LEGAP Will Save Us From Ourselves - Says Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

By Sidiki Trawally

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
July 8, 2005


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One of Liberia’s leading presidential candidates says the highly debated Liberian Economic Governance Action Plan (LEGAP) is not a trusteeship, but rather a financial plan that will “save us from ourselves.”

Commenting for the first time on the controversial issue, which has ignited widespread debate among Liberians and their partners at home and abroad, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf shrugged off the notion that the plan will put the country under foreign leadership and take away her sovereignty.

“We need to understand the nature of the proposal which is not truly a trusteeship,” the Unity Party Standard bearer cautioned, indicating that if LEGAP were about a trusteeship, which is the administrative control exerted by a foreign country or institution over a territory placed under its authority, she would be among other Liberians to resist it.

In an interview with reporters in Monrovia early this week, Mrs. Sirleaf said the plan is more of a financial receivership, as a response to the serious financial mismanagement which continues to characterize the operations of the current national transitional government (NTGL) headed by Gyude Bryant.

The “Iron Lady” in Liberian politics recalled that the NTGL reached an understanding with her international partners and an Action Plan was drawn. However, the presidential hopeful said the Liberian government failed to meet her commitment under the proposed action plan, and allowed corruption and malpractices to reach unprecedented proportions, thus threatening the financial support of our partners and a process which will lead to a relief of an unbearable US$3billion plus debt that Liberia faces.

Mrs. Sirleaf disclosed that because of the government’s inability to exert fiscal discipline in the system, “Our partners concluded that in the absence of a political will by the NTGL they would make a proposal to, in effect, save us from ourselves.” The leading female presidential aspirant noted that much is being said about the Action Plan, “unfortunately, this has taken the course of challenge to our sovereignty which invites a lot of passionate and negative reaction.”

LEGAP was developed jointly between the current transitional government and its international partners, including the United States, IMF and the World Bank to ensure that Liberian revenues will be available for the reconstruction of the country and the improvement of basic services, but Liberians back home and in the diasporas are seriously divided on the issue.

Though the LEGAP indicates it was developed on the basis of full respect for the sovereignty of Liberia and in accordance with the provisions of the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement (ACPA), which are considered to be sacred, some Liberian continued to express fear that it would take away the country’s sovereignty.

Several Liberian groups, including the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) and individuals have been voicing their opinion on the proposed action plan. The ULAA said it endorsed the plan following careful analysis of the document on the economic governance. Other groups including the Movement for Political Reform declared its unflinching supports for the Plans.

The group argued that “if we can allow foreign soldiers to take over our national security without raising issue of sovereignty, then we must also be prepared to accommodate people from the outside in strengthening our judiciary, increasing our ability to generate and to efficiently manage our economy since the "issues of bread and butter" seem to be the main hidden reasons for the continued quest for political power in Liberia either through the ballots or the bullets.” Some Liberians across the United States have been emitting anger at ULAA for endorsing the plan and are calling for the leadership to be removed and impeached.

LEGAP was developed in accordance with the decisions arrived at during the meeting of the international partners in Copenhagen on 11 May and the second meeting of the NTGL-UN-ECOWAS co-ordination mechanism on Liberia held in Abuja on May 26, 2005.