‘STILL IN CHARGE’: Amos C. Sawyer Denies Quit From Governance Commission

STILL IN CHARGE’: Amos C. Sawyer Denies Quit From Governance Commission

Reporter Samwar S. Fallah can be reached at sfallah@FrontPageAfrica.com or 077-920-058

01/29/2010 Monrovia
After months of speculations in Liberia that he has resigned his post and is now permanently residing in the United States of America , former interim leader of Liberia , Dr. Amos C. Sawyer head of the Governance Commission (GC) of Liberia says he is still in charge at the commission and is pleased with the reforms the commission is proposing for Liberia.

Sawyer told a news conference Thursday that the GC has made significant improvements in its recommendations about the overall governance structure, laws and other reform processes of Liberia, which he said are needed for good governance.

“The comprehensive Peace agreement signed in Accra in 2003 recognized that governance flaws were a substantial contributor to the breakdown of our institutions of governance and to violent conflict, this we are working to address”, Dr. Sawyer declared.

According to him, based on a memorandum signed between the Indiana University and Liberia which now making the United States of America university to assist the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia, he is expected to lecture at Indiana three times a year.

“I am at Indiana University, the arrangement with the President was that Indiana University will provide the support both for the work we have been doing in a number of areas and mine own work at Indiana University is that three times a year I will provide three lectures at Indiana University”, Dr. Sawyer expressed.

Amongst the reforms, he outlined the establishment and launch of the Land Reform Commission and the mobilization of about US$10million for the work of the new commission that is expected to look at complex issues of land causing confusions in post war Liberia.

A draft National Policy on decentralization, Dr. Sawyer disclosed has been forwarded to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, adopted by the Cabinet and is expected to be submitted to the National Legislature for ratification.

The decentralization policy, Dr. Sawyer indicated will be taken to the Liberian people through referendum. The GC, Dr. Sawyer said will work with the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission for the passage of the code of conduct and will also work with the General Auditing Commission to build strong integrity.

“We going to work in close collaboration with the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission and civil society organizations to ensure the passage into law of the code of conduct for public servants”, Dr. Sawyer stated.

He furthered that the GC will intensify collaboration with the GAC and others in developing a strong system of public integrity.

“Through this collaboration we are looking at various audit reports and where the Auditor General has determined that there are institutional flaws such as faulty laws and governance institutional procedures and arrangements that compromises the integrity of public sector agencies, we will be making recommendations and where necessary revision of laws to correct these flaws”, the GC Chairman explained.

A constitutional review Task Force, Dr. Sawyer said is now in the process of getting fully operational to coordinate the management and processing of the various reforms measures that require constitutional amendment.

Lamenting low compensation

Dr. Sawyer lamented that he and other commissioners of the GC are making sacrifices for the upkeep of the commission and their salaries do not commensurate with their professional experiences and level of work as compared to the big budgets of other commissions in Liberia.

“We have the perennial challenge that all other agencies have, resources, we are short change, our people are poorly paid. This commission as far as compensation is concerned, remuneration go and look at the national budget, we are amongst the lowest paid for the quality of work we do here and for the kinds of things we do”, Dr. Sawyer expressed.

The GC Chairman said the commission launched the Land Commission, Anti Corruption Commission and the Law Reform Commission but the budgets of those commissions are higher than the GC.

“Go and look at the budgets of those commissions and look at ours. Look at the pay that commissioners there get and look at ours”, Dr. Sawyer outlined.

No hands in TRC’s Report

Dr. Sawyer said he did not play any role in the preparation of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia as has been speculated. “There is no truth in the rumor that I had an input in the formulation of the report of the TRC”, Dr. Sawyer declared.

He said during a visit to President Sirleaf the question about the mandate of the TRC and how its report will be carried forward to form part of the commission was brought out and he and other GC commissioners visited the TRC on the eve of the release of its report and discussed with them.

“We visited the TRC along with other commissioners of the GC to talk with the commissioners but they were far with the writing of their report actually on the eve of the release of their report so we left them”, he explained.

Dr. Sawyer continued “for those who perhaps saw us coming out of that building, a day before, they figured out that our purpose there was to tell them what to do. But that was far from the truth”.

On Ellen 2nd term Bid.

In the aftermath of the declaration by President Sirleaf that she is contesting for a second term of office, Dr. Sawyer says he believes that Liberia is developing a vibrant political system. “Our electoral democracy is growing strong, the last time, we had 22 candidates contesting to become president and ultimately having runoff that had two candidates. When at this time, we can have people declaring their intentions and going about freely and the public can vote for candidates and retire some and reelect others, that is a sign of a growing democracy”, Dr. Sawyer stated.

President Sirleaf, he said is a citizen of Liberia and if she elects to run for office, she has the right to do so. “The president is a citizen of this country; she elects to run for office, she has the right to do so, so it is not for me to say she is not supposed to run for office. She is president and she says she will run for second term and I think it is her constitutional right to do so”, Dr. Sawyer noted.

Reporter Samwar S. Fallah can be reached at sfallah@FrontPageAfrica.com or 077-920-058

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