The Liberian Senate has halted the confirmation hearing of Foreign Minister – Designate Amb. Dee-Maxwell SaahKemayah, and has instead, launched an investigation into claims that the presidential appointee allegedly sexually harassed a female diplomatic staff Wynee Cummings Wilson at Liberia’s UN Mission in the United States of America.
The Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations is investigating the allegation levied by Madam Cummings Wilson against Amb. Kemayah at a time recent anti – rape protests appear to put Liberia on high alert on rape and other sexual gender – based violence (SGBV) – related offenses.
President George Manneh Weah on 11 September declared the scourge rape a national emergency, roughly two weeks after mass anti – rape protests were held in three successive days here, attracting women, men and children from all walks of life, including former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf.
Under the National Rape Emergency, President Weah also announced an unnamed Special Prosecutor for rape as well as the setting up of a National Sex Offender Registry.
Before Mr. Kemayah’s Senate confirmation hearing could begin Monday, the grounds of the Capitol were seen with different groups holding placards, commending President George Manneh Weah for appointing Kemayah to the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Among the group of Liberians holding placards to thank the president were the Federation of Liberian Youth which had placards with inscriptions expressing thanks to Mr. Weah and calling on the Senate to confirm Mr. Kemayah.
Meanwhile, a group of women that came out against the confirmation of Mr. Kemayah on the basis of the allegation made against him by Madam Wilson were not allowed to access the premises, though their rival groups were allowed.
During Kemayah’s appearance before the Senate, Grand Bassa County Senator NyonbleeKangar – Lawrence said the confirmation hearing should be halted.
According to her, she voted earlier for the nominee to be confirmed when he was appointed Assistant Minister for Administration at the Foreign Ministry and also as the Special Representative at the United Nations.
Senator Lawrence also notes that nominee Kemayah is qualified for the position of Foreign Minister, however she thinks the position is an integrity position and anyone who holds it should be free from every allegation.
She suggests that his confirmation be halted until the investigation is done in order to save the nominee’s reputation.
Also speaking, Senator CommanyWesseh of River Gee County says the Senate needs to make sure that the person Liberia has out there as Foreign Minister is the legitimate person to represent the people of Liberia.
He adds that there were many nominations made by the president, and some of them were withdrawn by the president, yet those nominees remained in offices that they occupied previously why issues raised against them still remained unanswered.
The River Gee Senator notes that the Executive needs to take into consideration some comments that come out when nominees appear before the Senate for confirmation. However, he says the confirmation hearing should be given due diligence. “I don’t want any sentiments to tie us, I don’t want us to hear things that are untested,” Senator Wesseh says.
He urges that the Senate should stand for justice, noting that in standing for justice, it is to pursue the truth and stand by it. Wesseh continues that there should be no false accusation and those accused, when found guilty should bear the penalties for their action.
“I Commany B. Wesseh have stood for justice all my life and my political life will ensure that justice is done in this particular case,” he affirms.
He indicates that the Senate Committee has some concerns that were brought before it, noting it will do a thorough job at it and pursue the truth and give justice without sentiments.
By Ethel A. Tweh–Edited by Winston W. Parley