one-month Julius T. Jaesen, II
According to several reports, Liberia’s Foreign Service is challenged with less qualified staff, while the few with better qualifications have been under-placed. Over the last two years and nine months before the taking over of Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah as Minister on October 6, 2020, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under his predecessor has been tirelessly working to lead institutional reform in the country’s Foreign Service, and ensure those with the requisite qualifications already in the field are better placed and as well recruit more qualified Liberian professionals to address the huge capacity deficit already affecting the Foreign Service. So, when Minister Kemayah took over the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was expected that he would first seek to address the quagmire confronting our foreign missions.
It can be recalled before the ascendancy of Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah as Liberia’s Foreign Minister, some employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who grew up after several years from the position of office staff to desk officers and other key positions at the Ministry, were recruited, vetted and finally issued commission certificates for posting into Foreign Service. Those 17 persons were not just only employees with several years of working experience at the Ministry, but they are qualified men and women who hold master degrees from some of the world’s prestigious universities and as well spent nine months at the Liberia Foreign Service Institute and graduated with post-graduate diplomas as trained and seasoned Foreign Service officers. It can be recalled whilst the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning was about to respond to the budgetary request for the 17 persons to take leave to their respective destinations to serve our country in foreign lands, Min. Kemayah took over the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and immediately halted the entire budget request made to have the 17 professionals and seasoned diplomats assigned. To the dismay of all his deputies and those 17 persons already recruited, vetted and trained, Minister Kemayah retained only 4 persons out of the 17 and brought in a new list of people which included his wife, Mrs. Dialokai Gdanyan-Kemayah, Mrs. Caroline George, the wife of his pastor, who according to what Parrot has gathered, doesn’t have a high school paper, his in-laws and few unqualified partisans of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change amid the capacity challenge that has dogged our Foreign Service.
Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was a scene of drama when Kemayah unilaterally and usually in his authoritarian and arrogant posturing, dropped those professionals who were issued commission certificates approved by President George Weah and signed by his predecessor. Sadly, Min. Kemayah presented a new list of people who were never vetted and instructed his new batch of unqualified family members and partisans of the CDC to partake in a one month Foreign Service training at the Ministry before leaving for assignment. It is very disgusting on the part of Kemayah amid the lack of qualified Foreign Service officers at our missions to be getting rid of professional diplomatic officers from the field and bringing in untrained and unqualified partisans and family members to replace them.
According to a retired diplomat, such action on the part of Minister Kemayah has the potential to undermine Liberia’s Foreign Service integrity, as incoming government might remove partisans and loved ones with no skills placed by Kemayah after the CDC’s regime and replace them with another people similarly situated in the position of the untrained and unqualified people he has replaced with qualified professionals. This trend is a bad precedent Kemayah is setting.
No joke, this action on the part of Min. Kemayah will undermine every effort to lead institutional reform within Liberia’s Foreign Service, and address the capacity deficit and restore integrity in the field. President Weah must not sit and allow Kemayah to set a very bad precedent by flooding our foreign missions with unqualified people who have no background in political affairs, protocols, diplomacy and international relations. Those unqualified partisans and loved ones are only going to have our wage bills crowded up as they would deliver nothing substantive but instead, a burden to government.
It is a good thing to have Minister Kemayah’s wife, girlfriends, family members and partisans of the Coalition for Democratic Change empowered but not in a way that will hurt our Foreign Service integrity and lay Liberia bare at the peripheral of global politics.
Imagine those people recruited by Kemayah with no professional background and training in Foreign Service and international affairs, protocols and diplomacy coupled with no good work experience when holding talks with their counterparts in London, Germany, Paris, USA, Brussels and other countries with seasoned diplomats, what would they say? What will be the quality of their participation? Do they understand the diplomatic language and rudimentary? Is Kemayah’s so-called one month training sufficient to impact those lads who are said to have no knowledge in international affairs, protocols and diplomatic training? Those people Kemayah are training can be offered domestic jobs but not in the field of Foreign Service for now.
It is ridiculous nonsense on the part of Kemayah to drop those qualified men and women who were recruited, vetted and trained for months only to replace them with unqualified people. The saddest thing here is, they are going to occupy senior-level positions in Foreign Service as minister-counsellor, First Secretary etc even over those few qualified ones that are already at our missions but yet have been under-placed.
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