After Pressure from River Cess Citizens, Pres Boakai Appoints Additional Local Government Officials

CESTOS, River Cess − President Joseph Boakai has made several new appointments of local government officials affecting River Cess, amid mounting pressure from county citizens.

On Saturday, June 1, the Executive Mansion released a new list of government appointments, including 16 individuals appointed to serve in local government positions in River Cess.

Those appointed were Dennis G. Seeboe, county administrative officer; James M. Peters, county financial officer; Estella Logan, county development officer; Mark Morton, mayor of Cestos City; Jerry Cole, commissioner of Zarflah District; Robert Morris, commissioner of Fahn River District, and Anthony V. Zwehgar, commissioner of Nyonwlen District.

Others are Sensee Roberts, statutory superintendent of Central C; Esther Juludoe, commissioner of Jo-River District; Paul Sayuah, commissioner of Morweh Statutory District; Daniel Zeo, commissioner of Sengbalor District; Henry Sobeon, statutory district superintendent of Yarnee District; Matalay Teah, commissioner of Hardenvule Township; Janjan Zeodegar, commissioner of Yarpah Township; Nathaniel Grayoung, commissioner of Little Liberia; and Jackson Jimlack, commissioner of Charles Township.

The latest appointments followed growing concerns over the delays in appointing the remaining officials after former representative Byron Zahnwea was named the county’s new superintendent in February. A second round of appointments included Nester Jones as inspector for Morweh Statutory District, William Yasay as commissioner for Doedein Administrative District, and Matthew Wise as commissioner of Central River Cess Administrative District. However, the remaining officials remained unappointed for months, leaving a gap in local leadership in the county.

A cross-section of county citizens voiced their dissatisfaction over the delay of the appointments, blaming the situation on the inaction of the county legislative caucus. Many feared that the delay would negatively affect the county’s development. Adding to their frustration was the fact that the national chair of the governing Unity Party, Luther Tarpeh, is a native of River Cess.

Augustus Trokon Freeman, a Liberian journalist and native of River Cess, hypothesized that the delay resulted from disagreements among relevant political actors who were trying to advance their own political interests.

“Among several local government officials to be appointed in River Cess, only the county superintendent, alongside a few district officials, was appointed,” Freeman said in an open letter to the president.

“Mr. President, we will, in the coming days, recommend qualified River Cess citizens to occupy the remaining positions if the relevant actors fail to submit names to your office for nomination.”

Another River Cess native and critic of the Boakai-Koung administration, Matthew Fornatee Fanciah, also blamed the lack of love for the county among its caucus members.

“This is totally wrong and a syndicate of inherent evil to the County. It just shows that our leaders do not love the county but only care for their selfish gain. Worst of all, they are undermining the president. Their actions are indicating that President Boakai is not in charge,” Fanciah said.

Alfred Nyansuo, president-elect of the River Cess Citizens Union, a social advocacy organization, expressed concern about the delays.

“Although the superintendent can be inducted into office without the principal deputies, he could be strangulated, especially in the area of business transactions,” Nyansuo said. “One person cannot perform financial transactions specifically in the governance process, and for the purpose of transparency and accountability.”

Elijah Kassaynee, River Cess’ immediate past assistant superintendent for fiscal affairs, also blamed the caucus members for the delays: “I think it’s the county higher leadership that is still struggling to submit their list of local leadership because the president is not in the county.”

“I am not a member of the UP, but in my opinion, the president is not responsible. Those who are responsible are those who want to recommend their own people because 2029 is coming,” Kassaynee said.

The Bush Chicken had contacted caucus members through their verified WhatsApp accounts but received a response only from the second district’s lawmaker, Steve Tequah.

“It delayed, but it’s done now. That list is submitted and will be announced soon,” Rep. Tequah wrote before the announcement of the appointments.

Superintendent Byron Zahnwea took the oath of office on Friday, May 31, before the remaining county local officials were announced.

Featured photo courtesy of the Executive Mansion

Eric Doue

Eric Opa Doue is a co-founder of Echo Radio Station, which does a series of programs in Bassa, Kru, and simple Liberian English. Under his leadership, Echo Radio was selected as one of the Moody Radio global partners for training opportunities in 2013 and 2014. Eric was one of a handful of reporters who received training from Internews in 2015 on humanitarian reporting during the Ebola outbreak in Liberia. He holds a diploma in Journalism, from the Ghana Institute of Journalism.

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