Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh appears to be enjoying being in the middle of controversies of late, at least not months after reports that he allegedly attacked his own government of corruption, while speaking in the United States.
And so Monday September 21, 2015 was one of such moments when he told audience at the signing of a grant agreement held at the National Elections Commission or NEC that the Presidency is not for criminals and buffoons but for people who have prepared themselves to serve the Liberian people.
He did not name the individuals he referred to as criminals and buffoons though, but his latest comment comes as the number of individuals vying for the presidency in 2017continue to increase by the day with many having no leadership record or experience to begin with.
At the program, Mr. Konneh said gone are those days when criminals and buffoons occupied the Liberian Presidency, plunging the resources and creating serious political mess for the country. He said, this time around, Liberians will elect people, who believe in democracy, the mere rock foundation for development, noting that development is the foundation for stability.
The program was the signing ceremony for Euros 10 Million and US$1 million, respectively from the European Union and UNDP to the NEC to help fund elections activities here between now and the 2017 elections. Minister Konneh praised President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the level of leadership over the years.
According to him, since 1944 when former President Barclay turned over constitutional power to ex-President William V.S. Tubman, no other Liberian President has done so, but with the support of every citizen, President Johnson Sirleaf will peacefully relinquish office in 2018 to another elected President.
He maintained that achievement of such goal requires the collective support of every Liberian and international partners, who have always been there in maintaining peace and stability. The Finance boss reminded that the future of the country squarely rests in the hands of the National Elections Commission that performed over the years despite low budgetary support.
He recalled that the 2005 Presidential and General Elections received more donor support than the 2011 elections when not much funding came into the country. Konneh stressed that the impending elections in 2017 will become a determining factor that should be of great concern to everyone.
Speaking also at the program, the Co-chairperson of NEC, Cllr. Sarah Toe, described the donation as timely, noting that the funds would go a long way in strengthening the NEC as the country prepares for elections in 2017 and a possible national referendum in 2016, respectively.
The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General and Resident Coordinator of UNDP to Liberia, Antonio Vigilante, said the UN family is proud to be a partner in the democractalization process which will gradually help Liberia maintain its peace and security.
Mr. Vigilante said the funds provided are intended to strengthen the Commission thru capacity building. EU Ambassador Tiina Intelmann, said, the European Union places great importance to democracy in Liberia that had suffered long period of civil wars.
According to her, the European Union is working with the Sirleaf administration to improve democracy here and urged the NEC to adequately prepare ahead of the 2017 polls. Ambassador Intelmann called for level-playing field for all candidates and political parties, adding that it is vital to ensuring stability of the State and smooth conduct of the elections.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor – Edited by Jonathan Browne