‘Ambassador’ Patten Returns, Apologizes to Senate

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Mr. Patten (R) takes oath before answering the Senators' inquiries.

-Says, when assigned by Pres. Weah, he “couldn’t say no”

The current Liberian “Ambassador” to the United States of America, George Patten on Thursday, February 21, 2019, offered a public apology to the Senate for taking up assignment without being confirmed by that august body. Patten immediately promised to formalize it with a letter today, February 22.

Mr. Patten offered the apology in the Chamber of the Senate when he appeared before the Senate committee on Foreign Affairs for confirmation proceedings, having prematurely taken up his assignment and commissioned by President George Weah outside the normal procedure. As ambassador-designate, Patten should have first appear for confirmation hearing by the Senate.

Patten, whose career as a diplomat and a lawyer spans more than three decades, was questioned on whether he had fulfilled Article 54 of the Constitution before taking up his assignment in Washington, D.C.

“I am an emissary of the President and an envoy given an official letter to deliver; I serve Liberia and the President, but the realization was that I have to come back here and I complied; that’s why I am here,” he said.

Mr. Patten, in response to further questions, said he realized his mistake later when the Senate asked him to return, “and that’s why I am here to have this discussion, this dialogue.”

He admitted being knowledgeable of the Constitution, but said that he is an emissary of the President, “and when the head of state requires you to undertake an urgent assignment, challenges may be there, but you could not possibly say no…”

Patten was positive of being confirmed, “because for over 30 years, I have dedicated my life in serving Liberia in the foreign service since leaving school; to countries like The Gambia, Libya, Ethiopia, and now the United States.”

“With the experiences that I have, I believe I can be very useful in Washington, cementing that historical relationship between Liberia and the United States, which we intend to strengthen further,” Patten said.

Senator Henry Yallah of Bong County asked whether Patten will go back to the United States as Ambassador, if denied by the Senate. In his response, he was not coherent.

Again, asked by Senator Oscar Cooper of Margibi County as to whether by a directive of the President, he (Patten) would do something unconstitutional, Patten fumbled, but  said finally: “I don’t think I will violate the Constitution, no sir.”

Sen. Cooper insisted on the question of why did he violate the Constitution in the first place by taking up assignment without meeting the constitutional requirement? But Patten took refuge in the excuse that he could not resist the urgency of the assignment from the President.

Following brief inquiries from other members of the Committee, Mr. Patten was discharged from the stand and told to go home but with a caveat that other issues would be discussed at the level of the Foreign Ministry at a later date.

Senate Goes into Urgent Session

Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday went into an unusual urgent executive session, midway into the debate on “An Act Prohibiting the Tenure of Public Officials within the Executive Branch of government.”

The decision came minutes after senators Thomas Grupee, Henrique Tokpa and Henry Yallah disagreed over a bill to the Legislature and which was submitted by President Weah for the prohibition of all tenured positions for public officials.

Senators Grupee and Tokpa were emphatic that the bill be returned to the President and, if he was not satisfied, he could go to the Supreme Court.

“This is the Genesis of how imperial presidency develops, and we are still reminded of our recent past of a long conflict, which was as a result of bad governance,” they said.

The debate is expected to continue next Thursday, February 28.

18 COMMENTS

  1. The Senate should not confirm this rascal. Have you ever heard in Liberia that an Ambassador or Minister was appointed and not being confirmed by the Senate? This corrupt Ambassador and his boss wanted to circumvent the law but it backfired. He and Weah knew just what they were doing. “Bypass the Senate.” Now that the shit has hit the fence, he wants the same Senate that he ignored, to have mercy on him. I say to the Senate, set an example, reject this rascal. He is unqualified.

    • “Unqualified ” After more than three decades – more than thirty years in the foreign service as a diplomatic agent, and at some points as the head of mission and ambassador??? You are spewing NONESENSE, Gotombo. Do not just comment for comment sake. Try to make sense and not stupidity.

    • Zinnah Gotombo, you sound as someone who could be labelled a pitiful lunatic by his friends. You must be commenting out of jealousy. Patten is a career lawyer and a diplomat. The diplomat’s appointment was in line with the Constitution and the rules of the Senate on recess appointment. Or are you ignorant of the two legislations?

      • And so who cares whether he has degrees in law and diplomacy from Halifax? If he is so qualified as all of you Baghdad-bob claims, he would have been the first to remind the president that the appointment was illegal and has the propensity to bring the presidency to disrepute (if it hasn’t already.) And now you all are here trying to sing kumbayah on his qualification (KWASIA to all of you!) There are other more competent and qualified Liberians whose pattern (pun intended) than non-integral George Patten.

  2. It is obviously necessary and wise for the Government of Liberia to post as its Ambassador anywhere, but especially to Washington, DC, one of the nation’s most distinguished citizens, preferably a seasoned diplomat of impeccable character with solid academic credentials and professional experience – one who would have the capacity to be taken seriously by the host government and the ability to command the attention and respect of colleagues at all times.

    • Peter Kortuwah, taking into account Ambassador Patten’s credentials in law and diplomacy, coupled with his wealth of professional services within international law and diplomacy, he is a seasoned diplomat and the right choice to head Liberia’s diplomatic mission in Washington.

      • His wealth of professional experience and many years of diplomatic service,, President Weah made the most appropriate choice.

  3. Ambassador Patten has done the honorable thing by returning to Monrovia to apologize to the senate and admit his mistake. Ambassador Patten as a career who has served our nations from New York, Gambia, Nigeria and Gambia. We hope that the senate will see reason to confirm him as our ambassador in Washington. To those who wants the senate not to confonfirm Ambassador Patten, it will do no one any good if such a career diplomat is turned down because of this error

    • “With wealth of experience,” yet, this other “diplomat” did not know ambassadors’ appointments are subject to confirmation before the assumption of official duties? The curse continues!

