Liberia: Alja Applauds Weah's Choice for Agric Minister

-Condemns CBL Governor's ethnocentric comments

The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) has added its voice to many other voices from home and abroad, commending President George M. Weah for the recent appointment of Jeanine Cooper as a new Agriculture Minister--a move they believe indicates that the President is ready for a real change.

The appointment of Ms. Cooper, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Fabrar Liberia Incorporated, a local rice processing company, is being applauded across all sections of the Liberian political and ideological divides with many of the President's staunch critics and political rivals even unable to mount any reasonable criticism of his preferred choice that is to spearhead the nation's agricultural revolution.

ALJA says it hopes this appointment demonstrates the government's commitment to transforming the country's agricultural sector; and called for the allocation of needed resources to help spur a sector important to the overall growth and development of the country.

The Diaspora membership-based organization said it is pleased that the new Agriculture Minister underwent a rigorous vetting process and her preferment appeared to be based entirely on merit and qualification as opposed to her political allegiance.

In a statement issued on Thursday, January 22, 2019, ALJA said, "While it has been critical of some of the President's past appointees, it is particularly pleased that the new Agriculture Minister underwent a rigorous vetting process and her preferment appeared to be based entirely on merit and qualification as opposed to her political allegiance."

"Agriculture Minister-designate Cooper is not just an educated and well-disciplined professional; she is innovative, experienced, visionary and brings tremendous credibility, both professionally and character-wise. Besides, she is fundamentally tested and has a proven track record of real and genuine accomplishments.

"ALJA hopes that subsequent appointments in the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led administration would follow the same criteria used for Ms. Cooper's appointment, noting that Liberia belongs to all Liberians irrespective of political affiliations," the statement said.

ALJA president, Joe Mayson

ALJA called on the government to ensure that the nominee is allowed to perform her responsibilities void of undue political interference. The Association says if Liberia is to succeed in its quest for national development, provide needed basics services and uphold the rule of law for all Liberians, qualified Liberians from diverse backgrounds and orientations such as Ms. Cooper should be afforded the opportunity to serve.

The group also expressed some level of reservation over the potential conflict of interest, considering Ms. Cooper's role as a major player (farmer and rice processor) in the Agriculture sector as she assumes her role as Minister of Agriculture--with a mandate to play supervisory role of the sector.

"To avoid any such conflict, ALJA is calling on the Minister-designate to recuse herself from her personal business venture if confirmed by the Senate," the group said.

The Association believes that Ms. Cooper's recusal from her personal business venture would allay the potential conflict of interest apprehension, which has greeted her appointment.

In another development, ALJA says it is troubled by recent comments attributed to the new Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, J. Alloysius Tarlue. According to media reports, Mr. Tarlue says he believes his ascendancy to the position was not based on his educational background, but being a member of the Krahn ethnic group.

According to the Association, Mr. Tarlue, who reportedly made the remarks at a program organized by citizens hailing from Grand Gedeh, promised to hire Grand Gedeans at the Central Bank and work hard to ensure that another members of the Krahn ethnic group are appointed as Executive Governor of the CBL in the future.

ALJA described the Executive Governor's comments as misguided; and rejected the notion that a person's tribal affiliation should be one of the key factors informing decisions regarding hiring or appointments in government. The Association called on Liberians to eschew tribalistic tendencies that tend to divide the country.

Majority of President Weah's cabinet ministers and directors of agencies of government are from southeastern Liberia and dominantly members of the Kru and Krahn tribes.

ALJA is a conglomeration of practicing and retired Liberian journalists residing in the Americas. The Association was founded in 1998 in Washington, D.C. ALJA seeks to foster camaraderie, peace, and unity amongst its members and their American counterparts. The Association is also, dedicated to the advancement of good governance, free speech, and press freedom in Liberia.

As the appointment of Ms. Cooper is being hailed everywhere, many now desire that the President will continue on the trajectory of performance-based appointments. Some even want the President to overhaul his entire administration.

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