Former Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, who has come under fire of late for resigning from the government while on foreign soil, has again cited political participation in the 2017 Presidential and General Elections and being “a respecter of the law” as the only reasons why he resigned from the Unity Party-led government.
Appearing on state radio’s ‘Bumper Show’ on Wednesday, October 21, Mr. Ngafuan, who was the Dean of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Cabinet, said he didn’t resign in Liberia because he never wanted to distract the President’s attention from major activities that she had to participate in at the United Nations General Assembly early this month.
According to him, had he done so in Liberia, the President would have been responding to inquiries from every foreign friend and partner she met concerning the resignation of her Foreign Minister just as she was about to leave to attend the UNGA.
He clarified that in his resignation discussions with the President “she understood the rationale and gracefully accepted my resignation.”
Mr. Ngafuan also stated that those who are now lambasting him for resigning outside Liberia while attending a major function at the UN would have also said, “What kind of Minister of Foreign Affairs is this, who will give his President an important thing such as his resignation only a three-day notice?” if he had held his resignation to his chest, returned to Monrovia and tendered his resignation.
He said that he had weighed all his options before he finally decided to resign on foreign soil, to be in compliance with the law.
The former Foreign Minister, whose resignation took effect on October 10, told the Bumper Show’s host, Mr. Patrick Honnah, that he wrote his letter of resignation on September 25, but submitted it to his boss five days later.
Laying his premise for the talk-show discussion on Wednesday, Mr. Ngafuan said that he has always stated that come 2017 he was not prepared to be in what he termed as “a political icebox,” or being inactive.
“I have said it before. I had to resign because I am a respecter of law even if I had a disagreement with the law,” stated Mr. Ngafuan, who became a senior member of the UP-led government in 2006 when he was appointed Budget Director. He later rose to become Minister of Finance and after few years was appointed Foreign Affairs Minister in 2012.
The law, which the nation’s former chief diplomat referred to, is the National Code of Conduct for All Public Officials and Employees.
Specifically, he emphasized that he disagreed with the Code’s Part V (five), on Political Participation, which reads: All officials appointed by the President of the Republic of Liberia shall not:
a) Engage in political activities, canvass or contest for elected office;
b) Serve on a campaign team of any political party, or the campaign of any independent candidate.
5.2 Wherein, any person in the category stated in section 5.1 herein above, desires to canvass or contest for an elective public position, the following shall apply:
a) Any Minister, Deputy Minister, Director-General, Managing Director and Superintendent appointed by the President pursuant to article 56 (a) of the Constitution and a Managing Director appointed by a Board of Directors, who desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post at least two (2) years prior to the date of such public elections.
According to Mr. Ngafuan, he totally disagrees with this provision, which he stated “disenfranchises Liberians from exercising their political franchise.”
He stressed, however, that though he does not agree with this, “the law is the law,” and there is nothing more to his resignation other than what he had stated in his October 2 press statement.