President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf around 9:20 a.m. Monday, May 12, signed the Book of Condolence for former Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), Charles Gyude Bryant.
The signing ceremony took place at the Foyer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The President was later joined by Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, who signed, too.
Chairman Bryant died April 16, 2014 at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center following a brief illness. He was in his 65th year.
President Sirleaf at the ceremony expressed sorrow and consoled the bereaved families to take heart. The Liberian leader also expressed her appreciation for the roles that former Chairman Bryant played in promoting peace and reconciliation in Liberia.
President Sirleaf said signing the Book of Condolence in the late NTGL head’s honor was an expression of sorrow and an appreciation for the role he played in promoting peace and reconciliation in the country. “I’m glad that we’re able to spend these few moments to his memory.”
President Sirleaf’s ascendancy to the Liberian Presidency was under the watchful eyes of the late Chairman. She took over from the NTGL Chairman Bryant on January 16, 2006. President Sirleaf admitted that the country will surely miss him.
To the surprise of some, the ceremony was attended by children and relatives of the late Liberian statesman. Charles G. Bryant III, son, Cheryl R. Bryant, daughter, as well as Julia Williams, sister-in-law and Mamyn M. Kamarah, nephew represented the family.
Their presence at the signing ceremony brought to an end the much publicized request from some members of the Bryant and the Carr Families that the Government should decline giving Chairman Bryant a state funeral.
One noteworthy situation at the ceremony was President Sirleaf, who should have been flanked by key lieutenants (cabinet ministers) were somehow weary with the absence of almost the entire member of Cabinet with only two key ministers present.
The Foyer was notably empty in terms of signees, though this was overshadow by the presence of several employees of the Foreign Ministry.
It is known that at least two of the ministers are out of the country and were represented by Deputies, only Education Minister Etmonia David Tarpeh and Minister Edward McClain were present along with some heads of autonomous agencies.
Not a single minister or proxy was seen from the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), which has been the airwave and requesting the families of the late Chairman to allow government give a befitting state funeral.
The Liberian President was constraint to tell them that some of the officials would arrive later to continue the ceremony.
She, however, urged them to relax themselves, feel free and request anything that they would need to make their stay at the Ministry comfortable.
Others who signed the book were Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alex Tyler and Members of the House of Representatives; followed by the President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Gbehzohngar Findley and Members of the Senate.
This was followed by the Chief Justice, Justice Francis Korkpor and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and other members of the Judiciary, including the president and members of the Liberian Bar Association.
Former Heads of State and former Vice Heads of State of Liberia, the Doyen and members of the Diplomatic Corps, Consular Corps, and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) as well as heads of international organizations also signed the Book of Condolence.
The clergy and imams, other officials of Government including heads of public corporations, autonomous agencies, bureaus and commissions, former officials of government, heads of political parties and civil society organizations also signed the Book of Condolence.
The general public will have an opportunity to sign the Book of Condolence on Tuesday, May 13, 2014.
The late NTGL Chairman’s remains will be removed from the Samuel Stryker Funeral Parlors at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 13 and taken to the Trinity Cathedral on Broad Street for an evening of wake keeping beginning at 6 p.m. Mr. Bryant was a staunch member of the Episcopal Church. He rose through the leadership ranks of the Trinity Cathedral becoming the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
The funeral will commence at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 14, also observed as Unification Day, a national holiday. The cortege will then depart for the township of Crozerville, Montserrado County where internment will take place in the old churchyard of the Christ Episcopal Church.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company, T. Nelson Williams, upon signing told newsmen that the late Bryant was an integral part of the process that brought peace in the country after 14 years of crisis.
MD Williams noted that it was under Chairman Bryant leadership that the country started to experience relative peace, and subsequent democratic election.