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July 15, 2005

Liberia suspends government maritime officials

Liberia's Bureau of Maritime Affairs yesterday issued a press release saying that the "Liberian government has acted quickly to appoint Lloyd Kennedy as its acting, Commissioner of Maritime Affairs following the indefinite suspension as Commissioner of the Bureau of Maritime Affairs of J D Slanger, who is being investigated for alleged malpractices relating to certain financial irregularities. As part of the same investigation, the government has also suspended from duty Mohammed Dukuly, Liberia's permanent representative at the International Maritime Organization in London."

Liberian press reports say that the dismissals were ordered by Liberia's transitional leader Gyude Bryant.

The Liberian Observer has a particularly interesting report that suggests the investigation may center on "the mysterious disappearance" of payment of $800,000 from Inmarsat .

The acting commissioner, Lloyd Kennedy, is a Liberian lawyer. The Bureau of Maritime Affairs says he "has considerable experience over many years as leading counsel for the Liberian Maritime Program. He brings to the job extensive experience of the shipping industry, and close ongoing contact with events at the IMO. Mr. Kennedy's appointment is designed to ensure professionalism, continuity and stability in the Government's affairs of the maritime bureau."

Commenting on his appointment, Mr Kennedy said, "I think this is irrefutable confirmation of the transitional government's determination to come down firmly on any semblance of wrongdoing, and to protect the country's maritime interests. The decisive action taken in this matter is indicative of continuing efforts to build a stable system of government in which there will be no room for corruption."

"Liberia understands the prestige which attaches to its shipping registry, which is in no way implicated in-- or affected by-- these recent events," said Mr. Kennedy. "The swift and positive action it has taken in this matter should be welcomed by all concerned."

Commenting on the future and stability of the Liberian Registry, Kennedy stated, "I look forward to working with LISCR, the manager of the Registry to ensure that they continue to provide the international shipping industry with the top level of quality service that is the hallmark of the Liberian Registry. The surge in growth of Liberian tonnage during this exciting time in the shipping industry along with Liberia's consistently high marks by the port state control authorities is a clear indication that shipowners are pleased with the professionalism of the Registry."

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