In the wake of increasing violent activities across the country, including armed robbery and ritualistic killings, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has registered her keen awareness and called for rigorous action to curb the situation and bring perpetrators to justice.
Delivering a special address to the nation in Monrovia yesterday on the theme, “A Call to Action” she said as the country prepares for United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) drawdown and the approaching 2017 elections, Liberians should be cognizant of the “implications on our collective determination to maintain peace and security in our country.”
“We are mindful of 2017 and how crucial it is in the country’s democratic transition,” the President admonished the hundreds of guests from the public, private, civil and international arenas, who overflowed from the Cecil Dennis hall into the foyer of the Foreign Ministry in response to her invitation.
From the Vice President down to the pem pem riders and yana vendors, the President disclosed to her invitees that already, “some elements of our society are beginning to test our resolve to ensure the collective security of the country and its people through different acts of lawlessness and criminality.”
The President declared, “Let me assure you that the government is fully aware of what is taking place, and is currently taking steps to contain these wanton acts of violence.”
The country has in recent months witnessed a rise in ritualistic killings and armed robberies triggering a backlash of anger and mob retaliations threatening the peace and security of communities in Nimba, Montserrado and other areas of the nation.
The president warned that she has instructed the security forces to rigorously enforce the law to the letter and bring the ugly situation under immediate control.
To those who she said have chosen the path to commit murder and armed robberies, the President advised them to abandon that path of life, and gave this notice: “Let the word go forth that we are coming after you, and that there would be no place for you (to hide). Once caught, the full weight of the law will take its course.”
Said President Sireaf, “There are specific things that our citizens can do to help improve the country. So we urge our citizens to refrain from violent protests and destruction of properties in the expression of rights to land, community benefits, etc. This will not be tolerated.”
Some in the audience may have been left wondering what specifically the President was referring to that would help improve the country.
She called for better consideration and cooperation by non-state actors in their advocacy on behalf of their organizations and beneficiaries. This, she said, “will open up opportunities for more private sector investors for all Liberians.”
“We too in government have a major challenge in the role we play. There is need now for improvement in bureaucratic delays, better use of capacity, changes in procurement laws and processes and more vigorous enforcement of our corruption efforts.
Likewise, the media can be more investigative and less sensational in their reporting,” President Sirleaf charged, not mentioning the many media reports of corruption that have gone unaddressed by her administration.
She also informed Liberians that it is time to show their patriotism and the love and dedication to the country.
This, she said, applies not only to the heads of the branches of government or the cabinet. It applies to each ordinary Liberian, adding, “There are things that we will be doing in the next few weeks that require your full participation.”
“This is where, fellow Liberians, I truly need your support. Everyone doesn’t have to start together, but at least few people need to lead the way. And for those who have studied business, there is always a “first mover advantage. I encourage you to be the first mover.”
She however admitted that the difficulties the country is faced with today are not unique. Although many other countries face similar challenges and continue to suffer the effects of global decline in commodity prices, the President challenged Liberians to be determined to demonstrate character, commitment and political will during the turbulence.
“I want you to know that we will leave no stone unturned to recover lost gains. I ask for your support as we take the action necessary to do so. I also ask for your full participation in everything that we do. We came together in unity and strength to defeat the Ebola virus and we must continue in the same character to face down this new challenge.”
“I make this plea not only to members of my government, but our fellow citizens in the private sector and ordinary individuals interested in seeking political office, that we must all prepare to work harder for our beloved country and people,” the President declared.
The full text of the President’s message is attached below.