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Liberia – America’s Stepchild

Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the West African coast. It is bordered by Sierra Leone to its west, Guinea to its north and Ivory Coast to its east. It covers an area of 111,369 square kilometers and has a population of 4,503,000 people. English is the official language and over 20 indigenous languages are spoken, representing the numerous tribes who make up more than 95% of the population. The country’s capital and largest city is Monrovia.

Liberian flag

Liberia is subdivided into 15 counties, each of which are entitled to their own flag. Each county flag bears the national flag of Liberia in the canton. The county flags are flown at regional offices and together encircling the national flag of Liberia at the Presidential Palace.

As a nation, Liberia has had some of the worse politicians and leaders in history, beginning with Charles Taylor, a bloody dictator whose quest for power left no stone unturned.  The story of Liberia goes as far back as the slave periods in North America, but the country most terrible story began in 2006 when corruption, shameless public theft, nepotism and careless management not only exceeded human imagination, but wrongly positioned the country on the path to an unacceptable culture.  To understand Liberia, its founding and the present day realities of why a few are looting from the many, watch the video below.

Liberia’s president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf watches as the country descends in leadership, political, social and economic chaos 

Even as Liberians thought having a woman president would have solved their problems, neither did they know that their problems were going to become far worse than they have ever been.   In the country, the executive branch is corrupt and inept, the legislature is useless, and the judiciary is undeserving but better than the other two branches of government.

The country is in chaos and the president either does not care or has no clue.  Yet, she the president, the ever-praised and accolades-collecting leader in Africa’s history, even as the country declines and fails economically, socially, legally and morally.  The unethical legislature is seeking to impeach the judiciary (three members of the Supreme Court of five) and the overly excessive judiciary is placing an order of prohibition on the impeachment process.   In the midst of these upheavals, what happens next? The poor people continue to suffer, kids lack prevent care, and parents are unable to support their children and for that reason many young girls are forced to become sex slaves to survive financially and be able to support their parents in a country where drumbeat about being the first women elected president in Africa is unceasing.

What if that fantasy “accomplishment” could be narrated the other way around, that under a woman president the hopes of Liberian girls has disappeared, more sexual violence and abuse (involving even the president’s personal security personnel and officials of government) has occurred than in any time in the country’s history, and poverty amongst women has increased than the country has ever seen, and the future of million of children has become bleak.  Why will someone and a group of people who gained state power and accumulated tremendous wealth on the backs of the poor and suffering people (and through the instigation of violence) want to leave state power by leaving behind another form of chaos?  What was the rationale for this whole “Code of Conduct” fiasco?  Why did the Liberian presidency develop a sense of bribing the legislative branch to pass conflict-inducing regulations, acts, bills or laws?   Being president means the ball stops with the president.  The president either fixes this mess or be blamed for its effects.

In 12 years, the poor people in the slums and rural settings of Liberia have felt no change.  No electricity, no safe drinking water; the roads or highways are bad, the educational system is terrible, unemployment is astronomical and job security is an imagination, poverty is extreme, and social, religious and tribal divisions are emerging with their ugly faces, all because of the uncontrollable desire of a few.  This is Liberia, a Liberia with a woman president who has won all of the awards–from a noble peace prize to everything.  But all is not lost.  There is always hope and the best way to proceed is for the president to be an honest broker by ensuring that the Liberian election becomes free and fair, by not interfering in ways that are or will be counter-productive.  If not, there is a solution and it must come from the Liberian people and the international community.

Should the international community propose an interim government, dissolving all three branches of government or should the chaos, fueled by bad governance, economic greed and selfishness, and disorderly leadership, continue?  This is the ethical question to Liberians and the international community.  Answers to these questions are the defining moments in Liberia’s present history, that either the country continues to be a failed state after 12 years, or chooses a new and better path.

 

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