Thursday, August 19, 2010

BULL-FIGHT: After Akerele Showdown, Minister Off to U.S. to Fill Barnes’ Shoes

- Rodney D. Sieh

Source: FrontPage Africa

Monrovia -


Finding a long-term replacement for the recalled Ambassador Nathaniel Barnes from the United States of America appears to have hit a wall with the man designated as a hold-over, the veteran diplomat William Bull apparently expressing initial reluctance to report for duty in 72 hours. Bull, the current Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, who has served as Ambassador to the United Kingdom and the United Nations was said to be unhappy about the assignment even though it would have meant some time away from an ongoing feud between him and his boss, Foreign Minister Olubanke King Akerele. The matter was finally resolved late Thursday night with Bull finally agreeing to take up assignment.

Ad-Hoc Ambassador not first time

A Foreign Ministry statement released late Thursday night confirmed that Sirleaf has temporarily assigned Bull, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, as Ambassador Ad Hoc to the Liberian Embassy in Washington, D.C., the United States of America, pending the appointment of a new Ambassador.

The Ministry's statement said the information has been officially conveyed to the U.S. Government through the Charge d’Affaires, a.i. of the Embassy of the United States of America in Monrovia, when he paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Her Excellency Mrs. Olubanke King-Akerele at her Foreign Ministry office on Wednesday, August 18, 2010. "Foreign Minister King Akerele has also communicated to her United States counterpart, Honorable Hillary Clinton the decision of the Government of Liberia concerning the assignment of Ambassador Bull as Ambassador Ad Hoc," the statement said.

According to the Foreign Ministry, this is not the first time that an Ambassador Ad Hoc has been assigned to Washington , D.C. . In 2004 the Transitional Government of Liberia assigned an Ambassador Ad Hoc to the Embassy of Liberia in Washington, D.C., pending the nomination of Ambassador Charles A. Minor as the successor to Ambassador William V.S. Bull who ended his tour of duty in 2002.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has meanwhile categorically denies media report that President Johnson Sirleaf communicated with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue a 72-hour ultimatum for Ambassador Bull to take up assignment. Said the Ministry's statement: "Ambassador Bull is a career Ambassador who has served the Liberian Government in many distinguished positions in the Foreign Service and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He served as an Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Liberia to the United Nations, Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Ambassador to United States of America and several Deputy and Assistant Ministerial positions having risen through the ranks of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1972."

Conflicting announcement fuels speculations

The complications emerged this week when the Executive Mansion announced that Edwin Sele, the current Deputy Chief of Mission at Liberian Embassy in Washington – and not Bull would hold on to the post temporarily. FrontPageAfrica reported Tuesday that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had instructed Minister Akerele to dispatch Bull to Washington without delay as Charges d’Affaires.

The recalled Ambassador Barnes is due in Monrovia from the U.S. in the next couple of days and is expected to hold discussions with Sirleaf upon his return.

Senior administration officials confirmed to FrontPageAfrica this week that Bull was the ideal choice to hold over the embassy in the U.S. until a permanent replacement is found. But Bull, who has been at loggerheads with Minister Akerele for quite some time is said to have been against the move. When FrontPageAfrica contacted Bull Thursday, he declined comment but took FPA to task for what he described as “causing confusion” within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over its initial report linking Bull as a temporary successor to Barnes. Bull declared that he was surprised at FPA’s “Practice of tabloid-style journalism.”

The announcement from Badio that Sele will act as Charges d’ Affaires boosted speculations that Bull’s delay departure was eclipsed by his speculated feud with Minister Akerele.

Selee, the Current Deputy Chief of Missions at the Embassy of Liberia in Washington DC, is known for his experience in the Liberian Foreign service. He is noted for over 16 years of Service at key Liberian missions including the United Nations and Washington DC where he has served as the second highest diplomat with oversight of mission operations. As a top level Foreign Service official, Selee is regarded as one who has rendered unflinching support and service to the Sirleaf administration. He is also on record for supporting the Sirleaf-Boakai ticket in the second round of the 2005 elections against George Weah.

