President Sirleaf Urges Legisture to Speed up Review of Mittal Steel Agreement

Tuesday, 20th March 2007

Monrovia, Liberia - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has urged the National legislature to hasten the process on the Mittal Steel Mineral Agreement now before that body. The President said the agreement has a lot of implications for jobs, business activities and the country’s economic expansion. The agreement, the President said, sends a good signal to many other investors that the process of re-negotiating agreements does bring benefits to the country, and would be subjected under a smooth process.

Speaking at her regular monthly call-in radio program, Conversation with the President, the President applauded the Legislature for opening up the process to scrutiny. “It is their right; that’s their mandate; “we are only appealing to them, if they can, to speed up the process a little bit, so that those activities can get started, “the President pleaded.

President Johnson Sirleaf said she or any member of the Mittal Steel negotiating Team would be prepared to appear before the National legislature if requested, to give further clarification and response to some of the issues. “We are just standing by to respond to their call,” the President added.

Reacting to reports of censorship, the President reiterated her government’s commitment to freedom of expression and of the press. The President said as an opposition figure in the past she was subjected to reprisals, repression and accusations, and would do nothing to repeat those abuses she suffered under previous governments. “I will be the last person to support censorship…If anyone can bring me any kind of evidence that someone violated the law by asking them to preview their headlines, I will deal with that person(s),” the President assured the Press.

The Liberian leader acknowledged missteps on a few occasions, but noted that in those cases, government has been honest to admit those mistakes and tries to correct them; “and where the court says we are wrong and should refrain from further actions, we will abide by that,’ adding, ‘We are not a perfect government.”

The President said it helps no one when individuals take up wild rumors and make false accusations, giving the impression, especially to those out of the country that the accusations are true. “This is really not fair to the government,” the President emphasized.

On the recent publication of a pornographic photo by a local newspaper, President Johnson Sirleaf reminded Liberians that somebody’s rights end where another’s rights begin. The President recalled that Liberia is party to the Convention of the Protection of the right of the Child. “People who publish pornographic materials also affect the rights of children.” The President said, all must be mindful of those rights.  The Chief Executive said, she looked forward to Thursday’s meeting between the Press Union of Liberia and Media Executives, with the hope that the PUL and media Executives would carryout their responsibilities by putting in place, within their own regulations, enforcement mechanisms to address issues bordering on ethical issues in the media.