Accused of Aiding Protest? The Inside Story of Liberia’s Recall of Ambassador to UN
Monrovia – Last week’s sudden recall of Mr. Lewis Garseedah Brown, Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, came as a shock to many Liberians – and even much more surprising to stakeholders at the world body who had previously expressed satisfaction with the level of presentation of Mr. Brown, who was recently led Liberia’s election as Chair of the 4th Committee of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly.
Report by Rodney D. Sieh, [email protected]
The recall came just days before the start of the UNGA which kicks off September 18, 2018 at the UN headquarters in New York.
In a letter notifying Mr. Brown of his recall last Monday, August 20, 2018, Foreign Minister Gbehzongar M. Findley instructed the Ambassador to immediately pack up and leave his post for Monrovia.
Said the minister: “Mr. Ambassador, I present my compliments and have been directed by the President of Liberia, H.E. George Manneh Weah, to have you recalled from post with immediate effect. You are directed to provide the names of your family members for the purpose of providing air tickets and shipment of your personal effects and to officially take leave of Secretary General of the United Nations immediately. You will also be contacted by the office of the Deputy Minister for Administration with respect to your return to Liberia. I take this opportunity to thank you for your invaluable services to Liberia as well as your laudable representation of the country to the United Nations.”
The following day, Tuesday, August 21, 2018, Mr. Brown acknowledged the minister’s letter and thanked the government for giving him a chance to serve for the past seven months.
US$10K Already Sent for Departure
Said Ambassador Brown: “Minister, I present compliments, and acknowledge receipt of yours, date August 20, instructing my immediate recall, as directed by His Excellency, the President. I thank you for the kind acknowledgement of our service, and for the support we received. Please convey my gratitude to the President for the opportunity to have served our country at the United Nations for the better part of seven months including the new administration, as well as my continued best wishes for a successful stewardship of the Liberian government. As instructed, I look to interact as quickly as possible with the office of the Deputy Minister for Administration, to facilitate and ensure my immediate repatriation.”
Ironically, barely 72 hours after his recall, Ambassador Brown’s recall letter was in the public domain and posted on the social media Facebook.
Diplomatic sources say the timing and abruptness of the recall suggest the commission of a serious offense by Ambassador Brown, or his stay on would undermine or compromise the interests of the Liberian government
The usual practice, diplomatic sources say, would have been to recall the Ambassador for consultation, and have the issues resolved. If it proves unresolvable, then an understanding would be reached for a recall.
The letter of recall which did not offer a reason left many speculating as to the reasons for the recall of an ambassador who a highly-placed Foreign Ministry source described as “over-performing”.
A Foreign Ministry source confirmed that the letter of recall was written and sent on the 20th of August; Ambassador Brown responded on the 21st; D. Maxwell Kermeyan was named on the 22nd; and USD10,000.00 has already been sent to NY to repatriate Ambassador Brown, his family and his belongings home.
The same source wondered that since the announcement of the recall of Ambassador Brutus several months ago from Washington DC, she is yet to receive any money for her repatriation, and is yet to be replaced.
It was speculated that Liberia’s vote on the issue of the US relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem may have led to the recall of the Ambassador. But Liberia’s vote was not just taken before this administration was elected but also it was instructed by the Liberian government at the highest levels. Diplomatic observers say in such a scenario, if anyone should be responsible for that vote against the US position in moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, it should be president Sirleaf as every president is responsible for his or her own foreign policy and the Foreign minister and Diplomats at foreign missions are to implement the President’s foreign policy. Ambassador Browne could not have voted against the US without instruction from the foreign ministry or the executive mansion.
‘I Hope it’s not True’: Accused of Aiding Planned Protest
Executive Mansion and Foreign Ministry sources have now confirmed that the real reason behind the unusual, abrupt and angry tone of recall is that Ambassador Brown is being accused of siding with plans for a demonstration against President Weah during his participation in the upcoming UNGA.
“The President is angered by this and has not only instructed that Ambassador Brown be recalled but that he and his family be returned home before he sets foot on American soil. We are embarrassed to tell the Ambassador.”
When contacted, Ambassador said, “No one has bothered to ask me about this, and I hope it is not true. I know no one organizing a demonstration against the Liberian Government or the President, and although I respect the rights of Liberians to protest, I cannot participate, support or sponsor any anti-government demonstration in my capacity as the Permanent Representative of Liberia to the United Nations. It is simply ludicrous for anyone to even think this to be possible of me.”
“Should I happen to reach a place of irreconcilable difference with the government, it has to be my duty to resign rather than be a representative of the government to the world, and support the organization of protests against the same government.”
“Ambassadors, and many others in the Executive domain of the government serve at the will and pleasure of the President. I respect the President’s discretion. But, as a Liberian, I have to hope that baseless and erroneous claims are not compelling presidential actions or reactions.”
The 73rd session of the UNGA will open on 18 September 2018. The first day of the high-level General
Pres. Weah Due to Speak Sept. 26
Debate will be Tuesday, 25 September 2018, and is scheduled to last for nine working days. Liberian President Weah who is expected to attend is due to speak on the morning of September 26.
The recall means Liberia will be without a seat at the high-level segment which also begins on the 18th of September.
President Weah who will be attending for the first time speaks on the morning of the 26th. Mr. Brown’s recall puts Liberia at risk of losing the chairmanship of the 4th Committee and participation in the leadership of the 73rd Session of the GA.
Liberia also risks being represented at ambassadorial level because of scheduling of the Secretary General to receive the letters of credence of the replacement assuming he is given a visa after being confirmed