Executive Mansion Press Release, Monrovia
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has delivered her annual Christmas message in Monrovia, pointing to progress made by Government in the areas of debt relief, concession agreements including Mittal Steel and the attraction of a large number of investors, with potential for major investment throughout the country in the mining, oil, agriculture and forestry sectors.
The President also spoke of the completion of several draft legislations that will lead to more fiscal discipline, accountability and institutional reform as well as the conclusion of implementation of the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy (iPRS) which has transformed the country’s national vision into a development agenda centered around four critical pillars.
The President noted that despite the progress, several issues have the potential to divert the country from peace and national unity.
On the issue regarding the Liberia Agriculture Company (LAC), the President said Government’s policy has remained constant: “This Government will not forcibly evict any person or groups from their ancestral land. Any relocation of such groups will take place through a process of dialogue and negotiation with dissenters having the right to remain where they are.” The relevant provisions of the much discussed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between government and LAC, the President pointed out, conformed to the policy.
On the labor unrests at Firestone, the President warned that government will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law all those found guilty of violence and destruction on the plantation during the recent labor unrests. The President added that no matter what the grievance, individuals cannot resort to lawlessness and the obstruction of the rights of others. Commenting on the leadership dispute, the President described as incomprehensible the unwillingness of opposing unions to await a Supreme Court ruling of a leadership dispute thereby calling for a strike action on the plantation before the judicial decision is announced.
Regarding the ongoing Firestone agreement, the President said renegotiation of the Firestone Concession Agreement has progressed very well. After the pricing of rubber is finalized, she disclosed, details of the negotiation should be made public.
On the corruption case before the courts, the President made it clear that she cannot intervene in those cases, until the court has rendered judgment. “While is it true that the high profile of these cases relate to past Government officials,’ the President maintained, ‘we have brought charges against corrupt officials and employees of this government; we have relieved several officials and employees of their posts for malpractices.”
The Chief Executive disclosed that several investigations are ongoing that could lead to prosecution of government officials who have violated the public’s trust. The Auditor-General, President Johnson Sirleaf said, has also been given the scope and the support to enable him to commence audits of Government ministries and agencies. The Auditor-General, the President said, is in the process of starting with the Ministry of Finance and the National Social Security Agency.