Ellen: I’m beyond campaigning for people
By Winston W. Parley
Former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has told politicians here ahead of the 2023 elections that she is beyond campaigning for people, but she’s available to advise anyone on their vision and strategies.
In a live interview conducted on state broadcaster ELBC Thursday by her former Information Minister Rev. Dr. Laurence Bropleh, Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf said her strength is not to campaign for one person who wants to be whatever.
“I have gone beyond campaigning for people. Right now I campaign for international issues, global issues. That’s where my strength is,” said former President Johnson-Sirleaf.
Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf said she will advise anyone who will seek her opinion on their vision and strategies, no matter who they are, or what party they come from.
Amb. Joseph Nyumah Boakai, her former vice president for two six years presidential terms, is seeking the presidency on the Unity Party ticket.
Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf peacefully handed power to incumbent President George Manneh Weah in January 2018 after Mr. Boakai lost the run-off election.
At some points there were visible sour relationships between Mrs. Johnson-Srielaf and Mr. Boakai during and after the 2017 elections amidst claims that she allegedly supported President Weah and his Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
During the interview on 6 October 2022, Mrs. Johnson – Sirleaf said she has been deactivated from the Unity Party involuntarily.
“I have been deactivated involuntarily, but that’s not my problem. That’s not my issue. But let it be known to everybody that I have been, I am and I’ll always be Unity Partisan. Nobody can change that one,” said Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf.
The former president insisted that she will always be a partisan of UP.
Talking generally about the politics in the country, she cautioned that it should be peaceful and issues – based, rather than personalities.
“Politics should be peaceful; that politics should be about issues, not about personalities. Politics should be about those who can have a vision for the improvement of the country,” said former President Sirleaf.
She expressed the hope that politics can be about unity, warning that if unity of purpose is lacking, you find fragmentations.
She explained that fragmentations affect the strength of the body in being able to build the popularity to have the support of the partisans and to expand their level.
She therefore advised all the politicians here “to get with it,” take their message to the people which will help them to win.
Touching the issue of rape, former President Johnson-Sirleaf said rape continues to be a problem in Liberia.
She explained that during her administration, a law was passed making rape a non-bailable offense.
She said so many people were arrested and jailed, but the legal system worked so slowly that many of them could not be fully charged and tried to face a penalty.
Due to the legal system, she said there were so many complaints coming up about many people being held in jail beyond the statutory period.
“So what it says is that we have to do more,” said Mrs. Sirleaf.
Beyond the legal side, she said she thinks when there is a rapist in a community, people should name and shame the culprit and put their photograph on a wall for people to see it.
Former President Johnson- Sirleaf thanked all the women organizations, including the Female Lawyers Association, that have been following all of the rape cases.
She appealed that the discussions must continue in the communities.
Talking about free speech, Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf noted that she believes and promotes free speech.
But she suggested that within the confines of free speech, “you can still be a person that can contribute toward the positive image of your country.”
She cautioned that you can contribute toward doing more and taking more responsibility.
The former president noted that Liberia is doing well democratically, looking at the fact that people do have freedom of speech.