Liberia's Johnson-Sirleaf sacks auditor-general for graft

DAKAR Mon Jul 8, 2013 2:44pm EDT

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf arrives at the African Union Headquarters for the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of States and Government in capital Addis Ababa May 26, 2013. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf arrives at the African Union Headquarters for the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of States and Government in capital Addis Ababa May 26, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Tiksa Negeri

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DAKAR (Reuters) - President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf dismissed Liberia's auditor-general and the head of the public procurement agency (GSA) on Monday in a crackdown on public sector corruption.

Johnson-Sirleaf, a Nobel peace laureate, has pledged to fight graft as the West African country strives to recover from a sporadic 14-year civil conflict that ended in 2003 and left its once-prosperous economy in tatters.

A presidency statement said Auditor-General Robert Kilby, who took office last year, was being dismissed for a clear conflict of interest due to his private business dealings.

Pearine Davis-Parkinson, director-general of the General Services Agency (GSA), was dismissed for approving contracts involving Kilby in violation of Liberian law.

Davis-Parkinson told a parliamentary committee last week the GSA had employed an accounting firm owned by Kilby to set up an asset tracking system for the government.

"Join me in our continued fight against corruption," Johnson-Sirleaf said in a statement announcing the dismissals.

Johnson-Sirleaf, who took office as Africa's first elected female head of state in 2006, has come under pressure for failing to root out corruption.

A recent audit of resource contracts by the accounting firm Moore Stephens showed that almost all the $8 billion worth of resource contracts signed since 2009 violated Liberia's laws and showed irregularities.

Johnson-Sirleaf told Reuters that the audit had been designed to highlight problems so that they could be addressed, and her government was taking action to do so.

She has forecast that economic growth, which has averaged 6.5 percent over the past four years, will hit double digits within two years as foreign investment starts to have an impact.

(Reporting by Alphonso Toweh; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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