The Weight of First | Pres. Johnson Sirleaf


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 17:13 PM EDT, 3 February 2012

MONROVIA - Liberia's re-elected President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who is the first and only female President in Africa, has named the first ministers of her new cabinet on Thursday.  She appointed new finance and foreign affairs ministers but retained her defense minister.

President Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Laureate, has vowed to continue to implement the changes she initiated during her first term.  She was sworn in for a second term in power this week and is being watched by her countrymen and the world to see if she will be more aggressive in her efforts to eradicate the corruption which plagues Liberia and other African nations.

She has also promised to cut poverty and high youth unemployment which is rampant in a nation that has been besieged by protracted nine year civil war. U.N. peacekeepers have overseen the country's security since the end of some 14 years of war in 2003. But the world body is under pressure to end the costly, 9,000-strong mission.

Foreign investors compound the issue of high unemployment and housing shortages by importing workers and seizing control of land. Under her governance, more foreign corporations have been awarded the right to harvest trees for lumber often displacing residents and leaving the terrain vulnerable to run off and mudslides.

This type of Neo-Colonialism is spreading across the Continent as Western countries seek to openly exploit the vast natural resources of Africa. Liberia is mineral rich and since the discovery of vast oil reserves off of its Coastal shelf it is poised for exploitation and the resultant corruption that can occur when multinational petroleum companies strike deals with the government.

President Johnson Sirleaf must remain vigilant against the type of exploitation that occurs in Nigeria's oil and gas industry. In the Delta region of Nigeria, the environment is extremely polluted as the country does not enforce any environmental protections regulations. The citizenry's health and lifestyles are also adversely impacted by lax and sometimes criminal disregard for how these companies drill and dispose of the oil and gas.

We congratulate Liberia in re-electing the first female African President and look forward to seeing what she can accomplish in her second term.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias