13 December 2012

Liberia: Leymah Gbowee Speaks On Resignation

Photo: Leymah Gbowee
Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee.

For the first time since her resignation as head of the Peace Commission, Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee has broken silence and clarified comments she made in Paris, France during the launch of her book.

Appearing on the Truth Breakfast Show Tuesday, Madam Gbowee said she is disappointed because President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is noted for criticizing previous governments for corruption and nepotism.

"I am disappointed because President Sirleaf is on record even in her book 'This Child Will Be Great' for saying she opposed Tolbert for nepotism; those were the foundations or platforms for which she stood and many of us followed and today we see her doing the same thing; I am disappointed", Gbowee maintained.

Gbowee indicated that she subscribes to the famous quotation of Dr. King which states "there comes a time in a man's/woman's life when they must take a position that is neither popular nor politics nor safe but conscience tells you this is the right thing to do".

Explaining further, the Noble Peace Laureate said a press conference was held during the launch of her book in Paris wherein a journalist asked "Madam Gbowee, you are on record as one of those who supported President Sirleaf's first and second terms; I have just come back from Liberia, there is a lot of complaints of corruption and nepotism in her government, are you disappointed?"

In response, the Peace advocate said she told the journalist "of course I am disappointed." However, the response created public outburst terming it as untimely and inappropriate to have made such statement abroad instead of Liberia.

"I am here talking today; I am disappointed; I am not just disappointed in President Sirleaf, I am disappointed in myself as a Liberian; I have been silent for too long because of this first African female president solidarity" Madam Gbowee maintained her comments made in Paris.

Gbowee: "You have a population where everybody complaining I did not say anything out of the ordinary."

Commenting on question as to whether she regrets her statement in Paris, she maintained that as a peace activist she speaks her conviction.

Although President Sirleaf has earlier stated that Gbowee was not politically mature enough to say some of the things she said, but the peace activist said she was not too young to know when wrong is wrong and right is right.

I may be too young to understand certain things, I may be too young to know how many years she spent in the struggle, but I am not too young to know when it is wrong to do certain things", Madam Gbowee replied President Sirleaf.

On the main reason for her resignation, Gbowee said she resigned and hand delivered the letter of resignation to President Sirleaf on August 23, 2012 on the bases that she wanted to focus on her foundation and needed the government to clarify misinformation that she received US$500,000 to support the peace and reconciliation initiative, stressing "I did not take a dime; I used my peace foundation's money."

She said during a meeting with the president after she first resigned, the President told her that they would have clarified the misinformation but no clarifications were made, thus leaving her with no option but to tender a second letter of resignation on September 28, 2012. She said her character was at stake and could not allow it to be tarnished.

She said the government failed to provide clarity thereby questioning her integrity nationally and internationally.

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