On the heels of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s acceptance of Augustine Ngafuan’s resignation from the Foreign Ministry, several of her officials have fallen under her axe, including one of her old-faithful lieutanants and a long-time friend, Morris Dukuly.
Over the weekend, the President dismissed seven and suspended one from her cadre of lieutenants — a decision that appears to be mixed with her genuine annoyance with the lackadaisical behaviors of some Liberians on the one hand, and feelings of betrayal on the other.
“President’s pleasure” no longer
In keeping with Article 56 (a) of the Constitution, President Sirleaf, an Executive Mansion dismissed Morris Dukuly as Minister of Internal Affairs. The constitutional reference states that “all cabinet ministers… appointed by the President… shall hold their offices at the pleasure of the President.”
Though the Executive Mansion did not provide a specific reason for Minister Dukuly’s dismissal, it is apprarent that President Sirleaf’s “pleasure” with Dukuly may have expired when the then Internal Affairs Minister called on lawmakers recently to reject the proposed bill by President Sirleaf to create an autonomous agency to handle all land-related matters.
It all started when three sector ministries requested the Senate to send the bill back to its authors (Sirleaf) for further consultations and deliberations. This act by Dukuly, a political commentator told the Daily Observer yesterday, constituted a “breach of trust that reduced the presidency to public ridicule.”
The President has also suspended indefinitely the Deputy Minister of Justice for Economic Affairs, Cllr. Emmanuel Tulay.
In addition, the President dismissed with immediate effect, her Chief of Protocol at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Rufus Neufville; Assistant Minister for Land and Rail Transport, Ministry of Transport, Abu Kamara; Assistant Minister for Public Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Horatio Bobby Willie; the Assistant Minister for Administration, Ministry of Post and Telecommunication, Ms. Margretta General-Smith.
The President also relieved of their posts Members of the Board of Directors of some state agencies, including Willard Russell, Liberia Maritime Authority; and Rev. Emmanuel Bowier, National Port Authority.
The Liberia Land Authority (LLA) Bill is currently before the Senate, and according to President Sirleaf, when enacted into law it would undertake actions and implement programs in support of land governance including land administration and management.
The responsibility for land matters would be removed from the ministries of Lands, Mines and Energy, Internal Affairs, Public Works, the Center for National Documents and Records and other agencies of government and transferred to the LLA.
But during a hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment, Morris Dukuly, then Minister of Internal Affairs, recommended that the bill be sent back to its authors (President Sirleaf and members of the Land Commission) so that further consultations would be held and that more experts be given the opportunity to weigh in on the many issues that are paramount.
Dukuly also called for more collaboration especially among the citizens, who consider the ownership of land as customary, while at the same time suggesting the involvement of seasoned legal experts who are versed in such matters to do further scrutiny on both the Land Rights Policy and the proposed law to make them acceptable to Liberians.
Minister Dukuly reminded the lawmakers that the first conflict that was mediated in Liberia with the involvement of King Sao Boso (Musa Kamara) was between the settlers and the indigenous people and it was over land.
He urged them to consider moving more judiciously on the matter.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs, he said, has in its employ many experts spread throughout the country, who constantly mediate in land disputes.
He added that there is an inseparable bond between land and the people and that in the new environment land is considered as wealth, power and sustainability, and everything that makes the citizens who they are.
“So when you discuss land issues,” Minister Dukuly told the Senate, “it has to be done with care and based on consultations.
“I am not clear what mechanism the new Land Authority Law will provide,” he declared. He said the law is more today than tomorrow, and as a former legislator, “I learned that law should be future looking, flexible, elastic and accommodate the new challenges that may emerge. I do not see this reflected in the draft bill as I have read it.”
Dukuly added that his basic proposition to the lawmakers “is to please do your wisdom and turn it back for us to collaborate more, consult and do more work to make a law that is not made for this administration, but rather has longevity.”
As for Neufville and Horatio Willie, sources close to the Daily Observer said they reportedly abandoned the President while in New York at the United Nations General Assembly and went their way. Neufville, our source said, had gone to get married.