Liberia’s Suspended Information Minister Resigns
Story originally published on Ceasefire Liberia
By: Our Staff Reporter
The suspended Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Dr. Laurence Bropleh, who has been at the center of an over US$300,000 financial scandal at the Ministry announced his resignation late Friday.
Dr. Bropleh’s resignation came in the wake of a draft audit report from the General Auditing Commission (GAC) of Liberia who recommended that he pay back over US$200,000 of that amount for which the draft audit report held him liable for.
The former government spokesperson and two of the Ministry’s financial officials were immediately suspended by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf following a revelation that there were ghost names on the Ministry’s Foreign Service payroll.
The draft audit report recommended that the two financial officials, the Comptroller and the Accountant, be suspended.
Over the course of four months, two separate investigations were conducted by the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the Ministry of Justice. An audit report was immediately ordered to be conducted on the Ministry as well.
Dr. Bropleh has since denied his involvement in the scandal and termed the draft audit report ‘incompetent’ and one that was based on bias by Auditor General John S. Morlu, II.
He said his resignation is not based on any coercion but he decided to step aside to fully take the GAC to task in defense of his personal character.
“As I move to provide the appropriate defenses to the array of misconceptions, false interpretations and clear fabrications concocted by Mr. Morlu and his General Auditing Commission, I shall without coercion, voluntarily resign as of this pronouncement by virtue of my dedication to the people of this country and the values and principles that must govern public service practice”, the former Minister said in a statement.
Former Minister Bropleh said his resignation will provide him the required scope to mount an effective defense in clearing, according to him, “not just my name but restoring quickly the momentary lapses that has caused my integrity and that of the image of this government”.
He promised to submit in the coming days a comprehensive technical analysis of the John Morlu Draft Audit Report for the public to understand and appreciate what he calls the flaws, inconsistencies and mere fabrications put together simply out of envy.
Below is the full text of Dr. Laurence Bropleh’s resignation speech as Minister of Information of the Republic of Liberia.
January 15, 2010
Good Afternoon my fellow Liberians and friends of Liberia
Over the last four months, we have been at the center of both a criminal investigation into allegations of fraud and malpractice and a forensic audit of the payroll of the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism(MICAT). Both the investigation and politically motivated audit were announced as I was representing our beloved country as Vice President of the Steering Committee for the World Expo 2010 in China- the first African ever to be elected to such position within the history of the World Expo.
My official assignment was prematurely terminated as I was recalled and suspended indefinitely by the President of the Republic of Liberia, H.E. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, pending the outcome of a criminal investigation launched by the Ministry of Justice and the audit initiated in my absence by the General Auditing Commission.
I recalled these events leading to an agonizing four months waiting for my accusers to provide evidence for primarily two reasons. First, I reflected on the ultimate decision I took in resigning my post serving as Permanent Representative to the United Nations for the World Council of Churches in new York and Geneva to take up this assignment when Liberia was basically saddled by corruption, a broken international reputation and virtual collapse of the entire gamut of our socio-political system.
I took this assignment bearing in mind that Liberians won’t be able to repair the wanton damages inflicted on our governance structures, infrastructure, education and social systems and international reputation by staying out of the country and criticizing the status quo. Development in my understanding would have been accomplished or achieved by Liberians residing abroad agreeing to render services to their country. It was solely based on this premise that I chose to accept the offer from the President of Liberia, to serve as her Minister of Information at a time when our national image and pride was severely battered both at home and abroad.
The second and equally compelling reason for this recollection was my conviction then and now, that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s leadership provided the best platform and strategy for national recovery and renewal. Her impeccable record of public service, astute and ingenious leadership credentials were sufficient assurances for the birth of a new Liberia, which we had all dreamed and longed for in decades.
From that moment up until now, I vowed to protect, promote and defend the works and policies of this administration in fulfillment of my commitment to national service and my duty to country and people. The image of this country before I rose to the helm at the Ministry of Information, compared with the changing complexion of our national identity in recent years, attest to the hard work, vision, dynamism an drive we engineered when we assumed the mantle of spokesmanship.
Liberians abroad and at home can fairly attest to the rapid swell in recognition our country has gained by and through our branding and visibility strategies and efforts. This, we must note and insist with emphasis, was not accomplished alone. Many of our civil servants within MICAT, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at our various embassies helped substantially in providing the leap toward image reconstruction. To them we are very grateful.
But I also was fully cognizant that coming home and contributing constructively with political innocence would be at a price. I knew would be sacrifices, and as I prayed about the decision to return to my home country and give to the various communities that helped to shape me, I braised myself for the unforeseen . And indeed the unforeseen was felt drastically when evil persons set my home ablaze a little over a year, destroying everything I ever worked for around the world except the clothes I wore when I left my home.
