Confusion in Washington: Who Runs the Liberian Embassy (Part III)

By Abdoulaye W. Dukulé

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

December 20, 2003


"I am not aware of any letter of recall sent to Mr. Abdullah Dunbar and when we get back home, I will look into the issue and find out who wrote such a letter," the Minister of Foreign Affairs said when he spoke to us from Accra, Ghana where he was attending the annual ECOWAS Summit. The Minister was referring to two letters sent to Aaron Kollie at the Embassy of Liberia in Washington, D.C. regarding the confusion as to who is the Chargé d’Affairs at the Liberian embassy in Washington, D.C. The letters were dated December 15 and 16, 2003.

The Deputy and Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abel Massaley, signed the two letters. In the first letter, the Acting Minister wrote that by directives of the Chairman of the Transitional Government, Mr. Abdullah K. Dunbar was summoned to return immediately to Monrovia for reassignment. The second letter was addressed to Mr. Aaron Kollie, instructing him to remain at the helms of the mission until further notice. An official at the US State Department confirmed that they received copies of the letters through their embassy in Monrovia, adding, "As far as we are concerned, these letters settle the matter as to who runs the Embassy of Liberia in US unless we receive a new clarification."

When we contacted Dunbar, he confirmed having seen the letters but said: "I was appointed and dispatched here by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liberia and I will be here until he tells me to leave. If he asked me to return to Monrovia tomorrow, I will be on the first plane." Pursuing our investigations, we spoke to an advisor to Chairman Bryant who claims to have been present when the Chairman instructed Acting Minister Massaley to recall Dunbar and ask Kollie to hold on to the mission. The advisor further said: "The directives were given by the Chairman and Mr. Massaley only carried out orders given to him by the Chief Executive of the Republic of Liberia."

The confusion reached a most dramatic point on Friday December 19, 2003 when the Secret Service came to the Embassy and asked Dunbar to justify his presence. According to reports, the Secret Service was acting upon a request from Kollie and asked Dunbar to vacate the premises. Dunbar said that the Secret Service simply asked for his letter of appointment and told him that he and Kollie should get Liberian authorities to clarify the issues, adding that he left the premises at his own will. Kollie is said to have written a letter to Dunbar, calling on him to stop any sort of parallel activities at the embassy. The presence of the Secret Service brings the issue to another level and the government of Liberia will have to come up with a definite decision.

Speaking further on the issue, the Minister of Foreign Affairs said: "I did not unilaterally appoint Abdullah Dunbar. We have a Foreign Affairs Commission that reviewed his dossier and recommended him for re-assignment. It was based on that recommendation that we asked him to return to Washington, D.C. If Dunbar has to be re-called for whatever reason, I should be informed and should be the one to write the letter of recall. Liberia is the oldest country in Africa and we should know better than fall into these petty confusions."

The confusion seems to be far from over. However, until the Minister of Foreign Affairs sends a new letter of "clarification", Aaron Kollie will be acting as Chargé d’Affairs, at least as far as the US Department of State, the Secret Service and contractors are concerned. Contractors resumed work and are about to complete renovation on government properties on Fulton and Colorado streets.

Regarding the ECOWAS conference, the Minister said that the Ghanaian President, Mr. John Kufuor has been asked by his peers to hold on as Chairman for another year. "This is to ensure continuity and allow him to continue the work he has begun to resolve the conflicts in Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia." The Minister said that Liberian issues dominated the talks and hoped that commitments made by the international commitment, with the support of ECOWAS, will bring lasting peace and stability into the region. Asked if Liberia and Nigeria held talks regarding the fate of Charles Taylor during the Summit, Mr. Nimley said, "Not official talks but we had informal discussions because it is an important matter as far the peace process is concerned."

The Liberian Foreign Minister said that ECOWAS would only achieve its objectives if it were allowed to go from a political theory to practical implementation of the protocols signed in the 1970s, when the organization was founded. "For example, nations of the region should not let their territories be used to destabilize other countries. This must however go hand in hand with the free movement of people and goods across borders," said the Minister. He emphasized also that Liberia is benefiting from a rare opportunity at the present. "There is a lot of goodwill out there in the international community for Liberia and most important from the United States, the United Nations and the European Union. Lots of people are ready to help us and we must not waste this opportunity."

The Minister said he would soon be on his way to the US, leading an advance team for the upcoming Donors meeting, scheduled to be held early February 2004 in New York, and co-sponsored by the US government, the World Bank and the United Nations. The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and US Secretary of State Collin Powell will chair the conference. Transitional Government Chairman Gyude Bryant is also expected to attend, heading a team of technocrats to make a case for Liberia reconstruction.

Related Articles:
Confusion in Washington: Who Runs the Liberian Embassy? (Part II)

Who is the Lawful Chargé d’Affaires at the Liberian Embassy in Washington, DC?
Confusion in Washington: Who Runs the Liberian Embassy?