MONROVIA, Liberia (Reuters) — President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf dissolved her cabinet on Wednesday, a move that will provide her a “fresh slate” for the next phase of her administration, her office said in a news release.
No other reason was given for the move, but it comes in the midst of a crackdown on corruption in Liberia that has already implicated some public officials a year ahead of presidential elections.
“President Johnson-Sirleaf told the ministers that the reason for demanding their mass administrative leave is that this administration is entering a critical stretch and this would afford her the opportunity to start with a fresh slate going forward,” the news release said. “The President further announced that a cabinet restructuring will be made in the shortest possible time and that several ministers could be reappointed.”
Deputies will take over the ministers’ responsibilities until replacements are nominated.
Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf has been in power since 2006 and was expected to seek another term in an election planned for 2011.
An analyst said the move may be part of a strategy to improve her chances in the election.
“Patience with her government is wearing thin over the issue of corruption,” said Joseph Lake of the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit. “She faces a strong challenge in the 2011 presidential election from local hero George Weah and this may be an effort to freshen up a weary cabinet.”
Her critics say she has not done enough to root out corruption or ease tensions between communities divided by 14 years of near-constant civil war that left the infrastructure in ruins.
Liberia is one of the world’s poorest countries, but its oil and minerals resources are drawing increased investment from energy and mining companies.
The government said last month it was investigating some current and former public officials for their role in a proposed carbon deal that would have given a British firm control of a fifth of the country’s rainforests.