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Liberia: Former Leader Charged With Corruption


The Liberian government says it has formally charged Gyude Bryant, the former chair of the last national Transitional Government of Liberia. The charge alleges that Bryant misappropriated $1.3 million dollars during the two years he served as head of the interim government. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf addressed the country Monday, promising to prosecute those involved in corruption in her government and former administrations. The president’s speech came on the day that her embattled minister of state for presidential affairs, Willis Knuckles, resigned amid accusations of immorality.

Lawrence Bropleh is Liberia’s minister of information. He said Chairman Bryant has been under investigation for some time.

“The government has completed its investigation regarding former chairman Bryant and has now charged him. That has now been sent to the court, and the grand jury indictment will take place and be forward to the court for prosecution,”

Bropleh said President Sirleaf, in her speech Monday, promised to deal ruthlessly with corruption by prosecuting those who he caid continue to engage in corruption.

Some Liberians have expressed concern that the Sirleaf government could be setting a bad precedent by bringing charges against a former head of state. But Bropleh said the indictment of Chairman Bryant would put current and past government officials on notice.

“I think James that the standards that we would be setting would be positive standard because this would assure everyone, including President Sirleaf herself that when you are serving the public, you need to seek servant leadership and that you also need to guard how you manage public resources. There is no law, and I am limited to the interpretation of the law. But my understanding is that there is no law that prohibits this government from going after former government officials, including the former transitional government head,” Bropleh said.

Bropleh cited an audit commissioned by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which he said, implicated former chairman Bryant of misappropriating of government funds.

President Sirleaf’s speech to the nation Monday came on the same day that her embattled minister of state for presidential affairs, Willis Knuckles, resigned his post amid accusations of immorality.

Bropleh said President Sirleaf accepted Mr. Knuckles’ resignation with regrets.

“The president said though that she accepted his resignation not because of demands from those who sought to use this unfortunate situation to blackmail and who should probably review their own moral probity, rather she did so because first that she, the president has sworn to uphold high standards in her behavior and has made it clear to her own staff that we too would be held accountable for the same standards. And second, the president said, because she is in full agreement with those who do speak with moral authority that the behavior of minister Knuckles, while not illegal, is improper and inappropriate for a public servant,” Bropleh said.

Bropleh reiterated that President Sirleaf did not immediately fire Mr. Knuckles as many had thought she would because Bropleh said the president did not want to respond to those who he said had given her an ultimatum to sack Mr. Knuckles.

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