17 July 2014

Liberia: Robert Sirleaf Talks Big

Photo: Liberian Observer
Robert Sirleaf receiving petitions calling on him to contest October election for Senator from Montserrado, Liberia's most populous country which includes the capital Monrovia.

Mr. Robert A. Sirleaf, the son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf officially declared his intention to contest the Montserrado County Senatorial race as an independent candidate on Wednesday, with big talks that tend to question his mother's achievements so far.

"I Robert Alvin Sirleaf announce my candidacy for senator of Montserrado County. And we will go on this journey as an independent candidate," Sirleaf told journalists Wednesday.

Mr. Sirleaf, whose declaration comes just two days after his petition, outlined several social issues including high teenage pregnancy, crime, drugs abuse and lack of basic infrastructures and basic social services which divide both the rural and urban parts of the county. He says the lack of roads, bridges and other basic essentials which make life better has pushed rural Montserrado farther from urban Montserrado.

With each paragraph in his speech starting with "I care" Mr. Sirleaf, a senior advisor to his mother told journalists that the message was loud and clear on Monday, July 14, 2014 during his petitioning ceremony when the citizens informed him about their present living conditions and hope for a better tomorrow. Mr. Sirleaf further highlighted the fact that homes and communities should be safer places, where streets are better lit and the women and children can feel secure.

His comments and declaration to go independent and not on his mother's ruling Unity Party or UP, which is gradually becoming unpopular, comes weeks after the UP elected its candidate to contest the county's seat amidst discontentment over the party's primaries conducted nationwide. The special senatorial election is scheduled for October 14, this year with 15 seats in grasp.

"I care that in all these areas the Montserrado County Development Fund will benefit the people of Montserrado and prioritize their wellbeing and welfare. I care that our mothers, brothers and sisters who sell in the markets have not just a better marketplace but also access to daycare, playgrounds, and a safe environment where their children and grandchildren can learn and play," Sirleaf continued.

"I care that our youths, like other young people around the world, will not only have a chance to play and be healthy in body, but will also go to community centers with high speed internet and computers where they can sharpen their minds and expand their horizons. I care that we must solve the overcrowding of our prisons. We must develop programs of rehabilitation that will provide second chances especially for our young offenders. Serving time ought not to necessarily consign anyone to a life of crime," he added.

He noted that when citizens served their country and retired, their country must repay them with special care and attention, and treat them with the respect, recognition and the dignity they deserve.

"I have tried to act more than I speak, to praise more than to criticize, to build up and not tear down. My brothers and sisters, I have tried to show that any position of privilege can, and should be used to improve the living conditions of our people, knowing that caring for others does not only change lives but makes oneself better. And it gives hope-hope that is tangible; hope through change that you can see, hope you can feel, hope that speaks through actions and less through words," he concluded.

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