Monrovia — Barely twenty-four hours after she announced her intention to stand for re-election in Liberia's 2011 presidential elections, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf received strong moral support from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
During a town-hall meeting with employees of the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C., to commemorate her first year in office, Mrs. Clinton said: "I was delighted to hear that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said she will stand for re-election."
The U.S Secretary of State made specific reference to the pioneering role played by President Sirleaf in combating gender-based violence. Indeed, at different institutions in Liberia, including the Ministry of Gender and Development, the Liberia National Police, as well as the Special Court, the Government of Mrs. Sirleaf has created special programs for the protection of women and children who bore the brunt of the violence of the 14-year civil war.
Another topic raised by Secretary of State Clinton during her January 26 town-hall meeting centered on gender-based violence and recent events, among them the violence in Conakry.
It can be recalled that the Liberian President played a quiet but effective role in finding a peaceful outcome to the political tension that was rising in Guinea, especially after the violence that led to the deaths of hundreds of people and a spate of gender-based violence following a peaceful demonstration in Conakry last September.
Secretary of State Clinton added that President Sirleaf has "been one of the champions on [the issue of gender-based violence] in her political and government career."
The Liberian leader traveled to Guinea and Burkina Faso and, along with leaders of the sub-region, brokered a peace that is so far on course and should lead to the first free and fair democratic elections in the history of Guinea.
Moments after the President announced her intention to seek a second term, as she delivered her Annual Message to the National Legislature, thousands of jubilant supporters took to the streets to welcome the decision.
General and presidential elections are scheduled for 2011, and would mark the first time that Liberians have a chance to carry out a peaceful transition from one elected government to another. Announcing a candidacy that has long been the source of speculation, President Sirleaf declared: "I will be a formidable candidate."