AFP—Liberia’s central bank confirmed Thursday it has appointed the son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as interim governor despite his previous suspension from the institution for failing to properly declare his assets. Charles Sirleaf was deputy governor of the bank until his promotion to interim governor on Wednesday, but in 2012 was temporarily suspended on his mother’s orders for breaching declaration rules.
The bank confirmed the appointment to AFP on Thursday but would not comment further. It was unclear how long he was expected to remain in the interim governor post or when a permanent replacement would be named.
His appointment has raised fresh allegations of nepotism against Sirleaf following the short-lived appointment of another son, Robert Sirleaf, to the National Oil Company of Liberia. Robert Sirleaf was forced to resign in 2013 after attracting heavy criticism, and went on unsuccessfully contest a Senate seat in 2014.
The outgoing governor of the central Bank of Liberia, Mill Jones, resigned his post two weeks ago to enable him to stand for the presidential elections due to take place in 2017. Jefferson Knight, head of human rights monitoring at the influential United Methodist church in Liberia, told AFP he believed Charles Sirleaf was appointed primarily due to his name.
“There are so many Liberians who are qualified for that post, why it is only he who will be elected? This is nepotism,” he said. “I am sure the president is testing the water and I hope she will do the right thing by appointing another person. Though we don’t know for how long her son will remain as interim head, this is not smelling good,” Knight added. “Liberians spoke against it until Robert resigned. That will also be the case with Charles Sirleaf’s appointment.”
Ordinary Liberians were also quick to express their anger Thursday. “This is the same nepotism Leymah Gbowee was referring to when she resigned her post from the government,” said Patrick Tokpah, an educator. Gbowee, a Nobel Laureate like Sirleaf, resigned as head of Liberia’s reconciliation commission in 2012 accusing President Sirleaf of failing to fight graft. In a 2013 Transparency International survey, 96 percent of respondents said they felt that Liberia’s lawmakers were corrupt or extremely corrupt, and 77 percent reported paying a police bribe in the last year.