7 January 2016

Liberia: Boakai's Transition Shake-Up - EJS Cabinet Changes Has 2017 Twist

Monrovia — President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's much criticized slow transition pace has step up a notch after pronouncement late Wednesday making some changes to her Cabinet in a bid to accommodate the request of her vice President, Joseph Boakai, whom she has given her blessing as a likely successor to her presidency.

FrontPageAfrica reported recently that the in the buildup to the 2017 presidential election, appointments in government are looking to be made on the basis of getting the best team appointed that will help Boakai's presidential bid.

The position has been key is the post of Minister of Internal Affairs that was made vacant after the dismissal of Morris Dukuly, a longtime ally of President Sirleaf.

Appointing a new Minister to head the Ministry of Internal Affairs that has oversight of local leaders in the country has been a key task for President Sirleaf who was facing of headache of naming a person that will build the needed rapport with traditional chiefs and elders around the country to help booster the Boakai presidential bid.

Sirleaf who only recently endorsed Boakai as her successor is now working along with other Unity Party officials to ensure the ruling party continues at the helm of power by placing individuals who will make the ultimate contributions to the Boakai presidency in 2017.

Brown Out; Nagbe in

Late Wednesday evening the Executive Mansion's latest appointment was heralded by the filling of the void at Internal Affairs with changes also made at the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Information, Culture & Tourism, Youth and Sports, Lands, Mines and Energy, Public Works, Transport, Post and Telecommunications, Independent National Commission on Human Rights, Public Procurement and Concessions Commission, Law Reform Commission, Executive Protection Service and the Judiciary.

Those appointed by the President included -Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Marjon Kamara, Minister Lewis G. Brown, Ambassador; J. Wesley Washington, Assistant Minister for Public Affairs. At the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Henrique Tokpah was appointed as Minister while at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Eugene Nagbe was named Minister replacing Lewis Brown.

Others appointed include: SaahN'Tow , Minister Independent National Commission on Human Rights, Mr. Adolphus Wade , Commissioner; Ms. Tonia Wiles , Commissioner; Mr. Wilfred Gray Johnson, Commissioner and Rev. Bartholomew Colley, Commissioner.

Appointments vs Boakai's presidential bid

With 2017 election less than two years away, Wednesday's appointments by the president look to be softening the ground by putting into office individuals that will help the Boakai's essential bid.

As reported by FrontPageAfrica recently, Sirleaf was reportedly leading toward appointing former President Pro Temp Gbehzongar Findley who lost his senatorial seat in Grand Bassa County to the Liberty Party candidate, Jonathan Kaipay in the 2014 special senatorial election. But sources told FrontPageAfrica that the vice president prevailed on President Sirleaf to name Dr. Henrique Tokpah, a former President of the Cuttington University as IA minister.

Dr. Tokpah surprised many in last year's senatorial elections, putting up a stiff fight against Senator Jewel Howard Taylor but was narrowly defeated in Bong County.

With Boakai looking to find more support from prominent individuals in counties such as Nimba, Bong, and Grand Bassa to augment whad is perceived to be his popularity in Lofa County, the Boakai camp is hoping that Dr. Tokpah ignite rural support for the VP.

It has been speculated that Boakai could be eyeing an ideal running mate from Bong County with sources pointing at a tense race between Dr. Tokpah and Liberia's Ambassador to the United States, Jeremiah Sulunteh.

The appointment of Dr. Tokpah looks to a move meant to ensure that Tokpah who is also popular in Bong County can extend his popularity beyond by using his position to reach out to locals across the country.

At the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism Eugene Nagbe who was one of lead individuals with the Unity party campaign in 2011 where he took on his former party, the Congress for Democratic Change in stinging propaganda,was named as Information minister replace, Brown.

Nagbe who was a senior member of the CDC resigned from the party and joined the Unity party taking on the task of breaking apart the CDC in series of muddy political debates. He was one of the main targets and was attacked with deadly weapons allegedly by some supports of the CDC.

Given Nagbe's strength in political campaigning due to his ability especially his loquacious charisma, some political observers say, his appointment comes as a boost to the Boakai's quest to become President as Nagbe is now well placed to repeat his 2011 feat for Boakai as he did for Sirleaf.

Nagbe is known in Liberia for quickly fitting into any new political arrangements as he served the Charles Taylor regime as a government official before becoming an influential member of the brief regime of former President Moses Z. Blah.

During the interim regime of Charles Gyude Bryant, Nagbe was named Minister of Post and telecommunications on the slot of the Taylor government.

When the Congress for Democratic Change was established ahead of the 2005 general and presidential election Nagbe quickly became a high-ranking member of the CDC before deflecting from the party in 2011.

After helping the Unity party through high level propaganda, Nagbe was first named Minister of Transport before moving to the Ministry of Youth and Sports as Minister from where he is now moving to the Ministry of Information.

Did Kpadeh Push Brown Out?

Ironically, prior to the new appointment at the Ministry of Information, Robert Kpadeh who now heads the group pushing for the election of Boakai was dismissed by President Sirleaf for what sources at the Ministry described as disagreement between Kpadeh and now outgoing Minister Brown.

At the Ministry of Youth and Sports that implements several youth programs, a kinsman of Vice President Boakai, SaahN'Tow has been appointed Minister, another appointment that is likely to suit the Boakai 2017 presidential bid.

As the 2017 draws bearer, President Sirleaf is likely to make more appointments in government in a bid to put the team Boakai for President Campaign in shape ahead of what is expected to be a rugged challenge.

There was another expected appointment at the Ministry of foreign Affairs, a long-time friend to the President Marjon Kamara has been appointed as Minister.

FrontPageAfrica few months ago reported that Kamara was poised to occupy the position following the resignation of Augustine Ngafuan.

Kamara who until her recent appointment served as Liberia's Representative to the United Nations was tipped to return home and take over as Minister and sources at the time hinted FPA that President Sirleaf prevailed on Ngafuan to accept a position at Central Bank of Liberia when the tenure of current Governor Mills Jones expires in March to pave the way for Kamara to become Minister.

Ngafuan is said to have rejected the offer and the feud with the President grew deeper when a conflict ensued between Ngafuan and Kamara during the last United Nations General Assembly.

Kamara is said to have denied Ngafuan's access pass to a major function at the UN which promoted an angry response from the Minister and contributed to his resignation although, he cited the Code of Conduct as a basis for leaving government.

Others appointed include: Lewis G. Brown, Ambassador; J. Wesley Washington, Assistant Minister for Public Affairs.

University Student Gets Job

At the Independent National Commission on Human Rights, Mr. Adolphus Wade was Commissioner, Ms. Tonia Wiles, Commissioner, Mr. Wilfred Gray, Johnson, Commissioner and Rev. Bartholomew Colley, Commissioner.

Mr. Joseph Howe was appointed Assistant Minister for Energy at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy and at the Law Reform Commission, Boakai Kanneh was appointed as Member

At the Public Procurement and Concession Commission Willie Belleh was appointed Chairman while Mr. John Ballout was appointed Member (Replacing Mr. Catakaw).

Kansualism B. Kansuah, a graduate of the United Methodist University and current Masters Degree candidate at the University of Liberia, was appointed Assistant Minister for Land and Rail Transport and at the Ministry of Public Works Edsel Smith, was named Assistant Minister for Construction.

At the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Abu Kamara, was named Assistant Minister for Administration while Ms. Rose Stryker, a former Deputy Police Director was appointed Assistant Director at the Executive Protective Services.

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