President Sirleaf says in parting words, calls on Liberians to ensure new government succeeds
By William Q. Harmon and Alvin Worzi
Liberians are bracing themselves for a new era to be led by a man that received a resounding mandate from the Liberian people on December 26, 2017. This, however, positions President Sirleaf for her imminent departure, which is in fulfillment of the constitutional provision that limits her to two terms of office.
She said at her ascendance to the presidency, the nation was starting from zero, with the complete destruction of infrastructure, a collapsed economy, and a state incapable of providing services to its people. “Our collective faith and resolve were put to the test, as they have been many times over in our 170 years of independence,” she said, declaring that Liberia’s democracy is irreversible.
She recounted: “12 years ago, on the 26 of January 2006, I had the privilege to address you, the people of Liberia, for the first time as your president. We were a nation exhausted from three decades of conflict. We were starting from zero, with the complete destruction of our national infrastructure, a collapsed economy, and a state incapable of providing services to its people.”
Speaking on Wednesday in the cabinet room of her Foreign Ministry office in Monrovia, the President said her administration inherited a heavy burden and painful past that she and the Liberian people were no match for. “We carried these together, but were no match for, dear friends,” she said.
In spite of these many challenges, she added, “never did you lose hope in yourselves, pride in our nation, or the determination to persevere.”
“It was your energy that lifted me up each day; motivated me; gave me the drive to exhaust all possibilities for the benefit of our beloved Liberia,” she said. “As I speak my last words to you as president, they are simply to say, thank you for the honor to serve.”
The President boasted of the holding of two peaceful and credible successive national elections, coupled with a pending historic transfer of power from one elected leader to another—and according to the President, many would have never envisaged such 12 years ago.
“Back in 2006, many doubted us – not certain if Liberia’s democratic resurgence would last; that our newfound peace would hold. And yet, look around you: our democracy is irrevocable; it binds every future leader of this country to the will of the people.”
Liberia, today, reflects the changing face of the continent, where rule of law, human rights, good governance and accountability are demanded by its citizens, she said.
“This is Africa’s future. And Liberia is one of its enviable democracies,” she added.
Call for Self-Reliance
President Sirleaf, whose government was heavily aid dependent, is now, as she leaves office, calling much belatedly for Liberia to be self-reliant, because governments and nations across the globe are becoming more so.
She asserted: “The world has changed rapidly over the past decade. Across the globe, governments and nations are turning inward in search of solutions to their domestic challenges. For a country like Liberia, this means that we need to be more self-reliant. Each of us has to take on more responsibilities for the development of our country.”
“We must dedicate ourselves to ensuring [the new government] succeeds,” she said.
She thanked Liberia’s international partners – the donors, investors, NGO workers, humanitarians, and friends – commending them that she leaves the presidency in awe of their generosity, that in a world with so many great needs, they chose Liberia. She said: “We have learned and innovated together, and these gains will go on to benefit our next generation.”
She paid tribute to African countries, especially those in the sub-region who stood by Liberia during its moments of crisis.
President Sirleaf also thanked members of civil society, the judiciary, Liberia’s Fourth Estate – the media – and religious and traditional leaders, adding that through their work and prayers, they have strengthened Liberia’s democracy.