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Liberian president's son resigns from oil company

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 17, 2013 at 11:40 am •  Published: September 17, 2013

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — The son of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has resigned from his position as head of the state oil company, an appointment that had prompted allegations of nepotism from the president's critics.

Sirleaf accepted the resignation of her son, Robert Sirleaf, from his positions as chair of the National Oil Company of Liberia and as senior presidential adviser, according to a statement from the Executive Mansion Tuesday.

"With your departure, this government will lose one of its most valuable assets," the president wrote in a letter to her son that was included in the statement.

The resignation comes just days after Liberia's lawmakers suspended debate on new oil laws until after they return from break in January. Liberian non-governmental organizations had urged lawmakers not to pass the laws, complaining of the lack of public consultation.

The oil company has refused to make copies of the draft laws public. One law governs the oil company itself while the other governs production and exploration. The Senate passed the laws on Sept. 10, but the House of Representatives on Friday voted to suspend debate.

The attempt to rush the laws through the legislature was unacceptable, said Chloe Fussell, a campaigner at the environmental watchdog Global Witness.

"These bills are supposed to be open for public debate — for months, the drafters have been promising us consultation — and at the very least, the legislature should have more than a day or two to read them," she said.

The government appeared eager to pass the laws so that it could auction off new offshore blocks, Fussell said.

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