President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is calling on all Liberians to let the New Year, 2014, be one of true patriotism and reconciliation that will highlight the positive things that unite us.
According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf, in her New Year's Message to the nation, urged Liberians to welcome the year 2014 with a sense of humility remembering that as compatriots, we must continue to strengthen the peace now prevailing in the country.
She noted that the country has great potential, and Liberians, a resilient people, have the potential to rise above the challenges, and really come together and make Liberia the truly great nation that it's meant to be.
Speaking about plans for the coming year, the Liberian leader said her government will accelerate development efforts, move the economy and create more jobs. "In this dry season, we will forge ahead with our infrastructure development, particularly roads, power and ports which are the essentials that make everything else happen in the country," President Sirleaf emphasized, adding that at the same time, her government will endeavor to implement the results of the study taken to address the problems of the education sector, as well as forge more effective efforts to promote food security through agriculture.
Beyond 2014, President Sirleaf pledged to continue to implement her administration's long-term vision and development agenda; conclude the processes for constitutional reform; expand infrastructure to a larger number of the population; strengthen the management of the country's natural resources; and ensure that Liberia retains an open society based on transparency and accountability.
On the international front, the Liberian President promised to build upon the satisfactory level of cooperation in the Mano River Union, ECOWAS and the African Union, and continue to strengthen and broaden good relations with bilateral and multilateral partners.
Looking back at 2013, President Sirleaf termed it a landmark year, as it was the year that Liberians commemorated the 10th Anniversary of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ushered in a decade of uninterrupted peace. "We proudly proclaimed to the world that we had lived through a decade of uninterrupted peace, thanks to the contribution from all Liberians and the generous support received from regional institutions and global partners," she stressed.
The Liberian leader indicated that although the country remains a fragile state, the record of continuity in peace and democracy is clearly present. She urged her compatriots to continue to build upon this momentous achievement for the good of our native land.
Highlighting some of the major activities during the year, President Sirleaf said 2013 saw her government begin to implement the National Vision 2030, a 20-year initiative, out of which a medium-term economic growth and development strategy, the Agenda for Transformation and a Strategic Roadmap for National Healing, Peace-building and Reconciliation, have been carved out and are being implemented. "Together, these policies are guiding us on our journey to the future as 'One People, One Nation, United for Peace and Sustainable Development'," President Sirleaf said.
In 2013, President Sirleaf said her administration placed great emphasis on infrastructure, with power, roads and ports as the three areas of concentration, because, in turn, these facilitate the education, health and agriculture sectors.
On the fight against corruption, she admitted that although work is far from done, there has been some progress, especially in terms of prevention and punishment.
Regarding reconciliation, the Liberian leader said they've moved an inch ahead with the Palava Hut Initiative launched in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, last October. However, she warned that reconciliation will come about only with the commitment of all to peace and unity. "Only if we all work together to address the many related issues, will our country progress and prosper," President Sirleaf said.
As for the economy, the Liberian President admitted that although growth has remained satisfactory, it has not performed to expectation due to delays in operationalizing investments. She attributed this to land and benefits disputes and, to a certain extent, official bureaucratic bottlenecks which resulted in pressure on the exchange rate which has impacted the people. "We have already taken measures to get our mining, agriculture and forestry operations back on track, to get the economy functioning fully as planned," President Sirleaf assured.
"Nevertheless," President Sirleaf said, "we are proud of our efforts and the progress, in the past year, under the Agenda for Transformation pillars of peace, justice, security, and rule of law; economic transformation; human development; governance and public institution; and the many cross-cutting social issues of youth unemployment, gender equality, child protection, disability, the environment and more," the Liberian leader stated.
As the New Year breaks, President Sirleaf prayed for God's guidance in leading the nation in the direction of peace, reconciliation and development. "We wish Liberians - at home and in the Diaspora - and residents living within our borders, a very happy and prosperous New Year filled with health, happiness and prosperity," President Sirleaf said.