Viewing cable 09MONROVIA26
Title: LIBERIA: PRS GOVERNANCE AND RULE OF LAW PILLAR ON

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
09MONROVIA262009-01-08 17:53:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Monrovia
VZCZCXRO2468
RR RUEHPA
DE RUEHMV #0026 0081753
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 081753Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY MONROVIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0674
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L MONROVIA 000026 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/06/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV EAID LI
SUBJECT: LIBERIA: PRS GOVERNANCE AND RULE OF LAW PILLAR ON 
BRINK OF DIVORCE 
 
REF: A. 2008 MONROVIA 477 
     ¶B. 2008 MONROVIA 742 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield for reasons 1.5 B and D. 
 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs 
Amara Konneh is frustrated with how the Governance and Rule 
of Law (GRL) Pillar of the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) 
is functioning and has asked the President to assign it to 
another Minister.  According to Konneh, the agreement made at 
the Rule of Law Retreat in September (Ref B) to split the 
pillar into a Governance sub-pillar, chaired by Konneh, and a 
Rule of Law sub-pillar, co-chaired by the Chief Justice and 
the Minister of Justice failed because Chief Justice Johnnie 
Lewis sidelined Minister of Justice Philip Banks in the Rule 
of Law sub-pillar and would not cooperate with Konneh in the 
larger GRL Pillar.  A best case scenario would be if the 
larger Pillar split completely into a Governance Pillar and a 
Rule of Law Pillar.  END SUMMARY. 
 
MINISTER OF PLANNING WANTS OUT OF GRL PILLAR 
 
¶2. (C) In a private conversation with PolOff following the 
January 6 meeting of the Governance sub-pillar of the 
Governance and Rule of Law (GRL) Pillar, Minister of Planning 
and Economic Affairs Amara Konneh said that he was frustrated 
with how the GRL Pillar was functioning and that he had asked 
President Sirleaf to assign it to another Minister.  He said 
he officially told her that because the Ministry of Planning 
will be overseeing the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of all 
four PRS pillars, it was inappropriate for him to chair one 
of them.  But, he also admitted working with the Chief 
Justice inside the larger GRL Pillar was "impossible" and 
said promises of better cooperation between the Chief Justice 
and the Minister of Justice made at the Rule of Law Retreat 
in September (Ref B) failed.  He said that a full GRL retreat 
chaired by President Sirleaf would be the only possibility to 
move the pillar forward, but feared even that may not be 
enough.  In his opinion, Sirleaf should make Banks head of 
the Governance Sub-Pillar to give him equal footing with the 
Chief Justice within the larger GRL Pillar. 
 
RULE OF LAW SUB-PILLAR HIJACKED BY CHIEF JUSTICE 
 
¶3. (C) The Governance sub-pillar still suffers from some of 
the same inefficiencies as the larger GRL Pillar always has 
(Ref A), but has improved considerably since Minister Konneh 
took it over in August.  The Rule of Law sub-pillar, on the 
other hand, has made no progress whatsoever.  At the 
beginning of the only meeting the sub-pillar has had since 
the Rule of Law Retreat four months ago, the Chief Justice 
sidelined the Minister of Justice as co-chair saying that he 
"will not be subservient to the Executive Branch" and 
demanded that his gavel be brought to him on a pillow by the 
bailiffs so that he could chair the meeting alone.  The Chief 
Justice has subsequently failed to show up for the last two 
sub-pillar meetings, without notifying donors or Ministry of 
Justice officials before their arrival that the meeting would 
not take place.  Deputy Minister of Justice Eva Mappy Morgan 
told PolOff December 23 that talks between the Chief Justice 
and her Minister had been "less frequent" since the Chief 
Justice refused to share power with the Minister.  She said 
none of the Rule of Law retreat agreements have been upheld 
either. 
 
COMMENT: 
 
¶4. (C) Given the promises broken to date, it appears that 
other agreements reached at the September Rule of Law 
retreat, including the inter-governmental rule-of-law 
taskforce, may also be in jeopardy.  We suspect that Minister 
Konneh, an ambitious 38-year-old recent Harvard graduate, is 
extremely frustrated with trying to work with the Chief 
Justice and is looking for a way to gracefully get off from 
what is likely to be a sinking ship.  The best solution would 
be for Sirleaf to break the GRL Pillar into separate pillars, 
a Governance Pillar, chaired by the Civil Service Agency or 
the Governance Commission, and a Rule of Law Pillar, 
co-chaired by Minister of Justice and the Chief Justice as 
agreed.  This would at least protect the gains made within 
the Governance sub-pillar from the complete dysfunction of 
the Rule of Law sub-pillar.  Otherwise, a GRL retreat chaired 
by the President herself (as she is the only one the Chief 
Justice listens to) may be the only hope of getting the Chief 
Justice to cooperate in a constructive manner with the other 
members of the pillar.  Even a successful pillar retreat, 
however, may not be any more fruitful than the Rule of Law 
retreat was before. 
THOMAS-GREENFIELD