Liberia Gets New Foreign Minister

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In the latest reshuffle of her administration, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has named new ministers of Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs and Information, among several other appointees.

According to a press release from the Executive Mansion, the President has named Marjon Kamara, Liberia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, as Liberia’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs, while J. Wesley Washington becomes Assistant Minister for Public Affairs, at Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

If confirmed by the Senate, Kamara will be Liberia’s second female Foreign Minister, after Olubanke King Akerele. In the late 1970s, Kamara worked with the late Foreign Minister C. Cecil Dennis, who succeeded Rochforte L. Weeks, President Tolbert’s first foreign Minister in 1972.

Dennis served as Foreign Minister until the Tolbert administration was overthrown and many of its officials, including Dennis, executed on firing squad on April 22, 1980. Shortly after that, Marjon Kamra was employed by the United Nations and served for some time at the UN offices in Geneva, Switzerland. She was later appointed permanent delegate to the UN by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. As Foreign Minister, she succeeds Augustine Ngafuan who resigned a few months ago.

An ambassador is not higher than a foreign minister, because all ambassadors report to the foreign minister. We recall that President William V. S. Tubman appointed former President Charles D. B. King as Liberia’s first ambassador to Washington in the late 1940s. In 1952, President Tubman also appointed his former vice president, Clarence Lorenzo Simpson, as ambassador to Washington. In the mid 1950s, President Tubman appointed outgoing education secretary Ernest Jerome Yancy as ambassador to Israel.

George Wallace, who served as President Sirleaf’s first Foreign Minister, was later appointed Ambassador-at-Large, and Nathaniel Barnes, who served in the Taylor administration as Minister of Finance, was appointed by President Sirleaf, first as permanent delegate to the United Nations, and later as Ambassador to Washington.

President Sirleaf also appointed her controversial Minister of Information, Lewis G. Brown, to the post of Ambassador, the release said, though it did not disclose the specifics of Brown’s ambassadorship.

Brown has been a tough-talking Information Minister who is noted for vehemently defending positions of President Sirleaf’s administration, even if it meant raising the ire of the Legislature. In one instance, the Legislature demanded that he go back to class to learn how to do his job. He is also on record for encouraging Liberians to take ownership of their country in the government’s campaign to change Liberians’ perception about political events in the country.

Also involved in the reshuffle is Youth & Sports Minister Eugene Nagbe, who now succeeds Brown as Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism. Mr. Saah N’Tow succeeds Nagbe as Minister of Youth and Sports.

For the post of Minister of Internal Affairs, President Sirleaf appointed Dr. Henrique Tokpah to succeed her long time good friend, Morris Dukuly, who she sacked after he told the National Legislature to send her proposed Land Act “back to where it came from” until consultations were properly conducted.
President Sirleaf also appointed Adolpus Wade, Tonia Wiles, Wilfred Gray Johnson, and Reverend Bartholomew Colley, Commissioners at the Independent National Commission on Human Rights.

Joseph Howe is now the Assistant Minister for Energy at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, while Boakai Kanneh becomes a Member of the Law Reform Commission.

To the Board of Commissioners, Public Procurement and Concessions Commission, the President tapped Willie Belleh, Chairman, and former Maryland County Senator John Ballout, Member, replacing Mr. Catakaw.

Kansualism B. Kansua, is the new Assistant Minister for Road and Rail, Ministry of Transport, while Edsel Smith, was named Assistant Minister for Construction, Ministry of Public Works.

The rest are Abu Kamara, Assistant Minister for Administration, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications; Rose Stryker, who once served as deputy police director, is now Assistant Director, Executive Protective Services (EPS), and Edwin Walker, Notary Public, Montserrado County.
The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Senate where applicable, the release said.

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