Foreign Diplomats Unhappy
Foreign diplomats in Liberia have expressed disgust about numerous challenges confronting their activities here due to poor protocol.
At their meeting with Liberia’s Foreign Minister Augustine K. Ngafuan in Monrovia Thursday the first since he took office early this year, Guinean Ambassador to Liberia and Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps Abdoulaye Dore said officers of the Liberia National Police have begun to stop diplomatic vehicles in the traffic, while outlining the recurrent problem with diplomatic plates issued by the Government of Liberia.
Ambassador Dore said most often, officials of diplomatic missions accredited to Liberia face difficulties at the country’s airports, noting that even their identification cards are not accepted by airport authorities.
The Guinean envoy said on many occasions, they have requested for the official transport directory and email addresses of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its officials, but it is difficult to obtain the information.
Citing one instance, the Doyen of the diplomatic corps stressed that it is almost impossible for him as Ambassador of the Republic of Guinea to speak with an assistant minister in charge of African Affairs even when it has to do with passing on useful information.
Worse still, the diplomats complained that sometimes when they appeared at state functions, protocol staff, who don’t fit within the cycle and who don’t know them posed problems until other protocol personnel, will recognize them, intervene and usher them in. The Ambassador told Minister Ngafuan, “I know your staff workers, but they don’t know me because I am the dean.”
On behalf of members of the diplomatic corps in Liberia, he then appealed to Minister Ngafuan to improve the quality of services being provided by protocol officers, and to also extend his helping hands to other ministerial departments to fit within the protocol. Ambassador Dore also appealed for the reopening of the diplomatic duty freed shop as it is done in all other countries.
Responding, Minister Nguafuan acknowledged that the capacity challenge at the Foreign Ministry is greater than at some of the previous institutions he served during President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s first term, including the former Budget Bureau and the Finance Ministry.
He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a long way to go on capacity building, and requested the diplomats for their assistance in the process, adding “a capacitated Foreign Ministry helps make things easier for diplomats and make the country more responsive.”
The Foreign Minister however assured the diplomats that their license plates are ready and can be obtained upon official request. He said despite the challenges outlined, the ministry will work along with the diplomats to address those concerns.
Minister Ngafuan said steps will be taken to re-orientate the Ministry of Foreign Affairs generally, and to work with Liberia’s Foreign Missions internationally to link them up with government ministries.