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September 18, 2013

Liberian President’s Son Resigns Government Post

by James Butty

The son of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Tuesday resigned his post as chairman of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL).  

Robert Sirleaf also stepped down as senior advisor to his mother.  Critics have accused President Sirleaf of nepotism.  

In accepting the resignation, she said her son had fulfilled his assignment to “ensure full reform of the oil sector.”  

Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmek Piah countered the criticism by saying Robert Sirleaf had the requisite experience and qualification and was, therefore, suited for the oil company post.  

Piah said President Sirleaf was pleased with the work her son had done.

“In accepting the resignation of Mr. Sirleaf, she informed the Liberian people that she did say that Mr. Sirleaf’s involvement with the oil sector was purely in the interest of the Liberian people. The president was keen on reforms which were meant to benefit our people.  So, she did say that now that Mr. Sirleaf has achieved what was meant to be achieved, and the oil sector is now on course with all of the different reform activities, it was now time to go and she congratulated him for his service to his people and country,” he said.

President Sirleaf said the reforms her son instituted were intended to “bring about a competitive process in the bidding for oil resources, and to make sure that the benefits of the oil sector are passed on to all Liberians.”

Piah dismissed criticism that the Liberian leader caved to criticism of nepotism.  He said her son had the requisite experience and qualification and suited for the post.
Butty interview with Piah

“Mr. Sirleaf came to government as a Liberian citizen, who is entitled to employment opportunities, and said consistently that he was qualified for the job.  And we’re glad that, [at] the point of his leaving, no one has questioned his integrity, no one has linked him to any act of financial impropriety. The only crime he must have committed, as was reflected in many of the utterances, was because he was the son of the president,” Piah said.

A law to restructure the National Oil Company is awaiting action by the House of Representatives.  The Senate has already reportedly acted on the legislation.