9 March 2017

Liberia: Pres. Sirleaf Urges Liberian Diplomats to Continue Good Work

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says one main reason for holding a two-day retreat for the heads of the 25 diplomatic and consular missions is to thank them for their service to Liberia.

She also urged them to continue to serve the country and contribute to the immense progress her administration has made over the years.

The Liberian leader emphasized is that diplomats, as career civil servants that would be absorbed by the succeeding administration, there are certain fundamentals and foundations put in place so that anybody who succeeds this administration will want to build upon.

"As career civil servants coming together to exchange views and talk to relevant ministers and heads of agencies of government, it's an opportunity to be more informed about our accomplishments, challenges and our potential going forward, while these ministers and heads of agencies also learn from you," she said.

President Sirleaf indicated that as heads of diplomatic and consular missions and part of the continuity, it is necessary that they meet to improve and carry on those policies that the new administration might suggest; but more importantly, to ensure that the country's interests remain paramount.

According to a Foreign Ministry release, the Liberian leader made the assertion when she addressed the opening of a two-day retreat of Liberian ambassadors and heads of diplomatic missions at a local hotel in Paynesville City on Thursday, March 9.

The retreat, which ends on Friday, March 10, has as its theme: "Promoting Liberia's Transformation Agenda Through the Liberian Foreign Service".

The Liberian leader indicated that as the country has a new Minister of Foreign Affairs, this was an opportunity to interact and get to know each other better.

She, however, cautioned that though there are only a few months left, this administration will continue to work until it transitions.

She admonished the Liberian diplomats to continue to explain government programs, policies, priorities and urged them to do more individually at their various posts.

Earlier, President Sirleaf called for a moment of silence for the homegoing of the late Ambassador Carlton Alexwyn Karpeh, former Senior Ambassador-at-Large and former Ambassador of Liberia to Cameroon.

He died on Tuesday, February 28, at his Duport Road residence, Paynesville.

In welcome remarks, Foreign Minister Marjon Kamara thanked President Sirleaf for the confidence she continues to repose in them to serve in her administration, especially as her emissaries abroad.

Ms. Kamara expressed her gratitude to Madam Sirleaf for gracing the opening of the retreat by her presence.

Minister Kamara, on behalf of her colleagues, said they continue to draw inspiration from the heights which Liberia has scaled in the last decade under President Sirleaf's leadership.

"We have seen post-conflict Liberia go from being selected to chair and co-chair the formulation of continental and global development agendas to its current position as Chair of ECOWAS for the first time," she noted, adding, "In addition, Liberia has again assumed the position of Secretary-General of the Mano River Union."

She said these successes have cascaded, bringing recognition, visibility and certainly a bit more work to all of them, including our Ambassadors who have taken on coordination and leadership responsibilities in their respective stations; paying deserving commendation to the all the Ambassadors and Heads of Missions for their commitment, creativity and resilience.

Touching on the retreat, Foreign Minister Kamara said the retreat is intended to deepen their understanding of the national policies priorities through the presentations of the heads of relevant ministries and agencies of Government.

"Beyond this learning we will strive to agree on practical terms for partnership and complementary support to accelerate the achievement of development objectives," she said.

Ms. Kamara indicated that Day Two of the retreat will be devoted to a review of internal operational and administrative processes and procedures. "Three key priorities were endorsed for the Ministry in 2014," she said, adding, "We will determine what can realistically be accomplished within the remaining months of the Administration and what will be left for a new government."

In remarks on behalf of his colleagues and heads of missions, Liberia's Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Mr. Jarjar Kamara said the retreat was timely, and was an opportune time that the Foreign Ministry provide a platform for determining viable strategies and options that foreign missions abroad can use to deepen engagements with host governments and the private sector.

He admonished his colleagues who are posted to consider themselves as "patriots".

"We should have love for Liberia and be willing to defend her at all cost. We should be men and women with personalities - the various aspects of a person's character that combine to make them different from other people; we should have the ability - a skill of competence in mental power, talent and aptitude," he said.

For his part, the chair on the House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Edwin Snowe, hoped that by the end of the retreat, Liberia would begin to see a foreign policy to begin to work with.

He hoped that the Foreign Service personnel will be adequately catered to and given the finances to handle the expenses they incur as diplomats in a foreign country.

This is the second time, during this administration, that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has invited the heads of Liberian diplomatic and consular missions to attend a retreat here in Monrovia. The first was six years ago, in August 2011.

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