Ambassador Mohammed Sheriff, a medical doctor, now Liberian ambassador to the Court of St. James (London), has a habit of getting himself into disfavor almost everywhere he has worked in recent times.
At the onset of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration in 2006 he was assigned to be one of the Deputies at the Ministry of Health. The new Health Minister at the time, Dr. Walter Gwenigale, soon found himself constrained to ask the President to remove Dr. Sheriff from the Ministry because he was causing unnecessary problems there.
He was next assigned to the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, but did not last there either. Heaven knows why this trained physician seems to have no interest in the practice of medicine, but in administrative positions for which he hardly has any qualification or experience.
True to his predilection (penchant, tendency), he got himself appointed to one of the world’s most senior diplomatic posts, ambassador to the Court of St. James, London.
No one knows why President Sirleaf took such a risk, knowing fully well that Dr. Sheriff definitely had no qualification for the job, or for being Liberian ambassador anywhere. A good diplomat is one who, according to the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary, possesses “skill in conducting negotiations between people and nations without arousing hostility.”
A person who lacks this skill should not be appointed a diplomat anywhere, not even to a backward country anywhere in the world, not to speak of one of the world’s leading nations, Great Britain. So how did he get there? Ask the boss of the nation’s Chief Diplomat—the Minister of Foreign Affairs—for it is that boss, the President herself, who alone is clothed with the constitutional authority to appoint ambassadors.
Now Dr. Sheriff has done it again! On the heels of President Sirleaf’s outstanding address to the United Nations General Assembly this Tuesday, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) interviewed Ambassador Sheriff and asked him a number of pertinent questions.
One of them was about a very special Liberian in their capital, London, whose name happens to be Charles G. Taylor. Why is he so special? Because he is a former Liberian Head of State who has was convicted of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity and is now serving his life sentence in a British prison right there in London.
The BBC interviewer asked Ambassador Sheriff several questions relating to Taylor. It is unfair for anyone to expect this novice ambassador to have responded to the BBC questions diplomatically, for he is a medical doctor alright, but not a diplomat.
In response to one of the barrage of questions put to Ambassador Sheriff, he was asked what he thought of Charles Taylor and whether the ambassador thought Taylor should be freed.
The ambassador responded,
“Do you want my honest opinion?”
“Yes,” said the BBC reporter.
The Liberian ambassador then proceeded to let her have his personal opinion, totally forgetting that the question had been posed not to an ordinary Liberian resident in or one passing through London, but to the Liberian Ambassador to the Court of St. James, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious diplomatic posts.
In reply, he told the BBC reporter that “Charles Taylor is a changed man who has learnt his lesson. He should be freed to return home and participate in Liberian politics because he has a large following in Liberia.”
The ambassador forgot—or did he ever learn—that Charles G. Taylor had been convicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, The Netherlands. We do not believe that even the Queen of Great Britain or the British Prime Minister has the constitutional authority to pardon Charles Taylor.
Besides, the entire international community, including the Sierra Leone government, on whose behalf Taylor was tried and convicted, is convinced that the world could not risk keeping Taylor in prison anywhere in Africa. Why? He is too dangerous a prisoner to risk occupying a prison anywhere on the continent.
Nor has the world forgotten that it was he who started the Liberian civil war and it was also he who, by flouting and abrogating every agreement he signed, deliberately kept the war going for 14 years—a war that devastated Liberia and led to the slaughter of nearly 300,000 people.
Did Doctor Ambassador Sheriff know these facts? Perhaps, but has apparently already forgotten them, and has proceeded to challenge the entire world, including the Special Court in The Hague who convicted him.
Why did he do this? Only he can tell. The ambassador will have plenty of opportunity to explain himself—if at all he can—when he answers the call of the Liberian government, as we have reliably learnt, to “return home at once for consultations.”