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Liberia: Minister Resigns


President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s minister of information has resigned. But was Johnny McClain fired. There have been reports that McClain had not been happy with President Sirleaf for what has been described as the lack of support for the ministry of information. Others have speculated that McClain was an ineffective minister who was kept out of the loop of the day-to-day operations of government. A statement issued late Thursday by the Executive Mansion says President Sirleaf has named the Reverend Lawrence Bropleh as the new information minister. McClain explains to VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty why he resigned.

“With the birth of democracy in Liberia, the euphoria of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, I happen to have occupied the frontline of the party. I took so many bullets; I took so many challenges for eight, nine months. And if you notice anybody who has been observing the Liberian media landscape and the Liberian scene, they will establish the fact that the tone has changed from hostility to reconciliation. So I felt that at this particular point in time, it was to step aside for a new soldier to continue the struggle. And the president and I arrived at a common ground,” he said.

McClain rejects speculations that he was forced out because he had not been an effective information minister. Instead he says his office received little support from the government.

“You sent your soldiers to battle with hunting rifles against the enemies with superior arms. Definitely, your soldiers will not be as effective as the others. When I arrived at the ministry, I did not meet or find one camera, whether still photography or video photography. We are an information ministry. We do not have a printing press; we do not have a radio station that covers the country; we do not have a news agency. We do not have anything that transmits information. What is a ministry of information all about?” McClain said.

The outgoing Liberian information minister says he does not blame President Sirleaf for the lack of support for his ministry. Instead he blamed it on those he says waged Liberia’s 14-year civil war.

McClain says President Sirleaf has asked him to assist in rebuilding the Liberian communication infrastructures.

“The President today requested that I participate in rebuilding the information infrastructures of the communication machinery of government, and that will defined in an announcement that will be made later,” McClain said.

McClain denies he was fired.

“I requested the President for an audience. She granted me the audience, and during that particular audience, we found a common ground, which was my leaving the ministry and being useful to her in other areas and telling me that she was considering an individual, and I should help that individual into the ministry because that individual has no prior experience of government information, which I gladly accepted,” McClain said.

An executive mansion statement issued Thursday says President Sirleaf has named the Reverend Lawrence Bropleh to succeed McClain.

McClain says he will spend part of his free time at his bricking-making business in Monrovia.

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