New Leadership in Liberia

New Leadership in Liberia

Commentary

3 min read

Liberia's President-elect and former football star George Weahand the country's former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf attend Weah's swearing-in ceremony before a crowd on 22 January, 2018 in Monrovia's stadium.

Expectations for Weah’s administration have been high. Liberians were drawn by his message of greater economic equality, a focus on helping those in poverty and his inspiring success story as an international football star. Explicit policy commitments were difficult to pinpoint throughout the campaign, but in advance of the inauguration, we began to build a picture of the potential areas of focus areas as we engaged with the incoming administration’s transition teams. But with a world watching the country’s first peaceful transition of power in over 70 years, our team, like the global community and many Liberians, were still asking – what are the most pressing issues for this administration?

Speaking to the four campaign pillars on which he won the Presidency – Power to the People, Economy and Jobs, Sustaining the Peace, and Governance and Transparency – President Weah outlined his key concerns. He emphasised his commitment to improving the education system, continuing decentralisation, and reducing corruption. He called for nationwide road construction connecting outer, underdeveloped counties with the centre of the country, suggesting infrastructure will be an early priority of the administration.

Expectations for Weah’s administration have been high among Liberians, who were drawn by his inspiring story.

More unexpectedly, the President called for Constitutional amendments to change citizenship and land ownership rights for foreigners and diaspora dual-citizens in Liberia, arguing for laws that would truly show the country is ‘open for business’ to the world. For an international community watchful for signs of an investment-friendly administration, these were exciting signals.

The President also acknowledged the difficult reality the country faces. The budget is constrained. Debt is increasing, as is inflation and unemployment. But for a population that has fought hard for peace and stability after years of civil war and a devastating Ebola outbreak, the call to action has been welcomed. We are also honoured to be in the country to support the new administration meet the aspirations of their people.

In the coming weeks, we will shifting support to the new Ministers and Deputy Ministers named to Cabinet. And we expect to begin helping the government prioritise what they want to achieve and support the implementation of a 100 day plan. New efficiency measures are also likely to be established as part of efforts to turn the new administration’s vision into reality.

The vision set out is the country so many Liberians hope it will become and we are honoured to be in the country to support the new administration meet the aspirations of their people.

Transitions are never easy for any government; even less so for an administration with high expectations to uphold under such challenging circumstances. But the opportunities are apparent and we are excited to work alongside the new administration to try and meet them at this historic moment.

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