Monrovia — Liberia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gbarzongar Milton Findley has for the first time publicly spoken about the passport issue involving the country's embattled Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Isaac Jackson.
Minister Findley, speaking on a radio talk show in Monrovia, disclosed that Mr. Jackson is not an ambassador and cannot be given a diplomatic passport.
"I don't know if Isaac Jackson is an ambassador; what I know is that he works for the IMO and he's a Liberian - who is entitled to a Liberian passport," Minister Findley said.
There has been a serious controversy between Liberia's embattled representative at the IMO and the Liberian government over passport issues.
Jackson had accused the government of denying him a diplomatic passport while he serves at the IMO.
Jackson claims he is entitled to a diplomatic passport, and as such the government is under obligation to issue him a diplomatic passport.
He had since sent his passport to the Foreign Ministry for renewal when President George Weah appointed Moses Brown as his replacement at the IMO. Jackson challenged the President's decision to replace him at the court.
However, he has been requesting the return of his passport to no avail. But Foreign Minister Findley claims Jackson only deserves an ordinary Liberian passport, which he claims has been sent to him.
"As far the Foreign Ministry is concern, we have not denied anyone passport, not under my leadership," Findley said. "He [Jackson] applied for passport for he and his family and they got it."
Meanwhile, commenting on the welfare of diplomats at embassies around the world, the Minister said all ambassadors' salaries are paid on time.
He disclosed that the salaries harmonization that affected senior government officials did not affect salaries of staffers at various Liberian embassies.
At the same time, Minister Findley denied reports that Liberia is not being supported by America, China, and other great nations.
"It is false and misleading, under my leadership, I have gone to Washington three times, the United States continue to support Liberia; China continues to support Liberia. Those who are saying that we do not have good standing with superpowers are saying that because of political reasons," he said.
"I encourage them to come to the Ministry - if anyone wants to know anything about the foreign service, they will get the clarity they want."
He also encouraged Liberians in the diaspora to take advantage of diplomatic services at embassy in the country they reside.
"If any of our citizens lost their passport they can proceed to the Liberian Embassy in that country they are residing with a police report and it will take two to three weeks to get your passport," he disclosed, adding that Liberian embassies around the world are there to make Liberians feel at home while outside the country.
He was quick to clarify that the process of renewing passports cannot be done online due to security reasons.
"Our system is not setup for online because we want to reduce the duplication of our passport," he noted.