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Liberia’s Foreign Minister Resigns With Eyes on 2017 Election

FILE - Augustine Ngafuan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liberia.
FILE - Augustine Ngafuan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liberia.

Liberian Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan has resigned, saying he wants to be an active player in the coming 2017 presidential and general elections.

He served the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government for 10 unbroken years in various capacities: as finance minister, director of the Bureau of the Budget and foreign minister.

In a statement issued over the weekend, Ngafuan said there was no acrimonious relationship between him and the president. In fact, he said he had a “frank and cordial discussion” with the president who graciously accepted his resignation.

Contacted by VOA, Ngafuan declined to give a voice interview.

Rodney Sieh, publisher of Liberia’s FrontPage Africa newspaper and online magazine, said Foreign Minister Ngafuan also took aim at the legislative act requiring all officials appointed by the president and who are desirous of seeking an elected office to resign their appointed positions two years prior to the date in which they will be seeking an elected office.

“In a statement issued late Saturday evening, the minister took keen note of the act of the legislature prescribing a National Code of Conduct, basically saying that they should resign before participating in any elected political office for the 2017 election, and he said he wanted set an example because he has ambition for 2017,” he said.

The law states that “any Minister, Deputy Minister, Director-General, Managing Director and Superintendent appointed by the President Pursuant to article 56 (a) of the Constitution and a Managing Director appoint by a Board of Directors, who desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post at least two (2) years prior to the date of such public elections."

In his statement, Ngafuan said while he did not agree with some provisions of the law, he had no intention to disobey it.

“I have therefore determined that my continued service in the Government in the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs will have the net effect of legally making me politically inactive, an outcome that conflicts with my intention for the future. It is in light of the aforementioned, coupled with my desire to keep my political options open, that I have written the president of the Republic of Liberia, H.E. Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, tendering my resignation from the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia effective October 10, 2015,” the statement said.

The outgoing foreign minister told VOA in a phone call that he does not agree with some of the provisions of the legislative act prescribing the code of conduct for elected officials because it appears to discriminate against appointed officials while leaving legislators with similar political ambitions virtually untouched.

Ngafuan said as the first appointed official to resign, he wanted to highlight some of the inadequacies of the law.

Sieh said the date for any appointed official having elected political ambition to resign their positions is October 15 this year. He said it remains to be seen whether other political appointees with similar ambition like the foreign minister would resign their posts before the October 15 deadline.

Sieh said Foreign Minister Ngafuan’s intention to possibly run for the presidency in 2017 would likely create a complicated scenario for the ruling Unity Party because Ngafuan comes from the same Lofa County with Vice President Joseph Boakai who has also declared his intention to run for the presidency in 2017.