President of Liberia Suspends Son in Anti-Corruption Push
PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The first woman president in Africa, Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, is making headlines on the continent this week for suspending her own son in a push to tackle systemic corruption in her country.
Charles Sirleaf, a central bank deputy governor, is among 46 government officials suspended for not disclosing their assets to an anti-corruption commission. He is one of three of Johnson-Sirleaf’s sons appointed to government posts.
“Let it be known that the president is very serious, and she is now contemplating a series of punitive measures that will be ranging from withholding pay, suspension, and probably dismissals for those who do not cooperate,” presidential press secretary Jerolinmick Piah told Liberia’s Daily Observer.
In March, President Johnson-Sirleaf issued an executive order requiring all presidential appointees to declare their assets to Liberia’s Anti-Corruption Commission. According to a statement released to the media Tuesday, Johnson-Sirleaf said the 46 officials she immediately suspended could be reinstated only after she has confirmation from the commission that they have complied.
Analysts say widespread corruption in Liberia is interfering with the West African country’s economic development, keeping people in poverty despite Liberia’s rich mineral resources. Since she was elected president in 2005, Johnson-Sirleaf has repeatedly pledged to take on the deep-seated corruption. In 2010 the U.S. government’s Country Report on Human Rights said corruption was prevalent in all levels of Liberian society, in public and private sectors.
Johnson-Sirleaf was elected to a second term late last year. She was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to bring about and maintain peace in the country after a devastating 14-year civil war.
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