=Monrovia – Counting less than 20 days to elections in Liberia, outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says her stepping from power should be a strong signal to her colleagues in Africa that it is time for generational change and young people should be given the opportunity to lead.
President Sirleaf made the statement in an interview with CNN Christiane Amanpour
“I’m sending a strong signal; not only should we respect the Constitution and the law, but it also says it’s time for generational change.”
“We have young people that are vying for leadership, that have the capacity, that have the passion and the capability and it’s time for them to take over and we've to make way for them and if we are going to practice democracy which we all want to do and we all strive for do, the we’ve got to do it by example,” she said.
In Liberia, 20 candidates including President Sirleaf’s 73-year-old vice president are contesting the presidential election which is slated for October 10.
The President’s call for young leadership renews doubts over her support for the presidential bid of her vice president who has also been her long standing friend.
Last Saturday, President Sirleaf failed to attend the election rally of Vice President Joseph Boakai who is contesting on the same party that brought Pres. Sirleaf to power.
She said in an interview the day prior to rally that she had made a commitment to women in Bomi County where she hails from that she would be breaking ground for the construction of a clinic in the area.
“Thousands of people go rally, thousands of partisans go to rallies, not many people spend their time going way to a rural village to break ground for a clinic for a community that has never had it."
"If that’s a wrong priority in the views of some, I accept their view, I respect their view,” Pres. Sirleaf said in an interview with the Cyrus/Pat Fame Show on Thursday.
She added: “They have been coming to my farm, working with my farmers to plant rice, to cut rice and all of that."
"They’ve been asking me about this clinic and I promised them we’ll start this clinic before my administration ends, so I committed that I will come there to break ground.”
She said she could not fail to meet the commitment because - “These people stay in rural areas and they’ll be there waiting for me; maybe it may even be raining and they’ll go through that type of thing; I think it will not be well for me to just send a message to them.”
Vice President Boakai in a FrontPageAfrica/VOA interview the same week was quizzed on whether there was a problem within the Unity Party and if the President’s support is necessary.
He said - “I don’t have any problem with anybody. I have differences with people on the way they think, they want things to happen. I cannot say I do not need support from a partisan of the Unity Party.”
“All partisans of the Unity Party, including the President, their contributions to the ruling party are welcome."
"So, how can I say a President who has been at the helm of this body for twelve years, how can I say, I won’t need her help – if it’s not forthcoming, well…But I cannot say I don’t need it. I need everybody’s support.”
Mr. Boakai agreed that it was obvious for the sitting President to fully support and cheerlead the candidate of his/her party, but maintained that support for his presidency has not been forthcoming from the President – at least at this point in time.
“That would have been an obvious situation but I’m not complaining about it."
"The party is moving forward. As and when people decide to contribute, we welcome it."
"Some people want to begin early, some people want to begin in the middle, we’re still waiting for those who want to come in at the time they want to do so,” he said.