15 October 2012

Liberia: Ellen Breaks Silence On Laureate Gbowee's Resignation

Photo: AllAfrica
2011 Nobel Peace Prize winners: L-R Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkol Karman and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has expressed hope that resigned Peace and Reconciliation Committee's chairperson, Laureate Leymah Gbowee, will continue to work to make reconciliation a strong part of Liberia's rebuilding process. This is the first time President Johnson-Sirleaf has spoken publicly on the resignation of Laureate Gbowee.

Recently, while in Paris France promoting the French edition of her book, "Mighty Be Our Powers", Nobel Laureate Gbowee resigned as chair of the nation's Peace and Reconciliation Commission; on grounds that the Johnson-Sirleaf led government has made no sufficient progress in promoting reconciliation, also blaming the Johnson-Sirleaf administration of not only condoning corruption but also of practicing nepotism.

Madam Gbowee , who stated that she stands guilty of betraying the people's trust by working in a government that is guilty of closing its eyes to corruption in high places, views her resignation as an act of forgiveness from a raging conspiracy that President Johnson-Sirleaf has awarded "lucrative jobs" to her sons in a blatant act of nepotism.

She lamented that the president's appointment of one of her sons, Charles, as central bank deputy governor, another (Fumba) as head of the National Security Agency, and the third (Robert) as senior adviser and chairman of the state-owned National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) was unacceptable.

Regarding President Johnson-Sirleaf's son Robert Sirleaf, Nobel Laureate Gbowee averred: "This is wrong and I think it is time for her to put him aside." "He's a senior economic adviser and that's well and good - but to chair the oil company board - I think it's time he stepped aside."

Said Laureate Gbowee: "I've been through a process of really thinking and reflecting and saying to myself 'you're as bad as being an accomplice for things that are happening in the country if you don't speak up." "And when tomorrow history is judging us all let it be known that we spoke up and we didn't just sit down."

She acknowledged that the Johnson-Sirleaf led government has done a good job in rehabilitating the country's infrastructure, but was quick in pointing out that the rehabilitation of the country's infrastructure was not good enough for a country in which poverty was fast determining the social status of most Liberians.

Listen to Madam Gbowee: "What good is infrastructure if people don't have enough to eat?" "In her [President Johnson-Sirleaf] first term she developed infrastructure. But what good is infrastructure if people don't have enough to eat? Development in a land of hungry, angry people is nothing. The gap between the rich and poor is growing. You are either rich or dirt poor, there's no middle class."

However, President Johnson-Sirleaf says: "She [Leymah Gbowee] has helped us with the reconciliation. She's decided that she does not want to continue to help and we respect her views on that. We hope that somewhere along the line, as a good citizen, she will continue to work with us and make reconciliation a very strong part of our rebuilding process."

According to a news report posted on the Executive Mansion website, the Liberian leader made these assertions Friday, October 12, 2012 in Japan, when a reporter from Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper asked about the difficulty of the reconciliation process, especially in light of the recent resignation of fellow Nobel Laureate, Leymah Gbowee.

The Executive Mansion news report added that in further response to the inquiry, President Johnson-Sirleaf responded by highlighting Liberia as an open society in which its citizens are free to express their opinions about the government. "So we will continue to work with her [Leymah Gbowee] and hope that our objectives will all be the same - the rebuilding of our country using capacity wherever we can get it. I hope that she will join us in moving our country forward," said President Johnson-Sirleaf.

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