1 November Press Briefing Notes

Monday, 1st November 2010

Colleagues of the Print and Electronic Media:
Welcome to another briefing session of the Executive Mansion.
We’ll begin with a meeting last Thursday, October 28, between President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and officials and members of the Liberia Council of Churches.

  • The President invited the church leaders to discuss issues of concern, including reports that the Government had directed that the teaching of the Bible in public schools be stopped.
    The church leaders were informed by the President that there has been no such instruction or directive by the Government to stop the teaching of the Bible in public schools.  She expressed surprise that church leaders were raising the issue since at no time had Government discussed the matter. The President, however, noted that Liberia, under its Constitution, is a secular State and that Government will continue to protect the rights of other religions under the Constitution.
  • The President also informed church leaders that Vice President Joseph N. Boakai will spearhead discussions between the Ministry of Education and churches that are using public buildings for worship services to ensure that measures are put in place to safeguard usage of public facilities. The President assured church leaders that using public buildings for worship services will continue while measures are being put in place to protect the assets.

The Vice President, the President told the church leaders, has also been charged with the responsibility of spearheading negotiations between the administration of ELWA and Government for the use of 11 acres of land in the ELWA vicinity.  ELWA occupies more than 130 acres of land, loaned to the institution by Government several years ago.  The Government is now requesting about 11 acres of that land for development purposes.  The Government of the People’s Republic of China has offered to build an office complex for Liberia that will house several Government ministries. There is no available public land in the Monrovia area suitable for the project. It is the President’s belief that the Management of ELWA will cooperate with Government to alleviate the constraints with which the Government is faced regarding office space for its employees.

  • Some of you may have received a news story from Time magazine’s online publication, titled “Strained Relations: Liberia’s President and Her Stepson,” written by one Johnny Dwyer. The story refers to strained relations between President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Director of the National Security Agency, Director Fombah Sirleaf.

There are no strained relations between President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her stepson, Mr. Fombah Sirleaf, Director of the National Security Agency (NSA).
It is expected at Mr. Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was arrested in Liberia in the presence of United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officials for drug trafficking, would tell all kinds of lies in order to be freed from jail.  He was never tortured, he was never mistreated, and all the time he was in custody, he was under the watchful eye of the DEA team who took photographs and who arrested him along with four others involved. All of them are now in U.S. prisons.

The President is proud of her stepson, the NSA Director, who collaborated with the DEA in achieving the bust of this major drug operation.