CENTAL reiterates calls for Weah to reverse his “illegal appointments”
The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), said it is worried that one of the nation’s anti graft institutions established by the government of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, with support from international partners, to help fight corruption has become practically nonexistent.
According to CENTAL, which is the local chapter of the global corruption watchdog, Transparency International (TI), President George Weah’s appointment of one of his cronies, Gabriel Nyenkan, as head of LEITI’s secretariat, has not only made the institution dormant, but allowed it to face international rejections and neglect.
CENTAL Executive Director, Anderson D. Miamen, said in a statement on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 that the continuous negative developments at LEITI, precipitated by President Weah’s interference and gross disregard for the laws that established that anti-corruption institution, have undermined the independence of the institution and lowered stakeholders’ confidence in its activities and processes.
President Weah, on March 5, 2018 announced former Montserrado County Lawmaker Gabriel Nyenkan as the new head of the Secretariat, replacing Konah Karmo, who was appointed by the Multi-stakeholders Steering Group (MSG) of LEITI in 2014, following a competitive recruitment process, in which several other individuals and institutions participated.
The President’s controversial appointment at LEITI did not only spark a barrage of criticisms locally, but also received international condemnations, especially from global anti-graft institution, Global Witness (GW), who has called for an immediate withdrawal of the President’s nominee.
Mr. Miamen said that since the appointment of the current leadership, against Chapter 6.3d of the LEITI Act of 2009, LEITI has been engulfed by controversies and gross under performance.
“The illegal change in leadership and institutional brain drain, caused by undue significant changes in personnel, resulted to the institution’s failure to publish its report for the fiscal period ending June 2016 within the 1 July 2018 deadline,” he said.
As a consequence, Liberia’s membership with the global EITI movement was suspended in September 2018.
Disturbingly also at a recent news conference, a visiting Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) delegation said Liberia risks being de-listed from the group’s process if, “significant corrective measures” are not implemented in a timely manner to revive the institution and improve governance of the Extractive sector.
CENTAL believes it is not too late, and is therefore calling on President Weah to reverse the illegal appointment in order to allow the MSG to independently recruit the head of Secretariat and other key staff to help restore the institution’s sanctity and declining image. LEITI has been and remains a key pillar of Liberia’s integrity system and must be allowed to independently play such critical role, moving forward.
Global corruption watchdog Global Witness (GW) was very vocal against President’s appointment and strongly condemned his decision—noting that it violates Liberian law and severely undermines the independence of Liberia’s critical anti-corruption agency.
GW, in a press statement at the time, called for the immediate withdrawal of Nyekan’s appointment and the sacked head of secretariat, Mr. Karmo to resume duties.
Because the independence of the LEITI is fundamental to its mandate and to the political stability of Liberia, the institution, in the words of GW’s extractive industries campaign leader, Simon Clydesdale, cannot be a “playground of political appointments.”
Meanwhile, following President Weah’s announcement, Mr. Nyekan stormed the offices of the LEITI Secretariat with armed police officers and demanded that its head, Konah Karmo, leave the building. Karmo is reported to have complied with Nyekan’s orders given at gunpoint.
But Nyekan’s action was greeted with instant condemnation by civil society groups.