Monrovia — The Liberian government's chief spokesman, Information Minister Lewis Brown says the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration has not received any official notification from the family of the former head of the National Transitional Government of Liberia shunning government protocol for the funeral of the fallen statesman.
Addressing the weekly news briefing at the ministry Thursday, Minister Brown said: "As yet, the government, not that I know of, has received no formal communication from the family to the effect that the government should abstain."
Charles Gyude Bryant, who led the NTGL from 2003 - 2005, died suddenly, last Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at approximately 5:00 PM at the JFK Medical Center in Sinkor, Monrovia Liberia.
The Bryant and Carr families have set wake keeping, funeral and interment for May 9th and 10th, 2014 respectively, but made it quite clear in a statement this week that the government should abstain and did not include the government in the protocol for the funeral and wake.
The family says it intends to carry out Chairman Bryant's last wishes. "It was Chairman Bryant's wish that there be No Panegyric, No Official Gazette issued, No Laying in State, No 21-Gun Salute, No Military Escort, or any State function over his remains. The families intend to carry out his wishes."
The family statement extended profound thanks and appreciation to the people of Liberia and the International Community for their trust in and support of the Late Chairman Bryant during his leadership which led to the successful and smooth transformation of Liberia to a peaceful multi-party democracy.
"The late Chairman Bryant was always grateful to the people of Liberia for choosing him, a businessman, to steward Liberia during a fragile transitional period. As we observe his passing, may we all continue to celebrate the Late Chairman Bryant's legacy by doing all we can to maintain peace and tranquility in Liberia." The family noticeably omitted the government from delivery tributes at Bryant's wake and funeral.
"The People of Liberia, the International Community, including the United Nations, the African Union, and ECOWAS may pay tributes at the wake keeping on Friday May 9th, 2014. In keeping with church tradition and norms, only the family and Church will give tributes at the Funeral on Saturday, May 10th, 2014."
On Thursday, Minister Brown said that the government was taken aback at the family's decision. "We have read and are concerned, like all of you, like all Liberians about announcements effectively indicating that the government will have no part to play.
He deserves a place in Liberia's history. I know, people have called and talked about what may or may not have happened. I am not ready to get into what may or may not have happened. I am at a point where I want to talk about his place in history."
Continued Minister Brown: "Sometimes we do not understand - or sometimes, filled with emotions, we so forget that the state performance of its function is an obligation. All citizens of this republic are not entitled by right, to state funerals. It is a privilege; it is a mode of expression of gratitude from the people to an individual for the service they performed. And so when the state performs funeral rites, including - which I will get into, the publication of official gazettes, the shrining fo the national ensigns on the casket, it is not to honor the government, it is to honor the service of the person who has died. An official gazette does not honor the writers of the gazette, it does not honor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it does not honor the Ministry of Information, it does not honor the government. It is an indelible point of reference."
According to the Liberia information Minister, the government intervention to give the former statesman a state burial is not for government to seek glory but to honor the service of the former statesman.
Brown said: "Nobody should take that from us, that is how the Liberian people speak, it is not because it honors the government, but because it honors Chairman Bryant services to this country he deserves a special place in our history". Brown continued: "Do not erase Charles memory, do not erase his service to his country, honor him as he deserves to be treated."
At the Information Ministry regular press briefing Thursday he cautioned the government and the citizens to always try to do everything to honor their past leaders despite the situation.