Johnson-Sirleaf begins cabinet nominations

Hours after taking office, Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has nominated eight members of her cabinet, including finance and defence ministers, bringing on board two opposition figures and a Liberian employee of the World Bank.

According to a press release issued here late Monday, Johnson-Sirleaf said the nominees will undergo confirmation by the Liberian Senate as stipulated in the Liberian Constitution.

An economist at the World Bank, Dr Antoinette Sayeh was nominated finance minister, while Brownie Samukai, a former soldier in the Armed Forces of Liberia who later served as UN security official at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania received nomination for the defence portfolio.

Dr. Joseph Korto, one of the 22 presidential candidates in the October race was named to head the education ministry and Surgeon Walter Gwenigale of the opposition Liberia Unification Party was named minister of health and social welfare.

Korto and Gwenigale publicly switched their support to Mrs.
Johnson-Sirleaf during the runoff election last November.

Prominent human rights lawyer, Kofi Woods was nominated to head the ministry of labour, Varbah Gayflor who served in the former transitional government is retained as minister of gender, former journalist and ex-president of the Liberia Football Association, Willis Knuckles was named minister of public works.

Geologist, Dr. Eugene Shannon becomes minister of lands, mines and energy.

Woods, who now becomes labour minister in the new government, is among a group of Liberian human rights lawyers who sued the US-Japanese firm Firestone Rubber & Tyre Company, the world’s single largest rubber plantations in Liberia, of practising « modern day slavery » against its labourers workers.

She promised that more nominations will follow shortly.