2 October 2017

Liberia: Ellen's 'Generational Change' Comment Clarified

Photo: Liberian Government
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Vice President Joseph Boakai

Jerolinmek M. Piah, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's Press Secretary, has clarified that there was no specific age group mentioned in the President's recent interview with Cable News Network (CNN) host Christiane Amanpour in New York, the United States.

In a live interview from the United States recently, Mr. Piah said the CNN host's question to President Sirleaf was specifically about transition in Africa, where some leaders have been in power for well over 30 years, and was keen on the fact that the President was keeping a commitment, having served for two terms, to turn over authority to whoever is elected at the ensuing October polls.

"Yes, the President emphasized that it was the right thing to do so that another generation of leaders can have the opportunity to take over. When you serve at the head of an administration, you represent a generation of people; there are several others, who are part of the leadership that represent a generation that she is heading, including the key opposition contender Senator from Montserrado County (George Weah); the Vice President is another. When you transition, as she is about to do, and have the leadership changed, obviously that is a new set of generation of leaders, " Piah explained.

Piah said that President Sirleaf went deeper by referencing the number of young persons who are aspiring for legislative seats in the House of Representatives, with over 160 women, who she said, are mostly young people among the contenders.

"If young persons were referenced, they were from those contexts. But at the top of the leadership when there is a change, it provides an opportunity for a new generation of leaders; and that is exactly what the President said in that interview," he clarified.

Piah, however, said that if there were interpretations that some people are now "venerating this President, who they have described in many ways, then of course it is just for the purpose of some political objectives they want to achieve for themselves. But there are no implications that the President was suggesting that whoever takes over as the head of state should be a young person. Mind you, the President is consistently on record for having said where she stands in the election is with her Vice President, who is a contender."

According to Piah, President Sirleaf was expected to visit the Nigerian State of Imo, where five less fortunate Liberian girls are attending secondary school through college gratis from a Nigerian philanthropist, and is expected to receive another award before returning home on Wednesday, October 3.

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