-Claims Civil Society Working Group on SSR
The Civil Society Working Group on Security Sector Reform (SSR), which played an important role in the passage of the Amended National Police Act, has accused President George Weah of circumventing the act that the founders put in place for transparency and accountability by appointing Marvin Sarkor, a non-police officer, as deputy inspector general for operation (102).
The Act, approved on July 12, 2016 and published by authority of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on October 5, 2016, titled: “An Act to repeal the Act Amending the Executive Law with respect to the National Police Force, as well as, any other Acts Amendatory thereto, and the Decree of the People’s Redemption Council establishing the National Police Academy repealing Subchapter E, the Police Academy, Title 12 Chapter 22, Ministry of Justice, and to amend Chapter 22, Ministry of Justice, Subchapter D, Liberia National Police, and to establish in lieu thereto, the Liberia National Act, 2015.”
Under the Act, Section 4 define a police officer as an employee of the Liberia National Police who has met the recruitment criteria in this act and has been certified by the Liberia National Police Academy and Training School, as having undergone basic police training as a police officer, or having met any other entry level requirement as may be approved in the Liberia National Police Recruitment Guidelines.
Also, Section 22.79 (D ) says the deputy inspector general for operation of police shall be a police officer within the meaning of this Act and possess proven capacity in police administration.
However, the CSO working group on SSR, in a press release said that any confirmation of Sarkor would be in complete disregard of the Act of the LNP, thereby calling on President Weah to withdraw Sarkor’s nomination.
“Sarkor is an ex-US Marine and he had never attended any Liberia National Police Academy and Training School, as such he is not qualify to serve as inspector general for operation,” the CSO working group release advised, adding,” We are not going to sit here to allow our efforts and that of the international community be violated by the anyone including the President.”
President Weah on Thursday, May 16 nominated Sarkor to replace Robert Budy as deputy inspector general for operation.
Before his nomination, Sarkor served in several other positions, including Chairman of the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms (LiNCSA) and deputy director for operation at the Liberia National Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA).
The CSO working group on SSR recalls that on March 5, 2018, President Weah announced former Montserrado County Lawmaker Gabriel Nyenkan as the new head of Secretariat of the Liberia Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (LEITI), replacing Konah Karmo, who was appointed by the Multi-Stakeholders Steering Group (MSG) that governs the LEITI. Karmo was appointed in 2014, following a competitive recruitment process in which several other individuals and institutions participated.
That appointment was greeted with mixed reactions, especially from Global Witness, an international watchdog that declared the removal of Mr. Karmo and his replacement by Nyekan as illegal and called for the withdrawal of Nyekan’s appointment.
The mandate of the NLI appointment, by law, is not very different from that of the law governing the LEITI. Director and deputies are appointed by a governing board; the governing board, being appointed by the President of Liberia.
However, President Weah did not pay attention to that call and subsequently maintained Nyekan as LEITI Head of Secretariat. This resulted in an acute leadership deficit that affected Liberia’s relationship with the global body of the EITI. By September 2018 and after several warnings, the EITI had suspended Liberia’s membership due to the “country’s failure to publish the EITI report for the fiscal period ending June 2016, within the first week of the July 1, 2018 deadline.”
Again, President Weah’s appointment and subsequent commissioning of George S. W. Patten, Sr., to serve as Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States without the confirmation of the Senate as required by the Constitution was a “complete violation” of Article 54 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
At the demand of the Senate, Mr. Patten was forced to return to Liberia, face the august body and apologize for not having the temerity to inform the President that he was violating the protocol of Patten’s appointment.
A month after the LEITI appointment fiasco, President Weah, on June 19, 2018 appointed Moses Owen Browne, the former public relations officer at the Civil Service Agency (CSA), to replace Isaac W. Jackson at the IMO.
President Weah’s decision was, however, challenged by lawyers representing the two individuals, terming it as “an act of excessive abuse and overuse of presidential powers, which fundamentally violates Articles 54 and 89 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, as well as the statutory law of Liberia and the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) Act of 2010.”
Former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had, on September 13, 2016, appointed Jackson to the post of deputy commissioner and permanent representative to the IMO, the position that Browne has been nominated by President Weah to assume.
As a result of the President’s inability to remove Jackson, he sought to abolish the law that created tenured positions. After much uproar about the matter in the media and from Civil Society, the President appears to have relaxed on the issue. However President Weah’s letter to the Legislature, requesting the repeal of the law creating tenured positions, has not been withdrawn.