According to an Executive Mansion release, Ambassador Elder spoke recently when she presented her Letter of Credence to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the Foreign Ministry in Monrovia. In the words of Ambassador Elder, President Sirleaf has demonstrated vision and courage in addressing the challenges to Liberia’s progress, especially in the areas of education, security, and governance.
She applauded each effort by the Liberian government to bring to light corrupt practices that cripple Liberia’s prospects for growth and threaten the vital trust between a society and the state amid continuing, comprehensive, and transparent effort to combat this very serious problem, which the American Envoy said she believes can be a seminal moment in Liberia’s journey to sustainable peace and prosperity.
Ambassador Elder who arrived in the country to take up her new assignment noted the need to celebrate the close relationship between the Unites States and Liberia in the wake of the visit of the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, to be followed by a delegation from the United States Congress. She observed that these crucial trips reflect a reaffirmation of the long history between the United States and Liberia. “These high-level contacts are also a reflection of the very high esteem in which leaders in the United States and round the world hold you, Madame President,” – the U.S. Ambassador pointed out.
The American third successive female Ambassador since the ascendancy of President Sirleaf to the helm of power indicated that she arrived at a crucial point in Liberia’s history especially as UNMIL continues its long-envisioned transfer of security responsibilities to Liberia’s forces, and discussions accelerate regarding what the future configuration of the United Nations in Liberia will be.
She said throughout our process, the United States has remained committed to working with Liberia to strengthen and professionalize its security forces. She said the United States was proud of its contributions to help establish the Armed Forces of Liberia as a military committed to civilian rule and as a force for good and added that through USAID and INL programs the U.S. has helped Liberia to strengthen its Justice system, National Police, its Drug Enforcement Agency, Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, and Prison system.
Amid Liberia’s Presidential election, Ambassador Elder renewed the United States’ commitment to strongly work with the administration of President Sirleaf and the people of Liberia to help ensure a just and peaceful transfer of power. She said Liberia is ready and capable of doing so.
Commenting on the National Elections Commission (NEC), she said the electoral body has proven its ability to carry out free and fair elections but urged - they will face new challenges as they mobilize logistical infrastructure previously available through UNMIL. Said Ambassador Elder: “Our Mission has already begun planning and implementing our election-related programs and will expand our programming as the elections draw near”.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Elder says the United States recognizes that one of the greatest challenges facing Liberia is re-establishing the economic growth interrupted by Ebola. This she intimated is not just an issue of recovery, but also an issue of depressed world markets for the commodity sectors upon which Liberia depends. The United States, said is making a significant contribution to this recovery through the Millennium Challenge Corporation compact to support rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee power plant and revitalization of roads key to increasing markets. “To complement the Compact, we will align roads programs under USAID and power program under Power Africa. I commit to you that I will seek the necessary support to repair the runway at Roberts International Airport as a vital link to economic growth” – she reassured.
She said the United States’ cooperation with Liberia and its neighbors on health programs has been unparalleled in the modern era; indicating that the Ebola PREVAIL studies show an excellent example of what can be achieved through cooperation on crucial research to benefit not only Liberia, but the world. “The opening in Liberia of a permanent presence of the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reflects our long-term commitment to working with Liberia to strengthen the health system. Under the Global Health Security Agenda, we expect to work with Liberia in fulfilling a comprehensive five-year plan, including expanding essential lab capacity and developing protocols for rapid reaction to emerging infectious diseases” noted. Ambassador Elder said through thePEPFAR Program, the United States was able to augment medical education through a new Peace Corps Program that will bring doctors and nurses to Liberia to train medical personnel.
Touching on education, the U.S. diplomat assured that the visit of First Lady, Michelle Obama will further echo President Sirleaf’s sentiments on education and highlight the importance of equal access to education for all members of Liberian society. According to the U.S. Envoy, Liberia will prosper only through an educated workforce. The United States, she pointed out - will support Liberia’s education efforts through its USAID and Peace Corps programs.
Concluding, she said the key to ensuring Africa and Liberia’s youth bulge becomes a powerful asset, versus a challenge, is to educate this generation to become a capable workforce attracting private industries that will productively engage citizens who feel a responsibility to contribute to making their communities and public sector operate more transparently and efficiently.