I recall it so vividly because it was the day after Christmas and, on Christmas day, while celebrating the birth of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with several Imams and friends from the Muslim community, I received a text message that reminded me that I was protecting and making to look good a president they did not like and that I would pay the ultimate price. This did not deter me as some would have loved, for when I accepted to serve this government and this President; I knew that there would be crucifixions. But as an imperfect individual who believes in and submits to the rubric of the sufficiency of God’s grace, I fortitudinally affirm that empower our young people and old alike with a new understanding of how we must live together as a people, seeking to transform our minds and attitudes for the new Liberia, I see a resurrection in the horizon.
I will for the last time publicly state that I am innocent and I have been implicated in this scandal out of mere, petty and obvious peer envy. Till the case reaches its finality, I will submit to whatever process including judicial proceedings to ensure I prove my innocence and shame my detractors and those bent on destroying the image of the state and the reputation of this government. As I have indicated time and again, the current audit and the unprofessional nature of its conducts are clear indications of a ruthless desire to dent and undermine the gains made by the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration since in fact the draft report is both wanting in substance and in facts.
As I move to provide the appropriate defenses to the array of misconceptions, false interpretations and clear fabrications concocted by Mr. Morlu and his General Auditing Commission, I shall without coercion, voluntarily resign as of this pronouncement by virtue of my dedication to the people of this country and the values and principles that must govern public service practice.
This I believe also will provide me the required latitude to mount an effective defense in clearing, not just my name but restoring quickly the momentary lapses that has caused my integrity and that of the image of this government.
Going forward, I will submit in the coming days a comprehensive technical analysis of the John Morlu Draft Audit Report for the public to understand and appreciate the flaws, inconsistencies and mere fabrications put together simply out of envy.
This delay retaliation on the part of Mr. Morlu as mentioned in previous press conferences, stemmed from the misguided corruption comparison comments he made intended to demean this government and our president and his scuffle with security personnel at the Roberts International Airport. Both times, as government spokesman, I challenged Mr. Morlu to not make statements without the facts and as a public servant; he must adhere to the rule of law. He did not take this kindly and is on record condemning me. This is why I have said emphatically that if a professional, Mr. Morlu should have recused himself from the audit at the MICAT because he had already formed a bias.
I came to the position of Information Ministre quite conscious that in a society recently made democratic was challenging because not clearly articulating and disseminating the information of government in the context of a democratic society could lead to a cacophony of misconception and misinformation, which I believe, is counterproductive to our efforts to building a democracy.
I have always held that as a nation, we have succeeded in transforming to democracy. But it appears that we have not succeeded in changing some of our ways and attitudes necessary to appreciating the opportunities that come with living in such a society.
Unless we change the way we perceive politics, the manner we think of government, the way we interact with our neighbor down the road, the benefits that come with living in a democratic society will so often be lost by the trivial and frivolous issues that tend to divide us as a nation. So, as I believe then and now, we need to experience something of a renaissance that will spread all across the length and breadth of our society, inspiring our fellow citizens to lay aside our pedestrian and mundane political, social, cultural and ethnic differences and embrace a more noble class of working in tandem as a people interested in changing our nation positively.
Hence, I commit myself even more now, to continue the Liberian Renaissance: Changing Minds; Changing Attitudes; a social campaign that has caught on like wild fire throughout our nation and is showing real and pragmatic change for the betterment of our nation. We will continue to inspire and motivate our young and old alike, taking this campaign beyond the studio microphones and making our way to every village, every clan, every city, and every county, for if Liberia must truly become a stronger nation, Liberians must value each other, support each other and lift up each other to become wholesome functioning citizens. That is the only way we can lift Liberia
Finally, I would like to extend thanks and appreciation to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for the opportunity afforded me to render my services to our people by my servant leadership in her government in the last few years. For this, I am and will remain grateful. I would also like to thank my family for their support, and the friends who have stuck by me during this time momentary diversion. I am grateful to the Liberian media for working with us to advance our development agenda and the image of Liberia. As we prepare to take on this ploy against our person, we will also remain active in commenting on issues of national concern bordering on the development and sustenance of our democracy and running of government.
May God bless the President of the Republic of Liberia, the Liberian people everywhere; and bless my colleagues at the Ministry of Information and throughout the government, with whom I have enjoyed working.
Tags: Audit , Ceasefire Liberia , Information Minister , John S. Morlu , Laurence Bropleh , Liberia , Liberia National Police , MICAT , Ministry Of Justice
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