Monday, January 16, 2006

Liberia: Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf sworn-in as President

Update January 17th:
I've added a few new links to news articles (Germany's Der Spiegel) and to the full text of the Inaugural Address given by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia at Monrovia yesterday. If you read nothing else in this post, please read the moving and powerful words delivered by Liberia's new leader to her anxious people and to the people of the world.

January 16, 2005:
As of approximately 13:25 CET today history was made in Liberia and in the world. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was sworn-in as the 26th President of the Republic of Liberia, Africa received its first elected female head of state, and the leading democracies of the world welcomed a competent and determined West African leader who has their full support in helping to rebuild her war-torn country and bring peace to a region troubled by brutal conflict and corruption for decades. Madame President Johnson-Sirleaf pledged in her acceptance speech to work hard to unite Liberians stating, “Let us begin anew, moving forward into a future that is filled with hope and promise.” (CNN) She also promised to “wage war against corruption regardless where it exists or by whom it is practiced”. This of course is an issuing of walking papers for a number of politicians and their business cronies operating in Liberia today.

The inauguration ceremony was broadcast live on CNN and
BBC albeit by videophone due to the lack of electricity and communications infrastructure in the capital Monrovia. I can’t wait to see the various videotape reports later today. International news agencies from across the globe have been following the preparations leading up to Liberia’s presidential inauguration for weeks and CNN’s Feme Oke and Jeff Koinange featured a Focus on Liberia special on the Inside Africa program this past weekend.

There has been so much said and written about President Johnson-Sirleaf and the Liberian presidential campaign and elections over the past several months it is difficult for me to add anything new here. As I took time to watch the inaugural ceremony TV news footage this afternoon I was deeply moved to be able to witness this historical event in my lifetime, and I kept saying to myself “God Bless her, God Bless her and the people of Liberia”. It was also not lost on me that January 15th is our (U.S.A.) national holiday for remembrance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. According to the Reverend Samuel Sumo Payne, a Liberian immigrant to the United States who will be participating in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration activities this year in Ohio, Dr. King’s impact on social justice and civil rights reverberated far beyond the shores of the United States. Here is an excerpt from the
Toledo Blade news article on Rev. Payne:

Mr. Payne was in junior high school when he spotted a book in his father’s office with a photo of Dr. King on the front. He said he asked his father, a Lutheran bishop, about the “gentleman on the cover” and was told that it was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a civil rights leader in America.“It was just a casual conversation, but I started asking what a civil rights leader is. My Dad said he stood for unity and peace and that Dr. King was in some ways a bridge builder,” Mr. Payne recalled. “He said he wanted to help eliminate social injustice and to bring equality to everyone.”

“Dr. King’s stand for social justice and equality for all people in America, regardless of their race, had a tremendous impact on me,” he said. “For me, to come to this country and not be judged, being an African and being black in America, and being looked at for what I can do, I see that as the evidence of his impact.”

Like Dr. King, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is determined to do what she can to heal a nation and move forward, to build bridges between former combatants and the victims of brutal conflict and injustice and inequality. It’s a tall order for anyone to try to fill, but in my soul I believe that this lady has what it takes to get the job done. It is up to the rest of us around the world to make sure that our respective national political and business leaders provide the support that Liberia so desperately needs. So that Africa’s first democratically elected female head-of-state, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and the new start for the people of Liberia, goes down in the history books as an important turning point for West Africa and a beacon of hope for people everywhere.

I and other bloggers and journalists will write more (much more) about Madame President Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia this year and throughout her term in office. I am certain that many of us around the globe wish her great success in her new job and her new leadership role in Africa.

News References re: Liberia and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for January 2006:

Google News search:
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberia - Monrovia January 17, 2005
Full text of the Inaugural Address by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Reuters AlertNet January 16, 2006
U.S. signals backing as Liberia leader takes office
Reuters AlertNet January 13, 2006
Taylor ex-son-in-law elected Liberia House Speaker

Germany's Der Spiegel (Intl. Edition) January 17, 2005
Liberia and Chile Elect Female Leaders

MSNBC Today Show interview w/ Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
“All men have failed… let’s try a woman.”


1 comment:

Tchad said...

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