Liberia: Fahnbulleh Unfazed by Dismissal

Henry Fahnbulleh, the former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, who was dismissed by President George Weah two days ago for administrative reasons, claims no regret for the issues that led to his firing. 

Fahnbulleh, fired in the evening hours of November 8, has cited the Wynee Cummings saga at Liberia's Permanent Mission to the United Nations as the reason for his dismissal. 

The saga involves a live video recording in which Wynee Cummings, “a local staff member,” had been prevented by some New York City police from entering the mission on the alleged orders of Foreign Minister Kemayah.

He claimed that a day later (November 7), after he had spoken to the police, he began to receive calls from some officials closely tied to the president who suggested that the position he took during the settlement of the dispute was “embarrassing” and that he should retract it, a request he claims to have refused.

“On November 7, I started to receive many calls from some senior functionaries of the government with close ties to the presidency, whose names I will not mention here, that my statement to the cops validated Ms. Cummings’ allegation against Minister Kemayah, and that I should retract because it ‘embarrassed’ the government,” Fahnbulleh said.

“Some of the calls went up to midnight on Tuesday. I was in no mood to oblige to such a request because that was a statement of fact,” he added. “So, it did not come as much of a surprise to me for President Weah to have wielded his constitutional powers to relieve me of my duties.

Cummings, whom the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed not to be an employee -- something Fahnbulleh rejected when he spoke with the police -- had accused Foreign Minister Kemayah of sexual harassment while he was serving as our permanent representative at the United Nations.

 The complaint was formally lodged in September 2020, directly to Fahnbulleh while he was then Acting Minister, following the resignation of then Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar M. Findley in July 2020. While the complaint was never fully investigated as Kemayah denied the claim, it led to strained relations, as Fahnbulleh was in favor of investigating the complaint.

“What baffled me, though, was the speed by which such action was taken, when the simplest action to constitute an independent committee to probe into the myriad of similar allegations, which some of our development partners have found credible and had taken actions, has been largely ignored. 

I believe that every man or woman must own up to his or her actions. This is called accountability,” Fahnbulleh said. 

However, he said that his phone call with the police did not cause any harm. As such, he feels no need to feel remorseful, despite some officials in the government disagreeing with him and potentially playing a role in his dismissal.

“I intervened in the situation involving Cummings, the New York City police, and Foreign Minister Kemayah’s alleged sexual harassment of Cummings,” he said.  they say that if you don’t want to be FIRED, don’t be HIRED. With this, I once again extend my thanks to His Excellency President Weah for the privilege to serve in his government, and I wish him all the best.”