Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said she will stand for re-election in 2011, ending speculation over her future despite a proposed ban on her taking part in politics by the nation’s truth commission.
Johnson-Sirleaf, who came to power as Africa’s first female president after 2005 elections, has won much international praise for her role in rebuilding Liberia after the country’s 1989-2003 war left the West African nation in tatters.
“I have spent the past four years, sometimes to the neglect of family and friends, building the foundations upon which our economic recovery and our future prosperity will be based,” she told parliament yesterday.
“Whatever I do, it will be for you. And so it is for these reasons and to bring to an end all speculation, that I now announce to you that I will be a candidate, a formidable candidate, in the 2011 elections,” she said.
Last year, Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission said Johnson-Sirleaf should be banned from public office for 30 years for backing a rebellion led by former President Charles Taylor. The incumbent said she had provided Taylor with money but said she had been misled into supporting him.
Taylor is on trial in The Hague for war crimes including murder, rape, conscripting child soldiers and sexual slavery during the interlinked wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone in which more than 250 000 people were killed.
Johnson-Sirleaf did not directly comment yesterday on the commission’s proposed ban, saying instead that while not everyone agreed with the commission’s findings, the body made important recommendations for progress in the country.
“It is therefore important that we carefully digest the report and make a conscious national determination to move ahead cautiously and strategically in the implementation of the recommendations,” she said.
The Commission was established in 2005 to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity. As well as Johnson-Sirleaf, its report names another 49 people it says either participated in or financed the rebellion and should be banned from office for 30 years.
The commission does not have the power to enforce its recommendations, but must present them to parliament which may subsequently enact them as legislation.
Some investors are cautiously looking for opportunities in Liberia, though the pace of reform has been slow.
Pic: Liberian President- Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf