Thursday, 16 August 2012

Youths need a future - President of Liberia

The Nobel Peace Prize winner has received her fair share of criticism at home in the form of youth riots and allegations of conflict of interest.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf sees her government's main task as providing an environment that allows the young population to prosper while ensuring that international investors engage with their host communities.

Q: With the recent discovery of oil in Liberia and your admission in the past that corruption at all levels is a problem, how can you ensure transparency when oil revenues will be in the hands of a state company?

A: Let's first of all be very clear about what's happening in the oil sector. There was a discovery, but it still has to be determined whether there are sufficient quantities commercially. By the time they start to drill oil, it will probably be at the end of my administration anyway. However, our responsibility is to ensure that we put in the right laws, the right policies so that the funds from oil will be used for the national interest. We are working – Sierra Leone and Liberia – with the Norwegians to see if we can benefit from some of their experiences, structures and systems. We are working with ASET \[International Oil & Gas Training Academy] and they've already started workshops. And let me say that we've also tackled corruption in almost the same way by adopting different laws, by putting in systems, by putting in structures, by building capacities, by improving compensation. So, today, even though corruption is a problem, it's been addressed and it's largely reduced. Punishment is the only area that we now need to work out with the judiciary.

Q: Already, there have been allegations that appointing your son, Robert Sirleaf, as chairman of the board of the National Oil Company of Liberia is a conflict of interest?

To read the rest of this interview please click on this link to The Africa Report website.

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