President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf will today (Wednesday September 21), deliver what is expected to be her second to the last address at the United Nations’ General Assembly in her capacity as President of the tiny West African state. The president’s speech will be followed later by an announcement by Internet Search engine giant Google on the sideline of the UNGA in New York that will provide some relief to the country’s struggling internet data system.(more details in subsequent edition.)
Mrs. Sirleaf is also expected to fully participate in the deliberations at the UNGA 71 as well as engage in high-level meetings and bilateral engagements with foreign leaders and partners on the sidelines of the Assembly.
The 71stUNGAunder the theme “The Sustainable Development Goals: A universal push to transform our world, comes barely three months following the final draw down of UN troops here and the handing of full security to Liberian authorities.
Though the draw down and security transition has been successful so far, there remain concerns amongst the local population over post elections violent in 2017, and have expressed their apprehensions, thereby requesting that UN boots remain on the ground for the 2017 presidential and parliamentary elections.
However, President Sirleaf, who will be speaking on day two of the meeting after United States President Barack Obama and other world leaders have spoken on day one, is expected to unveil to foreign leaders and partnersthe success stories about the smooth transition of security from UN troops here to the Liberian security forces.
The President is also expected to announce her retirement in 2017, as a means of showing off that Liberia is on an irreversible democratic path following the end of more than a decay long civil war, that saw her being elected as the continent’s first female President. She will be ending her second term of office. The Liberian Constitution forbids her from contesting for a third term.
There are anticipations here though, that Mrs. Sirleaf will follow up with repeated request being made through her Foreign Minister MarjonKamara that UN boots remain on the ground to buttress efforts of local security during the 2017 elections in the event of a post-election violent.
Similar call has earlier been made by neighboring La Cote d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara. President Ouattara, early this year vowed to speak with the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki Moon on extending the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia beyond 2016.
President Ouattara stated at the time that his request was to allow the presence of UNMIL forces in Liberia until the 2017 elections are over. In a statement issued months leading to its departure, UNMIL said that it would proceed with the extraction of troops, but would maintain a contingent, 1500 strong, stationed in La Cote d’Ivoire, to be dispatched to Liberia only in the case of extreme need.
But the Ivorian President at the time maintained: “I am sure the UNSG will listen to us.” Mr. Ouattara made the comments when he finally closed a three-day Joint Council of Chiefs and Elders Meeting (JCCEM) between the Republics of Liberia and La Côte d’Ivoire early this year.The Meeting was held in Guiglo, Western, La Côte d’Ivoire.
In addition, to the smooth transition of security and the 2017 elections, there are also expectations that President Sirleaf’s bag may also contain key agendas for discussion as she engages in high-level meetings and bilateral engagements with foreign leaders and partners on the sidelines of the Assembly.
By Othello B. Garblah