Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan has begun the latest senior government official here to tender in his letter of resignation following Agriculture Minister Florence Chenoweth as the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf regime wines down the clock.
Former Public Works Minister Kofi Woods and Justice Minister Christiana Tah were the first two officials to have tendered in their resignations earlier. Ngafuan in a statement issued Friday said his move was in compliance with the new code of conduct for public officials seeking elective positions.
The outgoing foreign minister has made it repeatedly clear that he would be an active player in the 2017 presidential and general elections. The Act says all officials appointed by the President shall not engage in political activities, canvass or contest for elected office; serve on a campaign team of any political party, or the campaign of any independent candidate.
The Act further says any official who desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post at least two years prior to the date of such public elections. He says his decision at this time is to ensure that he abides by the code of ethics saying if he does not quit at least two years prior to the elections, the law would render him inactive.
He says, he does not concur fully with some of the provisions cited as basis for his resignation, but he did so as law-abiding citizen. “I have therefore determined that my continued service in the Government in the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs will have the net effect of legally making me politically inactive, an outcome that conflicts with my intention for the future,” Mr. Ngafuan added.
“Consistent with the outcome of my reflection and consultations, I made it unequivocally clear about two years ago that I did not intend to be inactive in the 2017 Presidential and General Elections, which depending on how it pans out, will determine whether our country will progress or retrogress,” Ngafuan said in his resignation dated 2 October.
Though Ngafuan expressed his desire to keep his political options open, he may likely be bracing to go into the political fight for support from his kinsmen against his Kissi “Uncle” Vice President Joseph N. Boakai who had earlier been petitioned for the Presidency in Lofa.
Ngafuan served for a decade in the Sirleaf led-administration, starting as Budget Director, Minister of Finance, and lastly Dean of the Cabinet and Minister of Foreign Affairs. He ordered the investigation into the controversial Japan Grant that has dragged some of his top deputies and officials into an alleged corruption probe.
Ngafuan’s resignation letter says he will remain in office until October 10, a time which he is expected to return with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf from a long trip in the United States. The president is said to have accepted his resignation.
He says he took the decision after deeply reflecting on the challenges ahead and what contributions he can possibly make as Liberia braces itself for a democratic transition in 2018. He said he has had a frank and cordial discussion with President Sirleaf on the rationale of his decision, and she has gracefully accepted same.
“On behalf of my family, friends, and well-wishers, I extended to President Sirleaf my deepest gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity afforded me to serve my country in the capacities of Budget Director, Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Dean of the Cabinet,” he noted. -Edited by Othello B. Garblah