ELLEN JOHNSON-SIRLEAF: THE CHALLENGES AHEAD

By Joseph S. Sherman

Washington, DC U.S.A

 Wednesday  February 8, 2006

 From the early 80’s to the present, like many- post-independence African countries, Liberia is going through tremendous socio-economic and political challenges.  This is due mainly to years of misrule, corruption and a dreadful civil war that pillage the entire socio-economic and cultural sector.  The deteriorating economic and social sector has also created a huge vacuum for any political leader or enterprising organization to revitalize.

 The crucial question for the present government  is how to promote and revive the economic and social sector of the country through people’s participation in the strategies, policies and programs that affect their lives. Participation means contributing to and benefiting from and taking part in decision making about development.  The high poverty rate in the country has prevented the people from developing their full capabilities and from participating in the socio-economic development of the country, consequently, the vast majority of the poor in the country contribute little, they benefit little and have no influence over decisions that affect their lives.  They therefore, are in danger of receiving little respect and the tendency arises of been sidetracked in the democratic process and development of Liberia.

 Government also needs to empower communities and their representatives if a rural development strategy is to be achieved.  Women should play an active role in the reconstruction process.  Supporting grass-root organizations and leadership among Liberian women will guarantee that their interests are adequately defended.  The nation reconstruction process also requires cooperation between the central government and its local representatives, as well as community and tribal leaders in the counties.  These relationships based on mutual interest devoid of partisan affiliation needs to be adequately pursued if growth and development is to be realized.

 The goal of post-war Liberia should not be simply to prosecute alleged architects of the notorious civil war, but to use these concepts as means to prevent future conflicts and provide human security as necessary public good.  Without peace and stability there can be no sustainable human development, and security should not be dealt with increased funding for the military but through a genuine national reconciliation that addresses the sources of corruption, inequality, and grievances existing in Liberia today.   Justice and stability must be dealt with simultaneously.

 Finally, the government should recognize the challenges ahead, including those of providing livelihoods for all Liberians.  Curbing corruption, extending reconstruction to all the counties, attracting foreign investors in a safe and secure environment, freedom of the press without intimidation, should remain the top priority of the government as the nation enters its new phase of a democratic process.

 About Author: Joseph S. Sherman (MIP, MSA) was a broadcast journalist of the erstwhile ELCM Radio, Monrovia, Liberia, and former general editor of FOOTPRINT newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone. At present he is the Features Editor of Cocorioko online newspaper in the U.S.A and Director of an adult Education Center in Washington, DC

 

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