President Sirleaf Addresses African Partnership Conference in Accra

Sunday, 14th January 2007
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the African Partnership Conference in Accra, Ghana.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the African Partnership Conference in Accra, Ghana.
Photo Credit: Adama B. Thompson, Executive Mansion
Monrovia, Liberia - The second Partnership Conference of high-ranking African and German representatives has ended in the Ghanaian Capital, Accra, with a call by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the adoption of concrete measures that would reduce the potential for conflicts in societies.

The President spoke of the need for collaboration among all Stake Holders to achieve the desired objectives.  The President said Stake Actors; the Civil Society and the Private Sector  must work together despite the differences in their objectives and their manner of operation. Such differences and the tackling of contentious issues regarding social order and development, the President noted, must be handled in the spirit of partnership; otherwise, she cautioned, each stakeholder can potentially be a source of violence.

Touching on the political situation in the country, the President recalled that the Liberian civil conflict did not start in 1980, nor did it start in December 1989.

The Liberian conflict, President Johnson Sirleaf recalled, is historically rooted in policies of exclusion, marginalization, disenfranchisement of the population, and the unequal distribution of the wealth and resources of the nation. As a result, the President observed, Liberia faces grave socio-economic and political challenges.

“The story of Liberia is neither new nor unique,” the Liberian leader reminded the gathering. “Our challenge therefore, is to minimize or reduce conflicts in our society by addressing the internal or root causes of conflicts – poverty and exclusion,” the President reiterated.

The President spoke of efforts being made by her government to tackle the social and political inequalities, through the formulation of concrete programs aimed at addressing the issue. The President spoke of the launching of the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Program (IPRSP), as one of the initiatives to confront and deal with the fundamental causes of conflict in Liberia.

The overall effect of a successful implementation of the IPRSP, the President said, would be a massive creation of jobs that pay living wages to our people, driven largely by the public sector, through labor intensive work programs in construction, agriculture, modest macro-credits to small Liberian businesses, for the medium and longer terms. The intent the President said, is to create private sector jobs in the agricultural, manufacturing, mining and forestry sectors.  Significant expansion in micro-finance activities, the President emphasized, would also be initiated to trigger broad-based employment opportunities. adding, ‘the overall objective is to reduce poverty, thereby restoring the dignity of the individual, and strengthening the foundation for national stability.

The Conference, “Partnership with Africa” brought together African and German representatives from politics, research, business and civil society. It was attended by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany Horst Kohler, at whose initiative the first Forum was convened two years ago in Bonn. Other leaders participating at the Forum were the Presidents of Liberia, Benin, Nigeria, Botswana, and the host country, Ghana, as well as the President of the African Union Commission, Dr. Alpha Oumar Konare, and Dr. Mohammed Chambas, the President of the ECOWAS Commission.

The President and delegation, which included the Ministers of Youth and Sports, Planning, and the Deputy Ministers of Information and Labor, as well as the President of the Federation of Liberian Youths, Mr. George Wisner, are back in the country. The delegation returned Sunday evening.