support for Sara and send a strong message that women will not be cowed into submission by smear campaigns.

They highlighted the need to address gender equality and emphasized that enough is enough. The postponement of Sara's confirmation has sparked a broader conversation regarding the challenges that women face when pursuing leadership positions. It serves as a reminder of the obstacles and bias that are still prevalent in our society.

Some said the gathering signified the unity and determination of women to rise above these challenges and demand equal opportunities in all fields.

“It is important to ensure that any allegations against Sara are thoroughly investigated, taking into account both due process and respect for her accomplishments in the international arena,” Nora Harris told the Daily Observer.

For Harris, it would be fair enough for the confirmation process to focus on evaluating her qualifications, experience, and vision for the role she has been nominated for.

“We as a country should be respectful and come to these discourses with an unbiased approach. We also need to value merit and integrity above all,” she said. “Women's representation in leadership positions is of paramount importance, and any attempts to hinder that progress will be met with strong resistance.”

“Sara Is Qualified for the Job,” says Leymah Gbowee

There was a strong show of support for the Foreign Minister-designate with several eminent and prominent showing up on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Among those were 2011 Nobel Laureate, Leymah Gbowee, former Foreign Affairs Ministers Marjon V. Kamara and Olubanke King Akerele, former Monrovia City Mayor, Ophelia Hoff Saytumah, Aissatu Bah Kenneth, Deputy Director for Administration at the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), amongst others.

Gbowee later told the Daily Observer in a phone interview that Beysolow-Nyanti is best suited for the job.

“I think Sara is qualified to run the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate noted with confidence. With what she termed as an attack on Beysolow-Nyanti, Gbowee noted that Liberia is fast slipping into a dangerous trap that has to be tackled now or it might lead to serious harm to the country.

“It is unfortunate that because of the gullibility of society, anyone nowadays gets to Facebook, writes anything about other people’s hard-earned reputation and goes unpunished,” she said. “Beyond the lack of patience and actual due diligence, we have gotten to a point where a few people would use Facebook to do advocacy that I call behind-the-screen advocacy. Even if they are in person doing the advocacy, they want to become the law and authority in their own right.”

She added, “Liberia is getting into a trap where anyone can get up at any time and write a lot of things about anyone else; tarnish your reputation, destroy your integrity, and if we don’t be careful, many Liberians who are competent and capable of giving the necessary assistance leading to the transformation of the country will shy away.”

Gbowee: “I think what is important for us is to look at Sara’s record, all of the countries that she has served in, especially representing the United Nations. I was in South Sudan and I know what she was able to pull together when we went last year for the conference.”

Supporters Remain Committed to the Cause

Meanwhile, the news of the postponement was met with disappointment by Rev. Sara Beysolow Nyanti's supporters, who had anxiously awaited the opportunity to witness the confirmation hearing. Nevertheless, undeterred by this setback, the supporters remain committed to their cause and have vowed to assemble in full force on Monday for a fair and unbiased confirmation hearing.

“We came today to support this great woman. We have been waiting for a long time for somebody like her who has the education and experience to help this country. They say we should come back on Monday, and we will be back on Monday. We just want them to be fair to the woman,” says Mrs. Kebeh Jallah, a women’s rights activist.

Throughout this unexpected and unprecedented turn of events, Rev. Sara Beysolow Nyanti expressed her gratitude towards her supporters and the unwavering belief they have shown in her capabilities. She remains resolute in her dedication to serving Liberia as the Foreign Minister. She is eager to address the nation's concerns while showcasing her qualifications and vision for a better future.

The events of today, though disappointing, serve as a reminder of the immense support Rev. Sara Beysolow Nyanti has garnered on her journey toward this significant position. The postponement of the confirmation hearing should be viewed as a temporary delay, rather than a setback, as it allows for necessary adjustments to be made to ensure the proceedings are conducted with the utmost adherence to security protocols and fair representation.

Rev. Sara Beysolow Nyanti’s supporters eagerly anticipate Monday's rescheduled hearing, ready to once again demonstrate their unwavering support for her confirmation. They remain united in their determination to witness a transparent and inclusive process that maintains the integrity of Liberia's democratic values.