President Sirleaf Encouraged By Developments Taking Place in Lofa

Monday, 24th March 2008

Members of the Press:

  • As you all know, the President and her cabinet Thursday concluded a four-day retreat in Voinjama, Lofa County, at which time a number of issues were discussed, crucial to the countryís national development agenda. The President is encouraged by the level of development taking place in Lofa, particularly in the area of agriculture, especially rice production.  Like the people of Lofa, all Liberians must be encouraged to engage in food production to reduce our dependency on the importation of our staple food, rice, which has increasingly becoming expensive for the ordinary citizen. The President continues to explore all avenues to assist our people become self-sufficient in food production. Through her initiatives, efforts are currently underway to boost the countryís food production through large scale production of rice, by means of mechanized farming. An inter-ministerial committee is currently considering proposals from one of our development partners for large scale production of rice.  Once the details are fully concluded, you will be given the exact details.  So, concrete efforts are being taken by this administration to address the long-term objective for rice production.

As a follow up to the Presidentís recent visit to Lofa, the Vice President, Dr. Joseph Boakai is leaving for that county to inspect ongoing development projects which the President could not cover due to her tight schedule. The Vice President will be discussing with local farmers their concerns and efforts being made by government to boost agricultural production in the country.

 

  • Another issue weíll like to bring to your attention is the situation involving Liberian refugees in Ghana and the comments the issue is attracting in media and public circles. While we welcome or encourage public debate on issues of national concern, we urge our citizens and the media to exercise caution in their commentaries, so as not to undermine the peace and harmony existing between Ghana and Liberia and the peoples of both countries. We must all realize that we have a responsibility to find an amicable solution to the situation involving our citizens in Ghana, and avoid comments or actions which have the potential of inflaming the situation, thereby undermining the cordial relationship between our two countries and peoples.

We are encouraged that the Ghanaian authorities were able to back down on an earlier decision to deport more than five hundred Liberians. The decision by the Government of Ghana followed direct telephone discussions between our President and the Ghanaian leader, President John Kuffour. Had it not been for the timely intervention of our President and the decision by the Ghanaian authorities to honor her appeal, the situation would have been otherwise.

The President is encouraged that Ghanaian authorities are cooperating with our officials on the matter. More discussions are continuing, aimed at reaching among other measures, an understanding to ensure an orderly integration or repatriation process of our citizens. A four-man technical Team of Government is already in Ghana in continuation of the discussions.  In addition to the Team, an official Liberian delegation led by our Foreign Minister, Mrs. Olubanke King Akerele is headed for Ghana to hold further talks with Ghanaian authorities regarding the situation.

 

  • We have received with utter dismay reports that two officers of the Special Security Service were on Saturday morning arrested in Gbarnga, Bong County for allegedly being in possession of marijuana.  The officers are Paul Krah and Robert Carmo. The two agents have now being turned over to authorities of the Special Security Service in Monrovia for further investigation. If found guilty, the services of the two offers will be terminated in keeping with regualtions governing the SSS regarding narcotic drugs. The will subsequently be turned over to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.

The agents were never forcibly taken away from the custody of the local Drug Enforcement Agency custody in Gbarnga as has been reported. Two officers of the Service, Mr. Austin Abakeh and Peterson Marbiah, traveled to Gbarnga Sunday morning and secured the release of the accused SSS agents, with a signed understanding that they (the accused) will be returned, following internal investigation being conducted by the Special Security Service.

The accused officers have been in the service for a little over two years.