Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson with President Obama in the Oval Office, vowed "Liberia shall rise again." Photo/CD Brown.
Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson visited the White House on Thursday for talks with President Obama.
Liberia has had its share of problems. A nation devastated by war, people displaced, a broken infrastructure, and dysfunctional institutions. In the midst of all that, it is the children who have suffered the most.
But the country has been making successful strides, to which Sirleaf credits the involvement of the United States.
"I come today on behalf of the Liberian people to say that we’ve made a lot of progress in that commitment. We’ve been able to maintain peace for seven years now. And I say that today, our children who are entering first grade have known -- not known a gun and not had to run, and that’s great progress", said Sirlfeaf. Adding, "We could not have achieved the progress that we have had if we had not had the support in those initial days when we were just scrambling and looking for the ways to be able to go forward. The U.S. was there as a great partner."
President Obama told the Sirleaf that the U.S. remains committed to the country, calling the U.S. and Liberia, "close friends, and long-standing partners."
The U.S. is working with Liberia on on a food initiative that will help to create greater food security and independence in the country, and continues to work with the Liberian government on issues like maternal health and education. The U.S. has invested millions in Liberia's Education Trust organization.
Liberia's legislative and presidential elections will take place next year in 2011.
President Sirleaf overcame her own personal struggles, having been a prisoner in her country, to becoming Liberia's (and the continent's) first female President. Her story mirrors that of Nelson Mandela, who also was jailed in his homeland, and later became president.
President Obama, stating that Sirleaf is "committed to rule of law" praised Sirleaf and said "her legacy is that she will continue to usher in a sense that democracy as the regular way of doing business in Liberia", calling her work in the country an example for countries like Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire and Niger to follow.