Selee’s elevation to the top post in Washington, as a long-term replacement, may be hindered by a Foreign Service practice which does not support the promotion of a member of the diplomatic staff to Ambassadorial level at the same mission. Another factor surrounds the political affiliation of Sele who ran unsuccessfully for nomination as the Standard Bearer of LINU. Recent reports confirm that LINU recently merged with George Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) may place him in the corridors of Barnes.

Ties strained for some time

Relations between Bull and Akerele have been strained in recent months. Akerele, according to Foreign Ministry sources was unhappy over complaints from some members of the Foreign Service that Bull had reportedly been stalling concerns raised by them to the minister.

One of those cases involved the recall of Mohammed Kanneh, a former Minister Consular at the Liberian mission in China. Bull has been accused of recalling Kanneh without the minister’s knowledge when he served as Acting Minister during one of the minister’s travels. Bull in an unusual move, sources say, Bull used Andrew Allakamian Deputy Minister for Expenditure. To write letter recalling Kanneh from China minister consular. which is unusual. For nine months bull has been delaying a meeting with Akerele. unprofessional . whoever responsible was wrong

The Bull controversy comes on the heels of what senior administration officials are describing as an “embarrassing” diplomacy blunder that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs may not have been in the know of a recent 5-day visit to Beirut, Lebanon by football legend George Weah of opposition Congress for Democratic Change.

While in Lebanon, Weah held talks with Prime Minister Saad Hariri who is said to have described Weah as an “iconic and inspirational leader whose life story serves as a motivational factor” for modern world leaders like himself who believe in the well-being of humanity.

Speculations have surfaced for weeks that Weah has been in and out of the Middle East raising money for his 2011 presidential run and seeking assistance for the CDC.

Chief among the concerns are: Did the Foreign Ministry know of Weah’s five-day “official” visit? Was the Minister of Foreign Affairs aware? -Did the Lebanese Ambassador to Liberia know? What are the statues with the Honorary Councils for Liberia in Lebanon? One administration official described the Ministry’s snafu as a colossal failure.

Weah's Lebanon meeting upsets some

While in Lebanon Weah held several meetings with Lebanese businessmen, politicians and philanthropists urging them to carry out impactful investment and support humanitarian projects in Liberia.

Hariri, 37 is the son of assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri who came to power in 2009. The wealthy Hariri reportedly spent millions on his quest to become Prime Minister and some see Weah’s overtures as a sign that he may be out to raise funds for 2011.

With Bull now set to take on the post, pending the appointment of a new ambassador, FPA has learnt that he could remain in the post until after the 2011 elections. In recent weeks, several names have surfaced as possible replacement to Barnes. Among the names surfacing in recent weeks are Sele, John Lloyd, William Bull, Amos Sawyer and current Foreign Affairs Minister Olubanke King Akerele.

Akerele, insiders say may not be willing to take up the ambassadorial post which could seen as a demotion from her current position. Ironically, Akerele’s Grandfather Charles Dunbar Burgess King served as Ambassador to the U.S. long after he had served as President of Liberia. Former Vice President Clarence Lorenzo Simpson also served as Ambassador to the U.S. and London after he and Tubman fell out politically over Tubman’s refusal to step aside after a mandatory limitation of two-terms of office. Tubman had the constitution changed to provide that he could succeed himself as many times as the Liberian people wanted him to be president. Simpson was then drafted into the Liberian Foreign Service as Ambassador.

It was after that period that for more than 20 years the Liberian people were singing, “Tubman is the man we want, we don’t want nobody else, so all the people say.”

The chorus rang until the afternoon of July 21st 1971 when Tubman died in a London clinic as the popular African-American singer William Bell at a concert at the famed Relda Cinema in Sinkor, sang his popular tune “bring the curtain down, I can’t go on.”

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Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah



Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah

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