29 November 2018

Liberia: Former Pres. Sirleaf Cautions Against Badmouthing Liberia

Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has told Liberians in all walks of life that despite the constraints in Liberia, no one should badmouth the country, as whatever is said reflects on the people themselves.

Speaking in a local radio interview in Monrovia on November 28, the former president said Liberians find pleasure in too much talk that does not reflect positively on the image of their country, which undermines the kind of respect others should have for the country.

According to the former president, whose administration welcomed the freedom of expression in Liberia, expressing views about existing issues is not wrong, but Liberians must learn to talk and be proactive in finding solutions to problems collectively instead of presenting the country as one that is unworthy to exist.

She emphasized that no one can be exempted from whatever suffering that may come to the country as a result of economy decline and, if the current administration fails, it will be a failure for the country.

Former President Sirleaf said she was not delving into the current state of affairs of the country, noting that Liberia's economy was on a good footing during her first term and half of her second, until Ebola disrupted everything.

Nevertheless, she said, before leaving office the country was recovering and things were moving better than they are now. She said discussing the economy on radio and in the public may not help to solve the problems, but if the George Weah Administration can call on her to provide her expertise, she is willing to contribute.

President Sirleaf said criticism from the opposition does not mean that the opposition is an enemy to the ruling party, but the opposition's action sets the basis for a strong democracy that gets the ruling party to correct its mistakes and to also let the opposition remember its criticisms to do the right thing when they assume state power through democratic elections.

She added that critics of Liberia do not take into consideration that the country is theirs, but are very accusatory with a "mindset" that the country cannot be a good place as long as they are not in control of the leadership.

She admitted to an internal wrangling in the Unity Party and said it is necessary that she and her fellow partisans get together to resolve those issues that created the differences.

During the course of the 2017 general and presidential elections, former President Sirleaf was noted by her partisans for not supporting former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai who contested on the party's ticket.

Acknowledging a long time of friendship that has existed between her and the former Vice President, the former president said the election friction that came between them will be settled because they are not "enemies."

Concerning how her administration handled the country, former president Sirleaf, who was heavily criticized by the current ruling party for failing to deliver to the people, said: "Liberians saw where we took the country from in 2006 to where we left it, yet they criticized us and said we did nothing. Even though they see the roads, the water, light, and other necessities, they are still saying we did nothing."

Though she is no longer in power, the former president has been receiving a number of accolades and attending various conferences around the world.

According to her, institutions that are awarding her those accolades respect her as a principled person and they know the roles she played in the governance and institutional capacity building of Liberia, and it is predicated upon her role that she is honored all of the time.

On the issue of wealth, the former president noted that she does not have money as people may perceive her to have; but the money she has now come from payments she receives when she performs delegated tasks in conferences she is invited to.

According to her, the only property she built during her administration was the house on her farm, but the rest of the properties she owns were acquired in the 1970s and 80s when she worked for the Government of Liberia, World Bank and the Citibank, which she noted were lucrative institutions.

She challenged her critics and accusers to check the record she left at the Ministry of Finance to ascertain if there was any wrongdoing while she was leading the country.

Authors

Joaquin M. Sendolo

Liberia

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