Liberia gaining the world's attention for the right reasons
Liberia, not often in the international news for doing well, seems to be making a concerted effort to redress this trend, suggesting that a period of integrity may be ahead for the continent as a whole; South Africa is hosting the FIFA World Cup, Egypt is cooperating with the international community in opening up its border with Gaza and Liberia’s government is holding its own as an example of the far-reaching effects of good governance and rooting out corruption.
For several decades, Liberia has been of concern to western governments, not just because of the military coup and the two civil wars that ensued, but also because the country, with no fully-functioning central government, became a bastion of corruption that allowed drug smugglers to use the country as a trading post in return for a small fee paid to government officials, who then looked the other way as narcotics were shipped to Europe and then North America.
In the last three years, South American drug lords have set their sights in Liberia especially, but things have changed in the last decade and their plans failed.
Recent reports in Liberia news media showed a stark contrast between the government of the 80s and 90s and the democratic government of today, the contrast is also cathartic in its poignancy.
In late May 2010 it emerged that a group of drug dealers, acting on behalf of South American drug lords, had approached two top Liberian government officials and offered a bride, worth several millions US dollars, in order to secure safe passage for their drugs into the country. One of those men was the Director of the Republic of Liberia National Security Agency and also the son of President Sirleaf.
Liberia has known for several years that attempts were being made to infiltrate the country and had teamed up with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to prevent this happening. The would-be smugglers were therefore apprehended and taken into US custody.
The actions of President Sirleaf’s son are in contrast to those of the son of former president Charles Taylor who even now is at The Hague, facing charges of crimes against humanity during the harsh reign of his father. Charles Taylor’s son faces 97 years in prison for his role in the murders of political adversaries.
According to Liberia news reports, the cocaine shipment the suspects were trying to arrange was worth over $150 million, or around 6000 kilograms of the drug, which was to be shipped to Liberia in three separate arrangements.
When the five suspects, with a sixth currently in custody in Spain, were flown to the US in May it was the first time in three decades that Liberia had extradited suspects to the US on drug-related charges.
When President Sirleaf came to power in 2006 she publicly declared that rooting out corruption would be a corner stone of her presidency. As the first female head of state in Africa, there was widespread criticism across the world and our own continent, that she would not be up to the task in a largely male-dominated arena.
This latest development may then be sign of things to come for Liberia.
“Liberia is now emerging from a part of the reason it has been able to emerge is because of the heroism and courage of President Sirleaf.”
This is high-praise indeed, but it is not down to the president alone, although she has certainly played a leading role in transforming the government of Liberia. Her real test will come in 2011 when a second round of presidential elections are held, these will act as a barometer as to how far along the country’s political development has come.
If there is no violence and no intimidation it will be great success indeed.
There is much work still needed in the country in order to “make Liberia great again” as the president told Liberia news media she would when she was elected. Our judiciary, for so long under the thumb of an authoritarian ruler, needs reform, and after two civil wars and near economic collapse the state’s security apparatus is still dysfunctional.
The Liberian Defense Force consisted of 2,100 soldiers ready for deployment in 2008. This is a reflection of the degree to which the army, navy and air force were rendered inoperable during the civil war. The country is now in the process of entirely rebuilding the military, an integral part in ensuring the country’s security against drug, human and weapons trafficking.
This is essential for our full acceptance as a stable and viable member of the international community. Currently UNMIL, the United Nations Mission in Liberia is charged with providing for security and peace in the country. The government spending on the military amounts to around 1.4% of the GDP, or just over $200 million. This is in-line with democracies around the world, but the country’s ravaged economy renders such spending woefully less than what is needed to rebuild our security infrastructure.
There is hope for Liberia though, not just in the recent successes in clamping down on drug trafficking and leading as an example of good governance, but also in the country’s vast rainforests. It recently emerged in the Liberia news that for our country money may indeed soon grow on trees.
The west produces vast amounts of carbon emissions each year, and as climate change becomes an essential part of any government agenda, there are plans afoot for countries like Liberia to receive money from developed nations in return for preserving our rainforests.
The project, known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) intends to provide financing to over-burdened governments of developing countries to help them protect rainforests that act as sponges for carbon emissions.
Official surveys of the country’s rainforests have not yet been carried out, but with 40% of our country made up of rainforests, we have the ability to soak up between 100 and 300 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare of forest. Provisional estimates for REDD expect that the program may be worth $12 to $26 per ton, which means that the program could bring in $4.6 billion for Liberia even at lowest estimate of $12 per ton of carbon emissions.
This alone is several times the entire current GDP of Liberia.
Therefore, with a developing security infrastructure, a government that has embraced the principles of democracy and good governance and the possibility of our rainforests acting as a cash cow, the future for Liberia seems to be one entirely different to the last few decades.
More Liberia NewsRSS
Liberia's Ambassador to France Mckinley Thomas has praised Liberia's Peace Ambassador George M. Weah for his many valuable contributions to the Liberian peace initiative and to members of the Liberian community in France over the years. Ambassador Thomas said Amb. Weah has manifested care and concern for his people and country by his much personal assistance to Liberians over the time ...
Many of those who spoke to our staff openly expressed disappointment in the manner in which the LACC is conducting its operation, especially bringing to public ridicule those officials that have made it their duties to publicly declare their assets truthfully, although their properties were honestly acquired long before entering government in order to rightfully serve their people and nation. ...
May 25 is African Liberation Day. On this day, many African countries celebrate the hard-fought achievement of their freedom from European colonial ...
Over 200 hundreds residents of Kpan Community in Monrovia on Thursday, May 23, 2013 stormed the grounds of the Capitol Building, to call on members of the 53rd Legislature to intervene in the eviction notice given them (residents) by the Government of Liberia (GOL). The Capitol Building is the seat of the legislature. Kpan Community is located between Camp Johnson Road and Bassa Community on ...
Yassah Edith Mulbah, the eldest sister of murdered victim Garmai Kollie says after her in-law defendant John Kollie on December 4, 2010 allegedly gashed his wife Garmai Kollie (said to be legally married), he allegedly called her (Yassah), asking her to go and remove Garmai's body from the street. In the indictment containing police findings against the defendant, Police said after he was ...
Cllr. Fulton Yancy has called on county authorities to punish individuals who desecratethe cemetery. He said desecration of the cemetery is a crime and offenders must be punished. Cllr. Yancy of the Frederickson Law Firm in Harper, Maryland County, made the observation during the formal opening of the 4th judicial circuit may term of court in Maryland County. He said it was unfortunate that ...
A consultative and inter-active forum aimed at formulating a Communication and Outreach Strategy for the National Elections Communication (NEC) has ended in Monrovia with a call for fairness and transparency in the electoral processes of Liberia. The forum which took placed at the James Fromayan Conference Hall at the headquarters of NEC in Sinkor brought together over 25 participants from ...
International Labor Rights ForumInstitute for Policy Studies Firestone Workers in Liberia Sign Historic Contract
New Contract is a Major Victory for International Campaign Against Firestone WASHINGTON - August 6 - Workers on the ...
Islamist militants set off two suicide bombings in Niger Thursday. One targeted a uranium mine run by a French company. The other hit a military base. About 20 people were killed in addition to the bombers. And Friday, French special forces helped Niger’s military secure the military base, where it turns out two militants were still hiding in a dormitory. They were shot dead in the ...
The jihadist alliance in North Africa has widened its war with attacks in Niger demonstrating the militants are able to causing mayhem across the ...
News from around our Network
Showing 1 thru 3 out of 10More from our network
Showing 4 thru 6 out of 10More from our network
Showing 7 thru 9 out of 10More from our network