Liberia prexy pleads for unity, but justifies police closure of TV/Radios
After winning over 90 percent of Tuesday’s presidential runoff boycotted by her challenger Winston Tubman, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has invited her political opponents and other citizens to a national dialogue, in order to unite the country.
In an address to the nation on Thursday, President Sirleaf said, political leaders have a special and a greater responsibility to bring the Liberian people together, and to cement what she called, the "false divides".
She announced the setting up of a national peace and reconciliation initiative to start the dialogue.
This will be chaired by one of Liberia’s two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, Leymah Gbowee. Sirleaf is also one of the three winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, which was announced by the Nobel Committee on the eve of the first round of the October 11 presidential election.
“Today, I urge all of us to move on and look to the future with courage and hope. There is so much work ahead. Together, we can lift Liberia to meet the needs and aspirations of all its citizens.
We must get back to the task of building our basic infrastructure, creating jobs, and bringing electricity and clean water to more and more homes. We must get back to the task of educating our children, providing health services and teaching our young people the skills they need help build our country. We must get back to the great task of development and progress,” President Sirleaf told the nation.
Meanwhile, the Liberian leader defended her government’s action to shut down three private radio and TV stations on Monday, but said her administration would continue to do everything to ensure that every Liberian’s fundamental civil and human rights are protected.
“The right to publicly disagree, without fear of reprisal or intimidation, is a value that we must continue to uphold. It is one of the cornerstones of democracy. That right cannot and will never be threatened or endangered by this Administration. However, in this fragile post-conflict environment, we must exercise these rights with a great sense of responsibility. We paid a high price to get to where we are,” Sirleaf said in her speech on Thursday.
She indicated that her government was only using the police to effect a court order urging: “The court process is now under way. We call on all our citizens to allow the legal process to run its course.“
At the same time, the Liberian leader has announced the setting up of an independent committee headed by a veteran Catholic Nun and President of the Stella Marice Polytechnic in Monrovia, Sister Mary Laurene Browne to investigate last Monday violence in the capital in which at least one person was killed.