    • F.S. Hney, you have a point. But what matters is the fact that since after all this filibustering, Ambassador George Pattern who a career lawyer and a seasoned diplomat served as Liberia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Gambia, Lybia, and then at the United Nations, shall be after all, confirmed by the Liberian Senate.

  4. Thanks Kou,
    To be honest with ypu, I am gung ho about Patten’s appointment. It’s my hope that the Liberian senate will eventually confirm the guy.

    My issue is simple. If something is borrowed from America by the lawmakers of Liberia, that particular thing must be fully embraced, not partially embraced. What I have heard is that Rule 55 was set up in order for the president (not just Weah, all elected presidents) to make a recess appointment. Rule 55 gives the president the latitude to do what he did. We all know that Patten was not officially confirmed by the Liberian senate. Of course, it was a temporary recess appointment. Since Patten’s appointment was done during the Holy Season, it was known that he would return to Liberia in order to be officially confirmed as the constitution of Liberia demands. It was not a permanent appointment. It shouldn’t have been construed as a blatant violation of the Liberian constitution or a bold disrespect towards the elected men and women of the Liberian senate.

    The Patten issue could have been handled differently. I would have advised the president to notify the people of Liberia (on TV) about Patten’s appointment. I would have specifically told the president to say that Patten would return eventually to be confirmed by the senate.

    Some Liberians have drawn a red line in the sand. In other words, some Liberians believe that Weah is a bogey man. According to their thinking, Weah should not continue to serve as president. Kou, I understand how they feel. But all of us cannot condemn the guy to burn in the lake of fire. Oh no. Weah deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt. It’s my hope and prayer that Weah will try his utmost best. Does he make mistakes? Yes. Has Weah made mistakes before? Sure. He’s human.

    “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

    As you know, at least one-third of Americans are Trump’s core supporters. But Americans who disagree with Trump’s supporters do not curse or disparage in order to calm their blood pressure. Why can’t the haters of Weah learn that?

    To be fair, some of Weah’s supporters engage in name-calling. That’s wrong and I condemn such a practice from East to West! To all supporters of Weah, please be notified that I do not endorse, sanction or agree with you when you become abusive.

    Come on Ladies and Gentlemen. Let’s debate the pros and cons. Let’s take a break from shouting profanities at our political enemies. Let’s debate the issues, not the character traits of people.

    Peace!

  5. F.S. Hney, are you serious to state categorically that it is “some of Weah’s supporters who engage in name calling”? Do not try to buy sympathy or admiration from Weah’s critics or opponents or haters, by exonerating them from their rudeness and other uncivilized behaviour even they themselves know they are unable to alter.

    As a matter of fact, it is Weah’s and CDC’S critics and haters who are notoriously always engaged in name calling – a provocation which naturally causes not necessarily Weah’s or CDC’S suppoters, but other neutral personalities to obviously repel such unprovoked provocations and aggressions on the part of CDC’S haters or Weah’s critics. And you know it! FS. Hney. Do not be biased to gain empty sympathy or whatever at the expense of the truth.

  6. Thanks very much for your input Miss Waterspoon,

    There are two camps. The two camps are: Anti-Weah camp and pro-Weah camp. There is a serious divide. I am not naive. The two camps will always exist. Sadly, we’ve gotten to a point where the issues that cause the divide never ever get intelligently discussed without the use of micro aggression or blatant invectives.

    If you will recall, an unknown gentleman (maybe he’s ungentle) referred to you or someone with your last name as an Americo-Liberian-Weah-supporter. I immediately condemned that guy because he was dead wrong. Why? An Americo-Liberian is a Liberian. There are good and bad people all over the world!

    In order for any genuine peace to be made, both sides of the camps must be called to attention. I know what’s going on. I fully understand where you’re coming from. You probably know a whole lot more than I. Miss Witherspoon, please look at it this way. If I condemn one side of the camps, let’s say the “anti Weah camp”, without calling to attention the shortcomings of “pro-Weah people”, my bias will be exposed. Or some may say that I am a one-sided peacemaker.

    All in all, name-calling has got to stop. Critics of Weah can discuss the issues, present a contrast persuasively and do all they want. Similarly, Weah’s acolytes should not feel intimidated by anyone, but rather firm and prepared to respond. But, sending one’s opponent to hell because of a difference is un-Liberian or let’s say unpatriotic.

    Miss Witherspoon, your observation is understood.

  7. F.S. Hney, thanks for your response. Someone using insulting vulgarities and profanities against one and parents or other relatives, cannot be equated with reminding someone about another’s surname whether European or African.

    When pointing out the uncivilized comments and name calling on the part of people it is unfair, and BIAS on your part to target one “side of the divide” while leaving out the other side; especially in this case where it is this very side you are intentionally or unintentionally implicitly exonerating which insults the other side at random simply based on disagreement.

    The evidence is right here on this topic and page, Mr. F.S.Hney. “JUSTICE IS blind”!

  8. Miss Witherspoon,
    I’ve got your point. I brought up that issue because the gentleman went off base. Instead of talking about the issue that was being discussed, he talked about something else. If you’re offended by that, I am sorry.

    We the disscussants have to stick to the subject. It makes no sense to accuse one another for what’s happening back there. I could be wrong. However, I do believe that all of us can agree or disagree without sending people to h—!

    I know it hurts. People are unhappy. Unemployment is chronic. Roads are bad. The economy needs to be fixed. Some people are enjoying while others aren’t.

    Regardless, we have to work together. Not against one another. May God bless us all.

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