Home Politics Shoniyin Praises Reform of Liberia’s Foreign Service

Shoniyin Praises Reform of Liberia’s Foreign Service

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By: Frank P. Martin

MONROVIA: Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, B. Elias Shoniyin, has backed Foreign Minister Sara Beyslow Nyanti’s passport retrieval directive, requesting the suspension of Liberian Diplomatic, Official, and Service passports issued under the July 2023 Revised Passport Regulations and reverting to the March 2016 regulations.

Speaking recently via ELBC radio station, Ambassador Shoniyin pointed out that the passport issue is basically tedious when it comes to Foreign Service operations, which every government very seriously considers in protecting its national and international interests.

“First of all, the passport law around the world is basically tedious. But, I am told the law was changed in Liberia to allow passports to keep the validity for six years. That was a disservice to the country. And I am told that the current minister has banned all of those passports, requested their return. I think that is the international standard that we have returned to”, he asserted.

Backing current Liberian Foreign Minister Nyanti, Ambassador Shoniyin expressed the hope that, with the few initial steps taken, the Minister and her team will continue to go deeper in reimaging the reputation of Liberia at the international level by trying to redeploy the best in our society to represent the country internationally.

He believes the Foreign Service is treated differently in many countries because many persons around the world don’t have the opportunity to visit Liberia.

Shoniyin who resigned from the government of former President George Manneh, argued that those sent to Foreign Service are directly representation of Liberia, therefore; they should reflect the image of the country.

“When you meet Foreign Service personnel, the level of intelligence, the level of competence, the level of sophistication should reflect what Liberia is. That’s why nations around the world should send their best, their very best into Foreign Service. And the process leading into an appointment into the Foreign Service in many countries is very rigorous; and we have a law, we have procedures here on the books, and we need to confine our process to that law,” he justified.

Shoniyini maintained that the issue of Foreign Service should be an apolitical decision.

“Foreign Service is not political in the first place. Look, the Foreign Service is like the military personnel who go according to ranks just like the military, the Foreign Service is not supposed to be political; it’s supposed to be independent to serve any government, any political institutions that will take over the leadership of the country,” he stressed.

Though, he said it is too early to praise Minister Nyanti and her team at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but steps, so far, taken by her show that the government’s foreign policy is on course or moving towards proper trajectory.

“That is why the Foreign Service is not supposed to be politicized. So I really hope that Minister Nyanti as she already started, I hope she is going to keep pushing and ensuring that she finds a way to incubate the Foreign Service to protect the institution from any future political manipulation”, he said.

B. Elias Shoniyin is an international affairs, development, and policy professional, with over nineteen years’ experience in nonprofit and public service, in multiple senior positions where he has made significant contributions to the post-war recovery and development of Liberia.

He served as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liberia in two successive administrations.

Via state radio, the former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs didn’t only back Minister Nyanti’s intervention to restore Liberia’s trust amongst the comity of nations but also made a retrospection when he joined the Foreign Ministry nearly nineteen years ago.

According to him, at the time, the Liberian Foreign Service witnessed lots of conflict, lot of commotion, reputational issues globally.

He noted that, in Saudi Arabia, then, Liberia had been banned, disconnected and they stopped Liberia’s operations in that country.

Shonyini: “They shut down our embassy and decided that Liberia will not be able to open an embassy in the Saudi area. So we have to work towards restoring confidence – reimaging ourselves, not just in Saudi, but many other countries that we had issues.” He named countries like Egypt and Senegal amongst others, at the time.

“All of those problems were resolved during my time at the Foreign Ministry, and it took significant efforts to do that. In Saudi we restored our embassy and expected to deploy a diplomat at a full ambassadorial level in Saudi,” he noted.

However over the last six years, Liberia had eleven of its embassies absolutely without ambassadors and “I think Government wasted so much money, deploying an embassy when it knew there weren’t ambassadors to serve in those embassies,” he disclosed.

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