Liberia's Addis Embassy to be Evicted

The Perspective
March 26, 2001

The Liberian embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, may soon be operating from the streets due to $200,000 rent arrears owed within nine years. The landlord of the building has reportedly lost patience and is fed-up with unfulfilled promises of payment.

Sources say the embassy will be closed down forcibly on the 30th of March. Ethiopia's Ministry of Housing has given the Liberian ambassador notice of forced eviction, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of the Government of Ethiopia, has said it cannot interfere where private rent is unpaid. Belongings of embassy staff would be put out on the street, sources say.

Sources say embassy officials have been receiving promises from President Taylor himself, but that these promises have been unfulfilled. Officials say closure will only be averted if half of the rent is paid, which is unlikely as other Liberian embassies, ignored for years, face the similar problem. Sometime back, light and water just have been cutoff, forcing staff to live and work in darkness.

At the secretariat of the Organization of African Unity, our sources say Liberia is on a list of nine countries unable to make payment in dues for years. Thus the country has lost voting rights within the OAU, and its nationals cannot be hired on fulltime basis except on contractual terms, sources say.

The country's foreign service is in disarray. Liberia's UN mission and consulate in New York operated in darkness for months and without basic facilities such as water and telephone. Taylor's first ambassador to Washington resigned, Mrs. Rachel Gbenyon-Diggs, citing America's failure to bankroll the regime as one of her reasons for quitting the job. The Washington embassy remains in derelict condition, with workers unpaid for several months. Its embassy in The Gambia is now running at the ambassador's home due to arrears in rent payment. In Ghana, the embassy has been relocated into a warehouse, evicted from its once plush building.

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