Liberia’s Central Bank Governor Resigned Under Pressure, Asked Not To Leave Liberia

By: Josephus Moses Gray

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

May 12, 2004

Elie E. Saleeby, Governor of CBL and Chairman of CBL Board
Amidst mounting pressure, the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Elie Saleeby has resigned from the lucrative position. Mr. Saleeby, a close associate of the deposed Liberian President Charles Taylor and the first Minister of Finance of the Taylor regime, on 11 May submitted his resignation to the office of the Chairman of the transitional government of Liberia.

Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant, according to a press release from the Executive Mansion, received and accepted Governor Saleeby's resignation and replaced him with Mr. Charles A. Greene.

The newly appointed governor is to administer the affairs of the office of the Executive Governor of the bank in the interim, while Chairman Bryant appoints Executive Governor, the release from the Chairman office noted.

In his letter of resignation, Mr. Saleeby gave no reason for his action but it is believed that he resigned from the position amidst intense pressure from various sectors of the Liberian society including the Liberian Transitional Legislative Assembly for printing huge amount of Liberian dollars without the approval of the assembly.

While the Central Bank of Liberia is yet to disclose the actual amount it printed in recent time, the assembly has been questioning Mr. Saleeby for his action to print money without seeking the approval of the body.

Reports gathered from the Central Bank of Liberia have revealed that the bank printed about 700 millions Liberian dollars during the 90 days prior to President Taylor’s departure from the country into exile in Nigeria.

During the last rebels attack on Monrovia and it surroundings, Mr. Saleeby disbursed L$40 million Liberian Dollars to Mr. Taylor without the approval of the Legislature on grounds that the nation was under attack and the deposed regime of Charles Taylor needed money to fight the insurgents.

According to him, the amount given to the Charles Taylor National Patriotic Party (NPP)-led government was to be refunded but he failed to give the date for for paying back the tax payers’ money to the bank.

Members of the Assembly in their arguments, accused Mr. Saleeby of usurping their function and violatiing the Liberian Constitution, which among other things gives the House the right to approve the printing of the local currency.

But in his counter arguments, the former governor said the act that created the Central Bank gives the bank the right to print the Liberian Dollars without the approval of the House, and added that the Bank is an independent institution and has a specific mandate.

Meanwhile, the Comprehensive Accra Accord signed last August did not allocate the Central Bank of Liberia to any of the belligerent group none the political parties or civil society but the high command of the rebel group-the Movement for Democracy in Liberia(MODEL) has argued that they should appoint the Executive Governor of the bank, while the main rebel group-Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), wants to appoint the Deputy Governor.

But Chairman Bryant remains firm in his decision to resist the pressure from the two rebel groups to appoint the Executive Governor and Deputy Governor of the bank, arguing that the Accra Accord did not allocate the bank to any of the warring parties.

With the resignation of Mr. Saleeby, it is not known whether Chairman Bryant will cave in to the demands of LURD and MODEL or will continue to remain firm in his decision to appoint his choice to the bank.

The Speaker of the transitional Legislative Assembly, George Dweh, has meanwhile instructed state security to prevent Mr. Saleeby from leaving the country until he can be audited and clear.

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