Liberia president's son sues over 'nepotism' claims

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this year

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One of the sons of Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has reacted angrily to claims that he is benefiting financially from public positions he has been appointed to.

Robert Sirleaf is the president's third son and her senior adviser.

She recently made him chairman of the National Oil Company of Liberia.

He wants $8m (£5m) in damages from the local Independent newspaper over a story about newly-discovered oil titled "Sirleaf's oil or Liberian oil?"

President Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this year, shortly before being re-elected. She is Africa's first elected female head of state.

In his petition, the president's son describes the article as "diabolical" and "unsubstantiated", saying it was meant simply to bring his office into public and international ridicule.

He is also taking action against Jefferson Kogie, an opposition politician, over an article he wrote in The Analyst newspaper.

That piece criticised President Sirleaf's decision to give her son the oil company job, shortly after making another of her sons deputy governor of Liberia's central bank.

'Dinner table'

Mr Kogie's article also suggested that Robert Sirleaf was on the verge of becoming Liberia's first billionaire from the oil industry, and that the current political arrangement could lead to major decisions being taken around the family's dinner table.

Mr Kogie is being sued for $1m (£600,000), and the newspaper for $2m (£1.2m).

Mr Sirleaf says that by publishing the political activist's article against the Sirleaf family, the paper had "failed to exercise the degree of responsibility associated with the field of journalism".

The BBC's correspondent in Liberia, Jonathan Paye-Layleh, says the affair is embarrassing for the president, who came to power six years ago promising to end "an imperial style of presidency" that had become the norm in the West African country.

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