ISS Today: Liberia’s next president has a mountain to climb

By Fonteh Akum for ISS TODAY.

On 10 October, over two million Liberians will vote for a new president. As historic as the election of Africa’s sole female president was, so is Liberia’s first presidential transition through democratic elections since the end of the 14-year civil war in 2003.

The 20 contenders vying to replace President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf echo the campaign pledges she made on the trail in 2005 to end corruption and promote development. However, none of them share the type of career in both national and international public service that initially lent her credibility.

Unfortunately Johnson Sirleaf’s inability to effectively tackle corruption, improve livelihoods and promote national reconciliation has depleted the ruling Unity Party’s political capital, while making it harder for the other candidates to campaign on credentials and promises.

When Johnson Sirleaf took office in 2006 at age 67, she exhorted Liberians to roll up their sleeves and join her in the task of post-war reconstruction. She prioritised four areas – peace and security; economic revitalisation and consolidation; governance and the rule of law; and infrastructural renovation. These have become the yardsticks by which her presidency has been judged.

The presence of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) with about 15 000 UN military personnel and 1 115 UN police officers gave her the security guarantees to embark on her reconstruction agenda.

Economically, she renegotiated Liberia’s Governance and Economic Management Assistance Programme (GEMAP) with its international partners. Implemented between 2006 and 2010, GEMAP sought to help Liberia improve overall economic governance by institutionalising financial and asset management policies and procedures, and containing corruption.

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Source: News Now / ISS Today

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About Cholo Brooks 17512 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.