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IRIN Africa | West Africa | LIBERIA | LIBERIA: New president’s anti-corruption drive targets finance ministry | Democracy, Economy | Breaking News
Tuesday 21 February 2006
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LIBERIA: New president’s anti-corruption drive targets finance ministry

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

©  Claire Soares/IRIN

President Ellen Johnson-Sireaf gets tough on corruption

MONROVIA, 2 Feb 2006 (IRIN) - Liberia’s new president, “Iron Lady” Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has sacked every political appointee from the outgoing administration at the ministry of finance as part of her crackdown on corruption.

Initial reports that Sirleaf had sacked the entire finance ministry including civil servants were a result of “confusion”, said Presidential Press Secretary Spencer Browne in a statement late Thursday.

All finance ministry officials appointed by the outgoing transitional government have been sacked, clarified the statement, but civil servants will remain in place pending an investigation.

Sirleaf marched into the finance ministry unexpected on Wednesday when she reportedly dismissed “all staff” including civil servants without notice and announced that corruption investigations would to begin.

“You should have nothing to fear because if you pass the test, you will retain your position. But if you fail then you will disappear from the ministry,” Sirleaf said.

Sirleaf was sworn in as Africa’s first female president last month, entering office with a vow to tackle the rampant corruption that has blighted the country where people live in crushing poverty despite vast resources.

Liberia emerged from 14 yeas of civil war in 2003 and donors who have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to the country’s reconstruction want corruption wiped out.

Investigations into finance ministry staff will be carried out by former World Bank official and minister designate, Antoinette Sayeh, said Sirleaf herself, a trained economist.

In recent weeks, officials from the exiting transitional government have reportedly been stripping their offices of desks, computers and even carpets before handing over to their successors.

Earlier this week, Sirleaf condemned ministers who had changed the licence plates on their government-issued jeeps for private plates, warning that her administration will conduct an audit and that all government property must be returned.

Sirleaf’s war on graft won the nod of donors even before elections in October, when she declared her support for an internationally produced anti-corruption plan called the Governance and Economic Management Programme.

Under that programme international experts will be appointed as co-signatories in the Central Bank and five main revenue generating agencies: the National Port Authority, the Forestry Agency, the Bureau of Maritime Affairs, Robertsfield International Airport and the Petroleum Refining Corporation.


 Theme(s) Democracy
Other recent LIBERIA reports:

War-battered nation launches truth commission,  21/Feb/06

Crumbled system leaves suspects languishing in jails without trial,  20/Feb/06

Sirleaf starts to form government, some appointments spark protest,  14/Feb/06

Rubber plantation workers strike over conditions, pay, child labour,  10/Feb/06

Outgoing officials make off with the furniture,  30/Jan/06

Other recent Democracy & Governance reports:

ZIMBABWE: Mugabe delivers broadside to neighbours, 21/Feb/06

SYRIA: US funding offer for NGOs draws mixed reactions, 21/Feb/06

UGANDA: Official campaigns end two days before polls, 21/Feb/06

SOUTH AFRICA: Govt adopts more focused approach to help orphans, 21/Feb/06

ANGOLA: Ready to play larger security role in Africa, 21/Feb/06

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