Gbezohngar Findley Confirmed as Foreign Minister – Joins Pres. Weah For AU Summit Jan. 30
Monrovia – Newly nominated Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gbehzohngar Milton Findley, has been confirmed by the Senate and would form part of President George Manneh Weah’s delegation to the African Union Summit on January 30.
Gbehzohngar Findley, one of the last groups of individuals to join the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), having crossed over from the former ruling party—Unity Party— was among the first cabinet nominees released few hours by President Weah after taking his oath of office on Monday, January 22.
Mr. Findley’s confirmation was rather speedy as confirmation hearing was done earlier on in the day on Wednesday, January 24, by the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and by nightfall, news filtered in that he had been confirmed. He replaces outgoing former Foreign Minister Marjon V. Kamara.
Mr. Findley, a former Senator of Grand Bassa County, served as Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate from 2012-2014 when he lost his seat through midterm senatorial election to Senator Jonathan Kaipay.
Prior to joining the CDC, Findley was hopeful of being selected by former Vice President Joseph Boakai as running mate on the ticket of the Unity Party (UP).
He resigned from UP shortly after former Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay was picked as vice standard bearer by Mr. Boakai.
At a press conference announcing his withdrawal of support from UP, Findley said he and the party no longer shared common political interests.
Many within the new ruling party have expressed disappointment over this appointment by President Weah, citing issues of trust.
Some within the party’s executive committee, who asked for anonymity, said there are strong reasons to believe that Findley joined the CDC to be an eye of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the Weah-led government.
Madam Sirleaf was accused by her party during the elections of supporting and rigging the first round of the election for President Weah and the CDC.
The allegation was, however, denied by her press secretary, Jerolinmek M. Piah.
At the confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Mr. Findley told members of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee that he was coming to the post as a greenhorn in the rudimentary of international diplomacy but would surround himself with some of Liberia’s crème de la crème in order to positive project the country’s image out there.
Foreign Minister Findley further told his former colleague Senators, that as Minister, he will work to ensure that the diplomatic relationships existing between Liberia and its traditional partner, the United States of America, is further strengthened. He also publically committed President Weah’s government to the One-China Policy.
“If I say to you that I have a remedy now, I will be lying to you; I am not an experienced diplomat. But the President has made it clear that the Liberian government will hold onto the One-China Policy at the same time we will maintain our traditional relationship with the US,” Foreign Minister Findley responded in relation to a question that had been posted to him by Cllr. Varney Sherman, Chairman on the Senate’s Judicial Committee.
Chief among some of the things he promises to do at the Foreign Ministry is to reduce the cost of the Liberian passport for ordinary Liberians to afford. Even though the Foreign Minister didn’t say how much the passport, which is now sold for US$50, would cost after its reduction, however, stated that the reduction is in line with the President’s “pro-poor governance agenda.”
On the consolidation of revenues generated by the ministry, especially from the sale of visas, the new Foreign Minister said: “I don’t know the details of the visa fees but I do know that funds are being generated from its sale. I will ensure revenue from it, goes into the consolidated account.”
Mr. Findley, who served as Pro-temp of the Liberian Senate for two years, promised the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, that under his administration as Foreign Minister, he will ensure that the US Embassy, near Monrovia, provides proper accommodation for Liberians, who go there to obtain visa.
His promise was in response to concerns from Liberians who complained of being compelled to stand in the sun or rain for hours waiting for visas, outside of the embassy’s premises, with no accommodation.
“Our people will not have to stand under the rain and sun under my administration. I will work with the US Embassy to find a solution to this problem.”
Speaking on the appalling conditions of Liberian diplomats and their embassies and missions, the Foreign Minister further promised to treat the issue of salary as a major concern. He, however, added that he will have to rely on budgetary appropriations from the Legislature.
Foreign Minister Findley also told the Senators that his administration would also look at the number of embassies and see if some can be merged so as to shift costs to the welfare of Liberian diplomats abroad.
Minister Findley also promised to recommend to the President that the nation’s Foreign Policy focus be on Economic Diplomacy.
Mr. Findley has relatively good curriculum vitae (CV). But none of the items on it has got any connection with Foreign Service or diplomacy. His degrees include, Doctor of Humane Letter (LHD) Honoris Causa, Master’s in Sociology and Bachelors of Science in Electronic Engineering and Technology.