Monrovia – The Liberian Business Association (LIBA), which represents the private sector on the National Governing Council (NGC) of the African Peer Review Mechanism Liberia Country Program (APRM-LCP), has formally withdrawn from the process.
The decision was overwhelmingly reached at LIBA third annual convention in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County from April 7-8. LIBA President Dee Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr. has been presenting the private sector but was forcibly booted out in a palace coup on January 19.
But LIBA delegates, in a four-page resolution, resolved to withdraw Kemayah because, among other things, it felt that the process leading to developing a Liberian report that depicts the true reflection of the current governance system was compromised.
“Against this background, we resolved to, with immediate effect, withdraw LIBA from the African Peer Review Mechanism Liberia Country Program (APRM-LCP).
“We do hereby mandate Mr. Dee Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., to immediately and unconditionally refrain from all functions, activities and interactions relating to the APRM-LCP as LIBA have completely lost confidence in the process,” said LIBA vice President David K. Sembeh, who read the resolution on behalf of the delegates.
The delegates also commended Liberia Chambers of Commerce (LCC) President Francis A. Dennis and the LCC family for the confidence reposed in Kemayah to represent the private sector on the NGC of the APRM-LCP.
The latest decision by LIBA will further cast a dark cloud over the APRM-LCP, which faced an integrity crisis when Bridgitte Slyvia Mabandla, eminent person of the APRM continental secretariat in South Africa, paid a weeklong country support mission (CSM) visit to Liberia late February.
The South African, who was in Monrovia with a five-man delegation, held series of meetings with state and non-state actors on the finalization and adoption of the work program of the (CSM) before President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed a memorandum of understanding on February 24 for technical assistance to the APRM-LCP and discussed its road-map ahead of the country self-assessment and county review reports.
During the meeting, Sirleaf said even though no country would want their technicians to check on their leaders, she was proud of the exercise.
“We hope Liberia will be a part of benefitting from these processes,” she said and commended Mabandla for assuming her new assignment.
Pres. Sirleaf said the APRM involvement with Liberia was important as its democratic maturity will be tested during next year’s Presidential and legislative elections.
But those proceedings were overshadowed by Kemayah’s forceful removal as he was replaced by Emmanuel David, a representative of the Liberian government while Malcolm Wleemongar Joseph of the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (Cemesp) was selected as vice Chairman.
The plotters alleged that Kemayah is conspicuously participating and affiliating with current political activities, failure to convene meetings and overly engaged and preoccupied schedules, which they sent to outgoing Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh and Deputy Minister James F. Kollie.
But documents in our possession showed that Kemayah participated in all activities and meetings of the NGC, including the design of a five-year strategic plan for the APRM-LCP and a draft standard operating procedure, which is awaiting a validation.
FrontPageAfrica, however, understands that the government has been showing signs of reluctance to provide funding for the NGC under Kemayah’s watch in order to strangulate the process due to his critical and uncompromising stance on national issues.
The NGC of the APRM-LCP comprises of stakeholders from various sectors and provides policy and strategic direction for the rollout of the program. It was established by President Sirleaf in May 2015.
Kemayah’s removal without due process and subsequent formal withdrawal mean there is no representative for the private sector. It has been alleged that the government wants to ensure a cooked report that reflects a beautiful picture, contrary to the harsh realities of bad governance in Liberia.
Kemayah has been vocal on the difficulties faced by Liberian owned businesses and bad governance under the watch of Sirleaf, who was reelected in 2011 and was one of three Nobel Laurates.
Delivering an inaugural address in May 2014, Kemayah criticized the lack of opportunities and jobs despite a foreign direct investment of US$16 billion but President Sirleaf recently conceded that only US$4.2 billion was actually invested. Kemayah also alleged that government was awarding contracts to foreign firms instead of empowering Liberian-owned businesses.
In February 2015, Kemayah reminded Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh to implement an approval of a revelation he made at the installation dinner of the LCC on May 4, 2012 where the government agreed to use 25-percent of the Government of Liberia budget for furniture to purchase locally produced furniture from Liberian-owned businesses.
Also in February 2015, Kemayah described vindictiveness as a vampire to reconciliation just as corruption is a vampire to development and warned that there can be no cosmetic approach to a holistic reconciliation in Liberia. His comments were in sharp reaction to a meeting held by President Sirleaf with Samuel Kanyon Doe, Jr. on January 28, 2015.
According to an Executive Mansion release, Pres. Sirleaf shared thoughts on issues of governance, development, peace and reconciliation with Doe Junior, whose father she described as a brutal dictator in her Independence Day message on July 27, 2009.
Those developments made the government uncomfortable with Kemayah and a fear that he will not compromise a realistic country report, which will underpin bad governance, corruption and the lack of rule of law Liberians are experiencing.
There is already a state of fear with series of deaths in the wake of the gradual drawdown of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and a complete handover of security to the government on June 30, 2016.
Liberia acceded to the APRM in 2011, becoming the 30th member of the continental mechanism, representing about 76 percent of the total African population. President Sirleaf signed the accession document at the opening of the 14th summit of the APR forum of heads of states and government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on January 29, 2011.
On that occasion, the President said the decision by Liberia to accede to the APRM was a further manifestation of government’s commitment to promote good governance and accountability in the country, and that Liberia would continue to exercise the principles of good governance to help enhance national development and a society in which the government is open and accountable to its people. The APRM is a mutually agreed instrument voluntarily acceded to by members of the African Union as an African self-monitoring mechanism.
Its mandate is to encourage participating members to ensure that their policies conform to the agreed political, economic and corporate governance values, codes and standards, and the mutually agreed socio-economic development objectives contained in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad).
Dr. Amos Sawyer, who heads Liberia’s Governance Commission, is chairperson of the APRM panel of eminent persons.