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Tragedy hits Liberian mission

Tragedy hitsSeveral Liberian envoys serving abroad are said to be in poor health as the death news of Liberia’s Ambassador to the Court of St. James, the United Kingdom, Rudolf von Ballmoos, hits the nation.

Among those reportedly ill is former Civil Service Director Dr. C. William Allen who is currently serving in Paris, France. The late Liberian diplomat had suffered serious kidney complications and subsequently lost one of his kidneys prior to his reported death. He was surviving on the remaining kidney, which also was 75 percent damaged, up to his eventual demise. 

Details are still emerging, but diplomatic sources at the Foreign Ministry in Monrovia have confided in this paper that ambassadors at many of the Liberian Missions abroad are faced with various health problems, including their family members, something which is being reportedly treated as a deep secret in the corridor of government.

The Minister Counsellor at the Liberian Embassy in Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria, SabatoWiah, died about four years ago under mysterious circumstances. The late Sabato was deployed to Nigeria during the administration of slain President Samuel Kanyon Doe in the 1980s thru the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism.

In line with a code of conduct legislated for public officials here, coupled with future political ambitions, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augustine KpeheNgafuan, tendered in his resignation three months ago.

Since his resignation early October, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is yet to find a suitable successor, and the ministry that is responsible to implement Liberia’s foreign policy in consultation with the President, as well as coordinate the various Missions abroad, is being run in transition.

“I have had a frank and cordial discussion with President Sirleaf on the rationale of my decision; and she has gracefully accepted my resignation. On behalf of my family, friends, and wellwishers, 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.

I have also assured the President that, to the extent consistent with law and to the extent that it would be needed, I remain committed, as a patriotic citizen, to lending my time, expertise and advice to the forward march of our dear country”, Ngafuan had said in a departing statement dated October 2, 2015.

Sources at the Foreign Ministry say potential successors to Ngafuan, who are residing abroad, may not be interested in returning home to take up the post due to health and other reasons, particularly the country’s current appalling health system.

Prior to his death, the late Ambassador Von Ballmoos had been reportedly linked to the sale of three properties belonging to the Government of Liberia, including the ambassador’s official residence on Trapps Lane, The Conifers in New Malden, Surrey England for almost 2 million pounds.

Properties allegedly sold included a three bedroom residence at 52 Whatley Avenue, Morden SW20 in Surrey, the Ambassador residence on Trapps Lane, The Conifer, New Malden, and 63 North End House, Fitzames Avenue, W14, London which was bought by Mr. George Cooper, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Liberia to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London.

But Von Ballmoos at the time, responded thru written communication, “I NEVER neither suggested nor recommended to Government that we dispose off or sell nor did I sell any properties belonging to the Government of Liberia in London. In fact, during that period, although we needed funds for the running of the Mission, I refused to even lease the Official Residence out pending the arrival of an Ambassador. Dr. Amos Sawyer and former Minister of Justice Banks are alive and I believe they can attest to that.”Story compiled

by Jonathan Browne

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