United States Ambassador to Liberia, Christine Elder has told Liberians to uphold the progress government and international partners have made over the years and not to undermine it because of political differences.
Amb. Elder made the assertion at celebration of United States’ 241st Independence Day in Monrovia.
Elder added: “As President Sirleaf’s historic second term draws to a close, she and her government can take pride in the progress made in rebuilding the foundation of this nation so damaged by years of Liberians turning against each other. Whoever earns the most votes in October or November, let them and every Liberian safeguard all aspects of progress as if it were their own, and focus on building upon that foundation with new priorities for the nation.”
The U.S. diplomat assured the Liberian government and people that the relationship between her government and Liberia remains strong as both countries work towards protecting the interest and security of the other.
She recalled the U.S.-Liberia Partnership Dialogue hosted in January in Washington, D.C.; the visit of U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Tom Price; and civic and voter education programs throughout the country under the sponsorship of the U.S. Embassy, NGO and partners as some factors assuring the solidification of US-Liberia relation.
Amb. Elder also recognized Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Chief of Staff Daniel Ziankahn and Police Inspector General Gregory Coleman for their professionalism exhibited in handling security issues after the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) drawdown.
She acknowledged that the two men have managed the security sector exceptionally well in spite of the perceived challenges people thought would face Liberian security in the absence of UNMIL.
As Liberians prepare to elect a new corps of leaders in October, Amb. Elder expressed hope that the election will be free, fair, transparent and peaceful, urging that candidates share their vision for Liberia with the benefit of a level playing field in electoral competition.
“I look forward to observing campaigns and rhetoric based on platforms and policies, as well as activists and citizens peacefully participating in rallies and voting,” Amb. Elder said.
She reminded her audience that the impending power transition is an opportunity for Liberia to be a model for other countries in the region, stressing, “This is Liberia’s chance for its peace, prosperity and democracy to be assured.”
In response, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf assured that it was her last time to speak at an occasion marking the celebration of the United States’ Independence Day in her capacity as president.
Sirleaf then extended gratitude to the Government and people of the United States for their support to Liberia during her 12-year regime after the civil unrest, recalling the long historic ties between the two countries, which makes both of them to not only be partners, but countries of similar upbringing.
She also recognized the US Government for major postwar projects it has implemented through USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and other partners, which has resulted into the restoration of electricity to Monrovia and other parts of Montserrado.
Sirleaf, however, emphasized that sustenance of the gains government and partners have made over the years depends on the upcoming elections, because by voting whomever Liberians want, the progress will either go forward or retrogress.
United States of America observes its Independence Day on July 4 every year, but this year the Embassy in Monrovia celebrated it on July 12.