29 November 2013

Liberia: Alive and Kicking - Liberia Dispels Rumors President Sirleaf Is Seriously Ill

Liberia's Minister of Information says President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is alive and well and capacitated to continue to carry out the duties for which she was elected. This comes as rumors are circulating, particularly among the Liberian Diaspora in the United States that the president might be seriously ill. Speculations were first intensified in the media two weeks ago when the president left the country without the usual official announcement. Later the presidential palace released a statement saying that Mrs. Sirleaf had left the country to attend conferences in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Belgium.

Information Minister Lewis Brown told VOA's James Butty that rumors the president is seriously ill are false.

"There is no reason for that kind of information. The president is not just alive she is as well as she can humanly be. She just recently represented our country at the Afro-Arab summit in Kuwait. Then she had a state visit in the United Arab Emirates, and then she was special guest at the Europe-based program held in Brussels. So the president is alive. She is very well, fully capacitated to continue to serve this country for which the people of Liberia are grateful," he said.

Brown also dismissed rumors that President Sirleaf may have cancer.

"The president did a surgery about two months ago on her right hand where the doctors diagnosed that the cartilage in the wrist had worn out and she was experiencing discomfort in using the right hand. People saw her wearing a cast, and now it has been removed. So, how that got translated into a major ailment is still a mystery. But she is not just alive, she is very, very well," Brown said.

President Sirleaf turned 75 last month, and Brown said her recent checkup showed all her "vitals" were well in place.

"I have interacted with the president, including today, and every medical examination she's undergone over the last year indicate that she is well, fully capacitated, grateful to God and will continue to serve the people of Liberia in this transformation," Brown said.

Brown said President Sirleaf will return to Liberia on Friday, November 29 and is expected to be in office on Monday.

He reassured Liberians, particularly those living in the Diaspora that their president is well and alive.

"I thank you for this opportunity to reassure all Liberians in Diaspora and across our country that the president alive and well. President Sirleaf is no small national or international figure who would get sick and that will be hidden from the public. We don't operate like that. We run an open government. We will let you know if anything is wrong. Absolutely nothing is wrong with the president. She is alive; she is well and she is fully capacitated, and will return to Monrovia this weekend," Brown said.

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