Monday, January 16, 2006

Liberia's First Female President Sworn In

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the newly elected President of Liberia, has waited twenty years to witness the will of the people in this country founded in 1847 by emancipated slaves from America.

She waited through the ballot-stuffing and vote destruction that gave Samuel Doe the presidency back in 1985, when she was exiled to Kenya as his political opponent. She witnessed the U.S. recognition of Doe and never forgot the "betrayal" by Washington .

She endured false charges under the next Liberian president Charles Taylor, a man she called a "pathological liar." Johnson-Sirleaf was forced to leave her country again when Taylor accused her of fomenting war. Taylor was later indicted by the U.N. for war crimes against the people of Sierra Leone. In a NY Times guest editorial called "What the U.S. Owes Liberia," published the day Taylor gave up his presidency, Johnson-Sirleaf called upon the Bush administration to look beyond its greed and help set up a transitional government in the absence of a Liberian leader.

Now this Harvard graduate, former finance minister, Citibank director, economist and two time presidential candidate dubbed the "Iron Lady," has entered office as the first female president of Liberia and the only female head of state on the African continent.

In an outdoor inauguration attended by African leaders, U.N. representatives, First Lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Conoleeza Rice, the new leader of Liberia promised peace, unity and an end to graft in the West African country.

Johnson-Sirleaf took the oath of office and
pledged to "wage war against corruption regardless of where it exists or by whom it is practised."

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