20 September 2017

Liberia Braces for Historic Transition

Photo: Liberia Government
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf waits to address the UN General Assembly (file photo).

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Tuesday delivered her final message at the ongoing United Nations General Assembly in New York, underscoring the importance of the upcoming representative and presidential elections in Liberia.

President Johnson-Sirleaf said Liberians are eager for what she referred to as historic transition that the country has not seen for about 73 years.

"Today, I address you for the last time as I bring to closure my two terms of elected office. Liberia is just 22 days away from historic legislative and presidential elections. It will mark the first time in 73 years that political power will be handed over peacefully, and democratically, from one elected leader to another. This paves the way for the next generation of Liberians to lead the country into the future," Sirleaf told the UN body.

She said the 72nd Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly is being convened at a time of historic transition in Liberia; one she says is taking place during a period of acute challenges to global order.

"Today, we face the threat of climate change, the violence of terrorism, the risk and indignation of migration, and a nuclear escalation on the Korean peninsula. Moreover, there is a race against time to accommodate a restless youthful population in search of opportunity and a brighter future," she said.

The President paid homage to the progressive and creative leadership of Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, during which he assured the world of his commitment and action to reform the United Nations for increased efficiency, better coordination and gender parity by 2021 at the senior leadership level.

She said Liberia is also pleased with the initial steps taken toward the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The President said this year's UNGA theme:" Focusing on People - Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for all on a Sustainable Planet," aptly captures a universal aspiration.

"I hope that at the conclusion of our deliberations, we will forge a consensus and renew our commitment as leaders to transform the lives of our people and meet our responsibility to our planet. The work of the United Nations has never been more important to the search for peace and the sustenance for global stability than it is today," she noted.

The Liberian leader said the purpose of the United Nations still represents the genius of collective ability to live together in peace and harmony and offers great hope to a troubled world.

"Liberians bear witness to this truth, and remain grateful to the United Nations, and all of its organs and agencies, for the critical security interventions, and continued support toward Liberia's recovery and democratic aspirations," Johnson-Sirleaf indicated.

Recalling her first address to the world body, President Sirleaf said: "Eleven years ago, in September of 2006, I stood before this august body as the newly elected president of the Republic of Liberia, and, the first woman to be democratically elected as head of State on the African continent."

The President said the upcoming elections in Liberia will signal the irreversible course that the country has embarked upon to consolidate its young, post-conflict democracy, stressing "indeed, democracy is on the march in Liberia and, I believe, on an irreversible path forward on the African continent as she trumpeted praises on all of Liberia's partners who made meaningful contributions, financial and in-kind to ensure peaceful elections, and those organizations which will deploy observer missions to attest to the integrity of the elections process."

The President recalled that she assumed office after 25 years of development reversal which was further compounded by a 15-year civil war.

The Liberian leader also said her administration has been successful in transforming the economy from a growth rate of less than zero to more than 8.7% in 2013, until the health crisis and plummeting commodity prices brought a downturn to Liberia's economic recovery, adding "Liberia has adjusted, we are resilient, embracing diversification. Our focus today is towards strengthening the agriculture sector for value addition, and infrastructure development with emphasis on roads and energy for industrialization."

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