5 November 2012

Liberia: 'My Family Faultless' - Ellen in Defense of Her Credentials & Family

Photo: Liberia Government
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf addresses the U.S. council on foreign affairs.

Admitting to "systemic and endemic" corruption in Liberia, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf came in defense her integrity, insisting that she and her family had no fish to fry in corrupt practices and activities, and also challenging any one to find fault with her or her family.

She said in a rather defiant tone: "I challenge anyone who says it's with me or my family. We have a very vibrant society, a society that's full of rumors and innuendoes."

She also defended her choice of those she appointed to positions of trust, saying "Now I have to put [people] in certain places where I get the best results based upon talent, based upon competence and based upon integrity, and that's what I do. I stand the test and I challenge anyone who says there are other motives. I stand by my record and stand by the record of my family very firmly."

According to her, appointments she made in government were done on merit, whisking off the huge dust that is now billowing as it relates to claims that she does not have the wherewithal to deal with her appointees head on.

President Sirleaf who on many occasions told the nation that corruption was common place not only in government, even in the churches, schools and homes, however sounded contradictory when she dismissed allegation of corruption as mere rumors and innuendos.

Also contrary to her assertions that corruption was commonplace in Liberia was mere rumors and innuendos, her critics have indicated that could not be so true when the General Auditing Commission (GAC) has so far released about 78 audit reports in which several officials of the administration were held liable for acting outside of set rules and standards, and even mandated to be made to refund huge sum of monies uncounted for.

Most of GAC findings are dismissed on grounds of what the government sometimes terms lack of "sufficient evidence."

Albert Bropleh, former Chairman of the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) is the known former official of the government prosecuted on corruption charges, while former Grand Gedeh County Superintendent Chris Bailey was indicted in connection to alleged corruption.

Besides criticisms that she is condoning corruption for her failure to deal with and take drastic administrative and legal actions against those indicted by GAC, the president is also dealing with criticism of condoning nepotism, an abrogation of the constitution, in her government.

Madam Sirleaf is not bowing out on the issue that has to do with her son, Robert Sirleaf serving as Executive Chairman of the Board of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL).

On many occasions as she has defended her record as being spotless, the President came to the defence of her son, and even told the nation that he was rendering pro bono service, meaning that he was not being paid for what he is doing at NOCAL.

The Liberian leader is one of three co-chairs of the high-level panel invited to London to decide what should come after the millennium development goals (MDGs). Others were David Cameron, the UK prime minister, and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesian president.

Commenting on the MDGs, the president said three years remained to meet the eight MDGs and she wanted to see a big push to meet those off-track, adding "The post-2015 agenda has to build on the MDGs, but peace has to be fundamental. Without it, it is hard to achieve other goals."

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