Visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Ambassador LindaThomas- Greenfield, says America has no candidate in any outside elections, and, and that her current visit here ahead of Liberia’s pending general and presidential elections should not frighten opposition political parties and politicians.
“No, that’s not my job to put fear in opposition party …. I tell everyone; I am Assistant Secretary of State for Africa now; we don’t have a candidate for any election,” the U.S. official told an interview with Executive Mansion reporters on Sunday, 15 May at the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County.
Upon arrival here, she clearly told reporters that the only candidate America is interested in is the people and democracy, and wants to see Liberia continues on the tracks of democracy and improve on it, while ensuring “free, fair and transparent elections, moving forward.”
Ambassador Greenfield says she is in the country to listen, advise and to support, while assuring U.S.’ continued commitment to Liberia. “We’re committed to Liberia’s future. We want to stand with Liberia as you move forward and build on the successes that you’ve had and help you deal with challenges that you [will have] in the future,” she said.
Later on Monday, 16 May, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf joined by her national security chiefs and Ambassador Greenfield launched a new joint- partnership development to develop anational security radio communication network.
The national security radio network is aimed at further strengthening the efficiency and effectiveness of Liberian civilian security agencies, and provides them the necessary communication infrastructures to help protect Liberians and bring perpetrators of violence to justice.
During the launch on Monday, Amb. Greenfield stressed that, of key importance is that the Liberian Government will assume ownership and significant responsibility for the success of the project. As UN peacekeepers drawdown from Liberia in phases, U.S. envoy said, “We know that your budget remains tight …,” though she expressed confidence that Liberia can take over its security.
“I’m confident that the National Police will ably respond to security incidents throughout the country,” she said, while suggesting that “further reforms and decentralization and logistical capability enhancement are required.”
Amb. Greenfield said the national security radio communication network project represents continued strong U.S. commitment to seeing the people and Government of Liberia succeed, strengthening the security sector to provide a safe and secured environment for the people of Liberia and to representatives of the special partnership between Liberia and the U.S.
Earlier, President Sirleaf described the project as a milestone, saying she believes it is the first in the history of Liberia, noting that it will enable Liberia at this critical time to prepare itself on important events that will be taking place over the next couple of years.
While acknowledging that Liberia is trying to meet a lot of milestones, President Sirleaf said the fact that the national security radio communication network is one of the milestones of the UNMIL drawdown, this time with the support of the U.S., it takes Liberia further along the path of its own readiness to take ownership of national security.
“… And we know that it’s time for that; and we’ve welcomed it and we’re trying to prepare ourselves. So a big thanks to you and all the colleagues who have been able to work on this to bring it to this point of fruition,” she told Amb. Greenfield.
President Sirleaf’s National Security Advisor Dr. H. BoimaFahnbulleh had earlier said the key component of the project is to link the entire country whereby security agencies will [coordinate] effectively in implementing the rule of law and also upgrade services throughout the country.
He said, “We have” gone through the first phase of the program which has to do with linking of eight counties, including Grand Cape Mount and Montserrado, as he announced some $5.5m funding towards the project.
As at Monday, May 16, he said a Memorandum of Understanding or MOU has been signed with LIBTELCO to position “our” equipment. Over the next couple of months, he says various security agencies including the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, National Security Agency, Executive Protection Service, police and others will communicate with each other throughout the land, first ever.
He concluded that the second phase will be taken to southeast Liberia, to be followed by the northwestern counties in an effort to connect the entire country. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield served as the first African-American female Ambassador to Liberia under the Obama Administration. She served here during the entire first term of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne