Who is the Lawful Chargé d'Affaires at the Liberian Embassy in Washington, DC?

By Mohamedu F. Jones

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

December 12, 2003

After reading the December 10 2003 story by Abdoulaye W. Dukulé captioned "Confusion in Washington: Who Runs the Liberian Embassy?" like many Liberians, I was particularly troubled by the events reported by this respected journalist.

The story suggests that there is so much "confusion" at the Embassy, which to say the least, (is another thing to add to all the others) that is not good for our country. It is not precisely clear from the story whether Mr. Aaron Kollie or Mr. Abdullah Dunbar is the legitimate representative here in Washington. However, although one can reasonably conclude from how the "facts" are presented that Kollie told the reporter that Dunbar is the person causing the confusion, and he (Kollie) is the legitimate head of the Embassy, rather then Dunbar. As Mr. Dukulé reports in his story, he spoke to Mr. Aaron Kollie and other Embassy employees.

In light of this, it seems proper to offer additional information regarding this saga:

· The donors' preparatory conference at the State Department was not opened to the public. Attendees had to pre-register with and be approved by the State Department, as well as receive protocol and security clearances. It is indicated that Mr. Dunbar registered and entered the State Department for the conference under the nomenclature "Charge d'Affaires" of Liberia.

· According to information I have received, during the meeting, each attendee was asked to introduce himself or herself. My information is that that Mr. Kollie introduced himself as "Aaron B. Kollie, Liberia," and that Mr. Dunbar introduced himself just as Dukele described, "My name is Abdullah K. Dunbar and I am the new Chargé d'Affaires and Minister Plenipotentiary at the Embassy of Liberia and I represent the government of Liberia." This is in marked contrast to a situation "where the State Department recognized the presence of the Liberian Chargé d'Affairs at the conference table," (in the person of Mr. Kollie) as reported to Mr. Dukulé.

· In Letter NTGI/MFA/2-2/1274/'03 dated November 7, 2003, Abel M. Massalay, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs wrote the following:

Dear Mr. Kollie:

I am pleased to present my compliments and inform you that by directive of H. E. Honorable Thomas Niemely-Yaya, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Liberia, you are hereby recalled home for reassignment.

· In Letter NTGL/MFA/002/2-1/'03 dated November 12, 2003, 2003 to Dunbar, Thomas Nimely-Yaya, Minister of Foreign Affairs states in pertinent part, "pending the appointment of a resident ambassador to the United States of America, you will serve as Chargé D'ffaires a.i. of our Mission in Washington, D.C."

· In Diplomatic Communication NTGL/MFA/1229/2-6/'03 dated November 13, 2003 to the Embassy of the United States in Liberia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote:

The Ministry of Foreign affairs of the Republic of Liberia presents its compliments to the Embassy of the United States of America and has the honor to inform the latter of the appointment of Mr. Abdullah Dunbar as Minister Plenipotentiary and Charge d'Affaires, ad interim of the Embassy of Liberia in Washington D. C.

Mr. Dunbar will take over and conduct the affairs of the Embassy pending the nomination and subsequent appointment of an Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

The Ministry requests that the appropriate visa be issued in favor of Mr. Dunbar to enable him to take up his duties in Washington.

When one examines these communications, they look legal and proper on their faces. If they are, as they seem to be, then indeed there is no confusion as to who is the lawful Chargé d'Affaires of the Embassy. If they are also as they seem to be, then there is no confusion as to who is causing the confusion. It seems to me that a press statement from the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia, clearly stating who its Chargé d'Affaires is, would clear these confusions up in short order, because either Kollie has been recalled or he has not been recalled, and Dunbar has been appointed or he has not been appointed.