… Until sexual harassment allegations against him are purged, FeJAL warns
By Hannah N. Geterminah and Judoemue M. Kollie
The Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL) has called on President George Weah to withdraw the appointment of Ambassador D. Maxwell Kemayah has Foreign Minister Designate over allegation of sexual harassment allegation.
In a press statement, FEJAL President Siatta Scott Johnson said the allegation against Amb. Kemayah is grave; therefore, the President should withdraw his nomination immediately as the country’s Feminist-in-Chief.
“We crave the indulgence of President Weah to prove his commitment to end rape by withdrawing the appointment of Amb. Kemayah until he is purged off this grave allegation that has the propensity of throwing a monkey wrench into the validity of the anti-rape document; if it is anything serious to go by,” said Mrs. Johnson.
Mrs. Johnson added that it is time for President Weah to convince the Liberian people that he is indeed the Feminist –in-chief he boost been off by demonstrating zero tolerance towards all forms of sexual violence by withdrawing Amb. Kemayah nomination.
“By this, Liberians will be convinced that the collective efforts as requested by President Weah are now well on its way to a broader collaboration and color gender-based the stakeholders in the fight to end rape and all forms of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls in Liberia,” she said.
This, FeJAL said will fall in line with President Weah’s recent statement at the just ended rape conference that “he has a zero tolerance for sexual violence in any form.”
Meanwhile, FeJAL has called on the Legislature, Ministries of State, Foreign Affairs and Justice to show proactive accountability by advising the President to withdraw the appointment until a full-scale report into the investigation is released.
Amb. Kemayah, who currently serves as Liberia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, was accused by a female employee of the Liberia mission.
The accuser, Whynee Cummings Wilson, in communications to the US Mission, UN authorities and Gender Minister Williametta Piso Saydee-Tarr narrated how Amb. Kemayah allegedly molested and sexually harassed her on January 8, 2020 — which happened to be her birthday.
According to her, Ambassador Kemayah on one occasion called her to his office and locked the door, and was allegedly harassed.
“After the event while I was about to leave and head home, Amb. Kemayah called me to his office and locked the door, and I was sexually harassed by him. Kemayah asked me several times to kiss him, stating, ‘You know what to do, just give me a kiss, we are all adults here,” Wilson narrated.
According to Madam Wilson, the action of Kemayah, who she considers as a ‘father’, left her in a devastating state. She narrated that the action made her stay away from office for a whole month, raising concerns amongst her colleagues.
Amb. Kemayah’s response
Amb. Kemayah in a five-page document response from New York through his legal team, the Tilem & Associates said “We are aware that long before his nomination as Liberia’s Foreign Minister, a handful of detractor’s unleashed an avalanche of failed attacks to hunt him down into disfavor with the President.”
The firm added: “We initiated an investigation based on our principle of avoiding prolonged and wasteful litigation. We do not want to have to pursue costly litigation against her or the news media publishing knowingly false statements. Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr. has advised us that he wants to continue the great work he has been doing and will not let this clearly false allegation stop him. What we have discovered is clear, Ms. Wilson and other state actors are attempting to harm Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah,” said the law firm.
The attack on the Ambassador, the firm said, is not just on him, but also is an attack on his beautiful and loving wife, Rev. Mrs. Dialokai Golanyon-Kemayah. Tilem & Associates indicated that the Ambassador has over the many decades built a strong reputation of integrity, both domestically and abroad.
The firm further defended Kemayah’s reputation and sincerity especially as a diplomat, stating that it was on the basis of his reputation that the President nominated him as Foreign Minister.
Gov’t launches probe
As the government launched a probe into Ms. Wilson’s allegation, Amb. Kemayah has denied any wrongdoing — while his activist and his political opponents called for his resignation or withdrawal. However, in a society that has over the past months been in the throes of a bitter battle against rape and other forms of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV), Amb. Kemayah’s colleagues in government appear to be standing by him for now until the findings of the probe can be completed.
The government, through Deputy Presidential Press Secretary Smith Toby has said the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Gender Children and Social Protection have launched an investigation in to the current sexual harassment allegation being leveled against Foreign Minister Designate, Ambassador Dee Maxwell Saah Kemayah.
Mr. Toby said that the Government is very cognizant about the matter and will ensure that the matter is properly investigated.
The report of Ambassador Kemayah’s involvement in sexual harassment comes just as the GoL declared rape as a national emergency and launched a roadmap to address the issue of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) in the country.
According to Toby, given the gravity of the allegation, the Government through the President’s office does not take the matter lightly but seizes the opportunity to look into it and shall subsequently inform the public.
“Based on the gravity of the allegation the government has launched an investigation and subsequently there will be a decision. At the moment, the government has taken possession of the allegation leveled against the ambassador with serious concern. This information broke out over the weekend and we are to come back to officially tell the Liberian public what the government has decided,” he explained.
He added that because the Government has considered rape as a national emergency, the allegation will be properly looked into with no disrespect to the complainant. Whatever decision comes concerning the issue we will inform the Liberian public.