Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to Seek Second Term in 2011

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to Seek Second Term in 2011

By Boakai Fofana

25 January 2010

Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201001251702.html

Monrovia — President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman to be elected head-of-state in Africa, announced Monday during her annual message to the national legislature that she will seek a second term during elections next year.

She said she was making the announcement now "to bring to an end all speculations" and said she would be "a formidable candidate" in the 2011 campaign.

"I know from whence we came yesterday. I know where we are today; I know where we ought to be tomorrow and I know how we will get there. Therefore, however I act, whatever I do, it will be for you, the people," she said.

This announcement was punctuated by loud applause that lasted several minutes, halted only by the president herself.

Campaigning as an underdog during the country's first post-war elections in 2005, which followed 14 years of civil conflict, Johnson Sirleaf said she planned to served only one term, although Liberia's Constitution authorizes two presidential terms of six years each. The job she began is not yet finished, she said: "Let us travel the road together knowing that the God who brought us this far will not leave us."

The campaign announcement came at the end of a lengthy review of the country's progress and problems.

"We have come a long way in our journey to economic reconstruction and national renewal," she said in her address and added: "Together, we have laid the foundation that will ensure that the sufferings and miseries of our people are adequately addressed."

"Internationally, we have moved from the status of an outcast on the international stage to one of the leading countries representing Africa internationally," she said.

But, she continued, Liberia still has a long way to go to recover from more than three decades of instability and war.

"There is no magic wand to transform

Monday's message, the president's fifth, covered a wide range of issues ranging from her government's fight against corruption, the state of the country's economy and the Truth Reconciliation Commission's final report.

Among the accomplishments cited is an annual growth rate of 7.4% for four years and an increase of the budget from the U.S.$80 million to over U.S.$370 million - all the while maintaining "the fiscal discipline of a cash-based expenditure regime." Another achievement she cited was the reduction of the debt arrears from U.S.$4.9 billion to U.S.$1.7 billion, with the expectation that most of the rest will be forgiven later this year.

The speech itself had a number of highlights. She said government inherited the societal problem of corruption that was further exacerbated by the years of conflict, but that it has now begun to strengthen and support institutions like the the Anti-Corruption Commission and the General Auditing Commission to fight graft. She then congratulated the legislature for passage of several pieces of significant legislation and called for the body to move forward on other important measures, including the Freedom of Information act, the code of conduct governing civil servants, a law to establish the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the Investment Incentive Act of 2009.

The country is in line to receive about U.S.$10 billion in foreign investment over the next two years, and oil exploration is "well advanced," she said. "Food production, particularly rice, cassava and other staples, has increased significantly all over the country."

"All this has been achieved despite the impact of the 2008/2009 global economic recession which has impacted us, just as it has all other nations," she said.

She cited "key initiatives [that] demonstrate my Administration's unwavering commitment to fight corruption" and pointed to the new professionally trained national army now numbering over 2,000 and a revitalized police force.

"Freedom of the Press reigns supreme, regrettably, sometimes without responsibility and concern for the good of the country," she said. "There are no political prisoners and no repression against the exercise of political rights and expression. No political opposition has been forced into exile."

The country's is rebuilding its infrastructure, including roads, bridges, hospitals and schools, clinics and playgrounds; and public buildings are also being constructed, renovated or repaired throughout the country. Both the port and the airport have been rehabilitated and in conformity with international security standards, said the President.

"Enrollment in primary schools throughout the country is 605,000 compared to 540,000 in 2008, representing an increase of 11 percent," she said. "Secondary school enrollment is 183,000 compared to 158,000 in 2008, an increase of 14 percent. For the first time, subsidy has been provided to private schools which have contributed to this enrollment performance. We have provided over U.S.$400,000 in subsidy to 20 private institutions."

In the area of health, she said that prevalence rates of malaria, cholera and anemia have been reduced in children, a nationwide immunization campaign against yellow fever was completed and the country has significantly increased delivery of anti-retroviral drugs to Liberians living with HIV.

Outlining three areas "that will be defining to the future of this country" she said more has to be done to promote transparency and accountability throughout government but also in the society as a whole. She said "more needs to be done particularly in the areas of punishment under the law," and she promised to take further action herself.

"Without prejudice to their rights of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law, I must act against those, including the ones close to me, whose malpractices have put my credibility and the credibility of the country at risk."

On the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's controversial final report, the president said that, while she may not agree with all the findings and recommendations in the report, "there's no doubt that it dissects and analyzes our problems and makes recommendation for the healing, reconciliation, restoration, peace, prosperity and the progress of our nation. She proposed a strengthening of the Independent National Human Rights Commission Act of 2005 to follow up on the TRC recommendations to determine those "that are implementable or enforceable under the Constitution and laws of Liberia."

She then called for legislation that would allow Liberians living abroad to maintain foreign nationalities without forfeiting their Liberian citizenship.

She also said that the County Development Funds, which are the mechanism for dispensing funds to the country's 15 counties, must be handled "directly and solely" by the Executive Branch, to remove the roadblock created when the legislature gave itself a role in determining funding priorities.

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Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah



Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah

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