Vice President Boakai Meets With Congressional Delegation

Thursday, 24th March 2011
Vice President Boakai greets members of the delegation.
Vice President Boakai greets members of the delegation.
Photo Credit: Office of the Vice President

Monrovia, Liberia - A four-member United States Congressional delegation who are in the country on a weeklong assessment visit,  Thursday paid a courtesy call on Vice President Joseph N. Boakai Sr. at his Capitol Building office.

During the visit, the U.S Congressmen had an interactive forum with the Vice President on diverse issues, including the Ivorian crisis and its impact on post-war Liberia.
Speaking during the ensuing discussions, Vice President Boakai lauded the United States for standing by Liberia through thick and thin.

He observed that the United States stood by Liberia even during the civil conflict, noting,
 “Whatever happened to Liberia during the war, the U.S has always been that friend that supported us.”
“We could not have achieved what we accomplished without the support of the United States and other international partners,” Vice President Boakai added.

The Liberian Vice President then went on to outline challenges facing post-war Liberia, which he cited as lack of roads and other infrastructure, as well as lack of trained manpower. “We want investment that will have immediate and long-term impact on our society, but we can’t have it without infrastructure.” He said roads connecting the capital to most parts of the interior are in such poor state that trips that are supposed to last for four hours, last up to 12 hours.

Vice President Boakai said Liberia lost most of her trained manpower during the conflict, and stressed the need to build the capacities of Liberians to be part of the reconstruction and development of their country.

He also stressed the need for trained teachers, technicians and medical doctors, and hoped the U.S would consider sending retired medical volunteers to render services to the Liberian people. “We lost most of our trained people during the war and it will take a while to retrain them,” he emphasized.

The Liberian Vice President thanked the United States Government for reactivating the Peace Corps Volunteer program, and called for U.S support as the country embarks on the decentralization of its tertiary program.
Responding to a question posed by one of the Congressmen on the Ivorian crisis, Vice President Boakai said at the initial stage, Liberians on the border were willing to accommodate their tribesmen from Ivory Coast. He said the intensification of the conflict has brought with it attendant problems, including lack of medical supplies, food, safe drinking water and infrastructure. 

“We were fortunate that the Guinean political situation was peacefully resolved, because it would have compounded our problems,” he added.

On how the situation in Ivory Coast can be resolved, Vice President Boakai said this rests with Ivorians, especially incumbent Presidential Laurent Gbagbo and the declared winner of the November 28 poll, Alassane Ouattara.
He informed the Congressmen that an ECOWAS meeting is currently taking in Abuja aimed at resolving the Ivorian situation. He said there are fears that military action could spark off reprisal killings of other West African nationals in Ivory Coast, noting that there is an estimated three million Nigerians and more than two million Ghanaians in Ivory Coast.

Other meetings, the Vice President said, are also ongoing to find the best way out of the crisis in Ivory Coast. Vice President Boakai added that all Liberia has to do is secure its long, porous border with Ivory Coast, noting that the UN Mission and state security are all represented at the borders.

In response to a question from one of the Congressmen, Vice President Boakai said he would like to see a stable Liberia that will assume a leading role in Africa.
The head of the delegation, Congressman Peter J. Roskam of Chicago, Illinois lauded the Liberian leadership for the strides it s making in reconstructing the post-war country. 

A member of the delegation, Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. expressed concern that an estimated 90,000 Ivorian have sought refuge in Liberia, especially the post-war country’s ability to handle feeding, medical care and other needs of the refugees.