Liberia Prepares for 161st Independence Anniversary-Weekly Press Briefing

Monday, 21st July 2008
Members of the Press:

Welcome again to our regular Press Briefing, Monday, July 21, 2008.

This week marks the 161st Independence Anniversary of our country and as such the President, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, will be leading a number of government initiatives to mark the occasion.

The celebrations began yesterday with an intercessory service in Kakata, Margibi County.  They continue on Tuesday with the President leading a number of Government officials at the dedication and/or inspection of a number of projects including the Liberia Renaissance Education Complex in Juazon, the Mabahm Administrative Building, the Kakata City Hall and Annex as well as an elementary school in Mende, in Margibi County. The President will also break grounds for the construction of a National Cultural Center in Gbanndo Town, Margibi County onTuesday and dedicate the Science & Technology Building at the Booker Washington Institute (BWI), among others.

As part of this yearís celebration, Liberia will receive a number of former presidents of Africa under the umbrella of the Africa Forum.  The Forum is an association of former African presidents dedicated to the promotion of good governance throughout Africa. As part of its interactive exercise, the group has chosen Liberia for a visit, which was scheduled in July to coincide with the country's 161st independence Day.  Former President of the Mozambique and chairman of the Africa Forum, Mr. Joaquin Chissano, is expected to attend as well as former President of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda; former President of Namibia, Dr. Sam Nujoma; former President of Benin, Mr. Nicephore Soglo; and Benjamin Nkapa, former President of Tanzania.  While in the country, the Forum participants will engage members of the Liberian Government, including the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary in interactive sessions.

This yearís Orator, as you may know, is Dr. Sakui Malakpa, a Liberian who is a Braille specialist, a distinguished scholar and academician at the Ohio State University in the United States.

On Wednesday, July 22nd, the President will dedicate the Mabahm Administrative Building in Margibi County.

The 161st Independence Anniversary has been marred by floods which Sunday affected several homes and left a number of our citizens homeless. The President on Sunday toured one of the affected areas, including King Gray, for a first hand assessment. There, she made available food items and mattresses to assist the victims.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ministry of Public Works are undertaking an assessment to determine the cause of the floods and its environmental impact.  The General Services Agency (GSA) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) have been directed to undertake an assessment of the affected areas to determine what level of assistance Government can render the flood victims.

The President is, meanwhile, encouraging business houses, agencies and other individuals with the means to assist the victims in whatever form as they deal with the effects of the flood.

Finally, we like to share with you recently released figures by the World Bank in which Liberia has shown improvement in the control of corruption.  Liberia, according to the World Bank, has shown the largest improvement of any country in the world in controlling corruption over the last two years.  We have the statistics, and will be happy to share them with you following the briefing.

Thank you.