Liberia: Time to Reverse Corruption

United State Ambassador to Liberia Christine Elder tells Liberians that the time is now to reverse corruption and its corrosive and contagious effects on their country.

She says Liberia must seize the moment to achieve long-term political and economic stability, stressing, "The time is now to strengthen an economy that provides opportunities in more sectors and where open and transparent competition rules the day."

Speaking at the 243rd Independence anniversary of the United State of America in Monrovia Wednesday, 08 May Amb. Elder also urges the time is now to give women and girls a life free of abuse and an equal chance to apply their talents and bring solutions to their community's and the nation's challenges.

She also notes the time is now to offer ideas on how to improve Liberia's economic situation, rather than solely criticize or exacerbate the problems.

She continues that as Liberia charts its journey to self-reliance, it is imperative that the country recognizes the extraordinary importance of civil society in helping to achieve a lasting peace. "Liberia's vibrant media", Ambassador Elder asserts, "experienced NGOs, and dedicated faith-based organizations have played - and continue to play - a central role in promoting accountability, supporting conflict resolution, and fostering Liberia's democracy."

The call by the American ambassador comes when Liberia is nursing a dwindling economy devastated by inflation, unemployment and a messy exchange rate that are greeted by impending citizens' unrest.

She says Liberia must now develop a private sector capable of sustaining the livelihoods of the people, and suggests that increased investment, including foreign investment is essential for growth, but stresses that in order to make Liberia a competitive location for investment, the executive and the legislative branches of government must work together to stabilize the economy and lower the barriers to doing business here.

At the same time Ambassador Elder applauds President George Manneh Weah for opening discussions with the International Monetary Fund regarding measures that could restore confidence in the economy and set the stage for growth. "I hope that you, the Liberian government, and the Liberian people remain open to what the IMF recommends so that Liberia can lay the groundwork for future economic productivity and prosperity", she cautions.

The ceremony held at the U.S. Embassy near Monrovia, was graced by President George Weah and senior officials of the Liberian government, including legislators and members of the diplomatic corps, among others.

Meanwhile, she says the observance of America's Independence Day normally occurs on the fourth of July, and so they are 57 days ahead of schedule because there have been many colorful theories as to why this is happening, explaining that actually, many U.S.

Embassies around the world host these annual celebrations outside of July for a variety of reasons including to accommodate extreme weather, out of respect for elections or religious or local holidays, or the coincidence of hosting important visitors.

According to the U.S. Envoy, this year in Saudi Arabia, the Embassy of the United States hosted July 4th in February, in Egypt, it was held in March, and in Pakistan, it was celebrated in April, so the celebration in Monrovia, Liberia is closer to the mark than some colleagues in other places.

She says the scheduling decision was based on the realization that many members of her senior leadership team will conclude their tours in Liberia in the coming weeks, some before July 4, and she wanted to thank them for representing the American people with such distinction. By Bridgett Milton-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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