CDC LED GOVERNMENT CONDEMNED FOR ILLEGAL INTERFERENCE IN LEITI

CDC LED GOVERNMENT CONDEMNED FOR ILLEGAL INTERFERENCE IN LEITI

When political pundits saw the writings on the walls and predicted that President George Manneh Weah did not have the requisite expertise, experience and qualification to become Liberia’s President, there were those who argued that ‘book was not important’. Today, history is unraveling the truth. President Weah is not only coming under enormous pressure nationally due to ill informed decisions about his placement of unqualified and inept individuals in national government, but also his ignorance of the laws of the land. The latest condemnation comes from the Global Witness.

In a release issued on 19 March 2018, Global Witness has ‘strongly condemned the illegal removal of Konah Karmo, Head of Secretariat of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI)’. According to the international transparency group, ‘the firing of Mr Karmo by President George Weah, who has replaced him with Gabriel Nyenkan, violates Liberian law and severely undermines the independence of Liberia’s critical anti-corruption agency’.

It can be recalled that on March 5, 2018, President George Weah announced that Gabriel Nyenkan was to assume the post of LEITI Head of Secretariat. One week later, Mr Nyenkan arrived at the LEITI office in Monrovia accompanied by Liberian police officers. They demanded that the current Secretariat Head Konah Karmo leave the building, which he did.

The removal of Mr Karmo and appointment of Mr Nyenkan, according to Global Witness, ‘is illegal’. Liberia’s LEITI Act states that only the ‘LEITI Multi-Stakeholder Steering Group (MSG) can appoint or remove the Head of Secretariat’. This safeguard is critical for the maintenance of LEITI’s independence and to ensure that the agency is not dominated by any of its constituent groups or subject to political manipulation and external interference.

LEITI is an autonomous Liberian agency that ensures transparency in Liberia’s forestry, oil, mining, and agricultural plantation sectors. It has the legal mandate to publish company contracts and the money they pay to the government. LEITI is governed by an independent MSG that is comprised of representatives from the government, companies, and Liberian civil society groups. Together, these representatives can keep one another accountable and ensure LEITI continues to promote and deliver transparency.

“President Weah must immediately withdraw the appointment of Gabriel Nyenkan, to allow Konah Karmo resume his duties as LEITI’s Head of Secretariat,” said Simon Clydesdale, Extractive Industries Campaign Leader at Global Witness. “LEITI’s independence is fundamental to its mandate and for the political credibility of Liberia, it cannot be the playground of political appointments”, Global Witness release concludes.

It can be recalled that President Weah has been involved in making controversial appointments and nominations in government disregarding the laws governing the institutions. For instance, President Weah appointed a Country Representative at the Mittal Steel, and has made several other illegal appointments in sectors where Boards should have first been set up to approve administrators. Several Liberians and international partners are currently jittery about government’s poor decisions processes, something that might reverse the democratic gains the country has made over the past 14 years.

Following the announcement of Nyenkan’s appointment by President Weah, the civil society bloc of the Multi-Stakeholder Steering Group (MSG) of LEITI called on him to reconsider his decision to “enable the entity fully focus on the crucial task at hand before the next validation of the country in the coming months”. The MSG has the statutory mandate to oversee LEITI and is a tripartite conglomeration of the civil society, private sector/companies and the government in accordance with Section 2.2 of the Act that established it.

LEITI’s 2009 Act requires the President to appoint members of the MSG, and “shall designate one of them as the Chairperson and another as the Co-Chairperson”. “The power to recruit the Head of Secretariat, Deputy and other staff members of the LEITI Secretariat therefore lies with the MSG, according to Section 6.3d of the LEITI Act.”

 

One Response to CDC LED GOVERNMENT CONDEMNED FOR ILLEGAL INTERFERENCE IN LEITI

  1. Tom Kaydor says:

    The President is proceeding wrongly. His policy advisers must be bold to tell him that such moves might bring national and international condemnation to his young regime.

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