The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs has placed on hold the confirmation of Foreign Minister-designate Dee Maxwell Kemayah until thorough investigation is carried out regarding recent sexual harassment allegation claims made against Mr. Kemayah by Ms. Whynee Cummings Wilson, an employee of the Liberian Permanent Mission to the United Nations.
Making the pronouncement yesterday during confirmation hearing for Ambassador Kemayah, Senate Foreign Affairs Committee chairperson, Senator Dan Morais, said, as senators and the committee charged with the responsibility of investigating allegations that are brought to that body, they find magnitude in thoroughly and fully investigating the allegations made against Ambassador Kemayah.
“And so we stand adjourned; the nominee will remain under oath, and we will inform of the day he’s supposed to return,” Senate Foreign Affairs Committee chair Morais declared.
The move to adjourn the confirmation of Ambassador Kemayah followed an impassioned appeal from committee member Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence for consideration of an investigation into allegation of sexual harassment made against the Foreign Minister-designate.
Recalling her role in the earlier confirmations of Ambassador Kemayah, Senator Lawrence extolled the qualification and experience of the nominee, indicating that she voted twice for his confirmation.
“No doubt, you have the qualification, the experience and interpersonal orientation to represent us as the minister of Foreign Affairs. This is an integrity position, a position that must enjoy the confidence, respect and recognition of our international partners. With that said, I have a concern that I want to raise because you are going to be the one to take care of Liberia’s foreign policy. There is an allegation that is tied to your reputation. I think that allegation should be investigated and cleared in your interest, in the interest of the Liberian senate, and in the interest of Liberia, so we can conclude on this confirmation because you are going out there to represent us, and we don’t want your integrity to be questioned. Therefore I am recommending to this committee, that as we go to continue this confirmation hearing, that we take that into very serious consideration, and make sure that it is investigated properly so that we get clarity for you to go out there and represent Liberia,” Senator Lawrence stated.
For his part, the Senate Foreign Affairs co- chairperson, Senator Conmany B. Wesseh, said the confirmation of an individual nominated as foreign minister is a very serious business.
“The position of the owner of the seal of the Republic is not anything to play with. Even if the President is elected, there is a role played by the foreign minister for other people around the world to know that that president is the president of the republic, because of the role they play by holding the seal. I want to thank the public for the interest that has been shown. That interest goes with special scrutiny. I participated in the confirmation of Ambassador Kemayah when he was nominated as deputy minister of foreign affairs, and also as permanent representative to the United Nations. At the time, we did a thorough job of scrutiny. Coming to foreign affairs requires even more thorough scrutiny because we have to ensure that the person we have out there is the genuine and legitimate representative of our country,” Senator Wesseh observed.
“I want us to do due diligence to this confirmation. I don’t want any sentiments to tie us. I don’t want us to hear things that are untested. Many of us in our political work have stood for justice, and part of what is justice is to pursue the truth and stand by it. We must not accuse falsely. We must not accuse when we cannot give proof of what accusations we make. And those accused, when they are found guilty, must bear the full consequences of their actions. I Conmany B. Wesseh, having stood for justice all my political life, will ensure that justice is done in this particular case. Some concerns were brought before the committee. The committee will do a thorough job at it and we will pursue justice; we will pursue justice without sentiments. We want for all of those that have shown interest to continue until we get the foreign minister that this country deserves,” Senator Wesseh pledged.
The call for adjournment in the confirmation hearing of Foreign Minister-designate Kemayah comes against the background of a sexual harassment allegation made by Ms. Whynee Cummings Wilson, an employee of the Liberian Permanent Mission to the United Nations.
Speaking recently during an online interview, Ms. Wilson said she is willing to submit to a lie detector or polygraph test to establish her claims, and urged Ambassador Kemayah to take the lie detector test as well, adding that she did not come forth with her allegations based on political reasons.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Kemayah’s legal team has since dismissed the allegations from Ms. Wilson as outright lies meant to damage the hard earned reputation of their client. They wondered why didn’t Ms. Wilson come up with her allegation only until Ambassador Kemayah was nominated as Minister of Foreign Affairs by President George M. Weah.
“We are aware that long before his nomination as Liberia’s Foreign Minister, a handful of detractors unleashed an avalanche of failed attacks to hunt him down into disfavor with the President,” claimed Tilem & Associates, the New York-based legal team of Ambassador Kemayah.
Traditional leaders and civil societies have joined the chorus in condemning the allegation against Ambassador Kemayah as politically motivated.