Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former Political Prisoner, now Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has with immediate effect, imposed a ‘TRAVEL BAN’ on all of her Government officials, until otherwise order.
According to a Press Release from the Foreign Ministry/Executive Mansion which was widely broadcast by local, national and international media institutions, all those affected included Cabinet Ministers, Deputy and Assistant Ministers.
The release was quoted as saying the presidential ‘TRAVEL BAN’ takes effect as of Wednesday, August 1. The release says the ‘TRAVEL BAN’ will remain in full force and effect until the Liberian Legislature passes the 2012/2013 fiscal (annual) budget into law.
The ‘TRAVEL BAN’ according to the Press Release, ”was to ensure all Cabinet, Deputy and Assistant Ministers concentrate on the timely and efficient implementation of the Government’s development agenda.”
Interestingly however, moments after the Press Release was issued and widely broadcast, Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmek Piah, reportedly rushed to the state-owned radio station Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS), to deny the news.
Although nobody raised any issue, or questioned the authenticity of the Press Release, Secretary Piah categorically denied President Johnson-Sirleaf ever imposed a ‘TRAVEL BAN’ on any, or all of her government officials. The Press Secretary even denied ever writing the Press Release.
Political Analysts described as a bizarre damage control method apparently by President Johnson-Sirleaf, by sending her Press Secretary out there to categorically deny ever writing the Press Release which now appears to be causing so much controversy.
Observers say the questions that are now lingering on the minds of many Liberians are; who wrote the much talked about Press Release? Who has access to the President’s office to write Press Releases from there on her behalf, since her own Press Secretary has denied writing it?
However, in spite of all of this, the Presidential Spokesman went on to “clarify” that the decision to impose the ‘TRAVEL BAN’ was taken by the cabinet and not President Johnson-Sirleaf, as the media reported. Piah claimed emphatically.
What Political Observers are now questioning is whether or not Press Secretary Piah is suggesting that the Cabinet imposed the ‘TRAVEL BAN’ on itself? If so, is Mr. Piah also suggesting that after the Cabinet imposed the ‘TRAVEL BAN’ on itself, then it wrote its own Press Release from the President’s Office?
A Political Commetator who spoke on condition of anonymity analyzed that even if one were to agree for a moment for the sake of the argument that indeed the ‘TRAVEL BAN’ was imposed on the cabinet by itself and not by President Johnson-Sirleaf, then the questions that remained unanswered are as follows;
Whose cabinet is it? Who chairs the Cabinet? Who appointed the cabinet? What is the role of the cabinet? At whose will and pleasure does the cabinet function? Who does the cabinet advise? To whom does the Cabinet report? Is the Liberian cabinet functioning on its own now?
Press Secretary Piah also went as far as denying ever writing the Press Release in which it was announced that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had imposed a ‘TRAVEL BAN’ on all of her Government Officials.
Political Analysts are questioning why was it even necessary for the President’s office to deny its own Press Release when the release was in fact never challenged?
How can the Liberian People particularly the media ever trust any Press Release which comes from the President’s office after this dramatic and bizarre episode?
What is even more fishy about the Press Release, Political Analysts maintained, is its authenticity was never questioned by any of the media institutions which broadcast it, yet the President’s own Press Secretary took the initiative to do so, by denying ever writing it.
Another issue of concern surrounding the Press Release according to Analysts is, although it was never questioned, yet the President’s own Press Secretary took to the airwaves to challenge it, although all circumstances suggest the Press Release came from the President’s office as usual.
“It is very unfortunate for President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, herself a victim of past draconian dictatorships, to be imposing ‘TRAVEL BANS’ on fellow citizens outside of the judicial perimeters, simply because they agreed to provide public service.” Commented a Community Leader.
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