Pan African Parliamentary Delegation Calls on Vice President Boakai

Wednesday, 6th May 2009
Monrovia, Liberia - Vice President Joseph N. Boakai says Liberia has made  tremendous strides in governance, rule of law, human rights and freedom of speech since the inception of the Unity Party-led Government headed by Africaís first elected female president.

He said unlike in the recent past, Liberians now speak their minds without molestation, while newspapers openly criticize the Government.  He added that there are neither political prisoners nor journalists in jail in Liberia.

Vice President Boaka made the observation on May 5, when a four-member Pan African Parliamentary delegation which arrived in the country Saturday on a week-long assessment visit, paid a courtesy call on him at his Capitol Building office.

The Vice President said that Liberia, as a country emerging from a devastating civil conflict, still has a lot of challenges, citing low revenue intake and a heavy external debt burden. He explained that Liberia, which boasted a budget of USD$600 to USD$700 million before the war, now has a meager budget of about USD$300 million.

He likened this situation to that of an adult who suddenly becomes a child and has to learn all over  again to crawl and walk. The Liberian Vice President said the huge debt burden of nearly USD$5 billion is another major challenge facing the country.

He informed the PAP delegation that as a result of  President Ellen Johnson Sirleafís international contacts and goodwill, Liberiaís external debt now stands at USD$3 billion.

Briefing the Vice President, the head of the delegation, Namibian parliamentarian Agnes Mukubranga, told reporters that the Pan African Parliament chose Liberia to determine strides the post-war country has made in governance, rule of law and human rights since the end of its conflict.
Ms. Mukubranga said the delegation was also in the country to assess the welfare of war victims, education and relations between security forces and the civilian population. She said the delegationís mission was also to see the challenges faced by post-conflict Liberia and relations between soldiers of the peace keeping forces who were deployed in the country in 2005 and the civilian population.

The Pan African Parliamentary delegation also wanted to know about refugees and land in post-conflict Liberia. Ms. Mukubranga told the Vice President that the results of her teamís findings, along with appropriate recommendations, will be presented members of the African Union for action.