President Sirleaf Calls on International Community to Remain Engaged With Liberia

Monday, 12th February 2007
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Washington DC, USA.
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Washington DC, USA.
Photo Credit: Sando Moore/Daily Observer
Washington DC, USA - Ahead of the start of the Liberia Partnership Forum on Tuesday, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has expressed concern over reports that the attention of the international community might begin to shift elsewhere as the situation in Liberia improves.

The President cautioned against a pre-matured withdrawal, noting that although the country has made progress, Liberia’s recovery is still fragile. “If we do not re-double our efforts, ultimate success is not yet assured.  President Johnson Sirleaf said the time is now to accelerate efforts to ensure peace, security, and stability in Liberia. “Now is not the time to level off our assistance,” the President emphasized.

Speaking on Monday in Washington, DC at the Center for Global Development, during an interactive Forum, the Liberian leader also expressed concern that certain critical elements of government’s program are not yet fully funded. The President named the rebuilding of the country’s security forces and the rebuilding of roads as central to everything, from keeping the peace, to revitalizing the economy, to delivering better health and education services. “But our security training program is not yet fully funded, and our partners still do not put as high of a priority on building roads,” the President observed.

President Johnson Sirleaf also expressed concern at the slow pace of disbursing funds and implementing programs. The President attributed the slow pace to weak capacity and bottlenecks on the government side, and as often due to weak capacity and unnecessary bureaucracy with the country’s partners. Both sides, the President said, need to focus much more attention on delivery on promises more quickly.

The occasion, attended by senior level business executives from the public and private sector, was graced by Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., who assured President Johnson Sirleaf and the people of Liberia of his continued support for the Liberian cause. The President earlier praised Congressman Jackson for being instrumental in promoting pro-Liberian issues in the United States Congress.

Meanwhile, the President is Monday meeting with Senior State Department officials heading by Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. The President is also meeting with the Senate’s Majority Leader, Reid.

The Partnership Forum formally opens on Tuesday, with an address by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The President of the World Bank, Secretary of State, UN Secretary-general and a representative of the European Commission, will address the opening session of the Liberian Partnership Forum.