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CENTAL welcomes Ombudsman, but

Integrity watch institution, Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia, applauds President Boakai’s appointment of an ombudsman but wants the nominee to come with a clean hand.

Monrovia, Liberia, April 16, 2024—The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia, or CENTAL, says President Joseph Nyuma Boakai’s recent appointment of renowned lawyer Cllr. Findley Karnga to head the ombudsman’s office is a big boost in the fight against corruption in Liberia.

“Considering the failure of past administrations to ensure the Office of Ombudsman is functional despite flagrant abuses of the Code of Conduct, CENTAL believes that the step by President Boakai, if followed to proper fruition, would represent a capstone in the country’s anticorruption endeavors”

CENTAL Executive Director Anderson Miamen made the statement in a news conference at his office in Monrovia recently.

He said President Boakai’s nomination aligns with Part XII of the Code of Conduct, approved on March 31, 2014, which established the Office of Ombudsman as an autonomous body responsible for enforcing, overseeing, monitoring, and evaluating adherence to the Code of Conduct. 

Mr. Miamen recalled that, in previous statements, CENTAL encouraged President Boakai to appoint the ombudsperson, as said office is critical to ensuring compliance with the Code of Conduct, which sets out standards of behavior and conduct for public officials and employees.

The CENTAL Boss also disclosed that he has read with keen interest reports in some local dailies, alleging that Cllr. Findley Karnga holds loyalty to the Unity Party Alliance, which brought President Boakai to the Presidency.

 “While we cannot independently verify the veracity of the allegations, we would like to register that allegations of such levied against an individual designated to occupy a role as critical as ombudsperson is concerning,” he noted.

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He encouraged President Boakai to consider competitive recruitment processes in the future employment of individuals to critical roles, including institutions clothed with the authority to promote integrity and the fight against corruption.

 According to him, transparent recruitment minimizes the likelihood that persons with questionable independence, competence, and credibility surface in public offices.

He added that if such a mechanism had been employed, the current situation regarding the President’s nominee to the Ombudsman would have been avoided. 

“We must note that open and competitive vetting processes with participation of civil society, government, and other relevant stakeholders have now become the standard for recruitment to integrity institutions, even where the law does not explicitly require.”

Miamen urged the government, through the Executive and Legislative branches, to ensure that, building upon the Code of Conduct, legislation is passed clearly carving out the structure of the Office of Ombudsman, qualifications, and recruitment procedures, as well as providing for tenure, financial autonomy, and gender representation. 

According to him, the Code of Conduct is scanty regarding the composition of the Ombudsman and other key elements described above.

 Accordingly, he said CENTAL believes that appointments under the current law can only suffice as a stop-gap measure until the Office of the Ombudsman is properly established and has all necessary insulations to truly equate it as an independent integrity institution.

At the same time, he said the Office of the Ombudsman is adequately supported through the national budget, as there is no such support in the draft 2024 national budget currently before the Legislature for review and passage into law. 

“We also want to urge Cllr. Findely and his would-be team and co-workers to lead by example in terms of fully complying with the Code of Conduct for Public Officials and other relevant laws and policies,” he added. He admonished them to be independent, fair, efficient, and effective in carrying out their functions as they serve in this very important capacity.

CENTAL reiterated its commitment to work with diverse stakeholders and partners to meaningfully support national efforts to fight against corruption and promote and mainstream the culture of integrity and accountability in Liberia across all sectors and institutions.

Miamen called on Liberians to commend and appreciate their leaders, where necessary, while cautioning against settling for mediocrity or pettiness.

He said Liberians should demand high standards and performance from their national and local leaders, especially in line with established laws, their mandates, and their commitments to citizens before, during, and after elections. Press Release   

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