The Liberian Leader Meets With Liberians in New York

By Bodio Siapoe

NEW YORK, NY - Africa's first female interim head of state arrived in New York City, NY with a 27-man entourage on Saturday, October 5, 1996 to attend a meeting at the United Nations.

In the evening of October 5, Mrs. Ruth Perry, chairlady of Liberia's National Transitional Government, was honored at a social function sponsored by Cape Mountainians in the tri-state area of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. Her exclusive meeting with members of her county irked many Liberians from different political subdivisions in Liberia.

"It was a bad precedent for a national leader to have met with her people (Cape Mountainians) first instead of meeting with all Liberians generally," said Elizabeth Johnson of New Rochelle, NY. "Many people see this as an indicator of potential danger in her political choices in the future."

On Sunday, October 6, Mrs. Perry attended a town-hall meeting with Liberians and their friends in the tri-state area. Scheduled to have begun at 3 p.m., the meeting started two hours later, with nearly 500 people attending.

By 3 p.m., members of a gadfly-type group, known as the Coalition of Progressive Liberians in the Americas (COPLA) circulated hundreds of leaflets about its displeasure with Ambassador Paul Mulbah, who was said to have attempted to stop a public presentation of a positive Open Letter to the Liberian leader at the meeting.

In her opening remarks, Mrs. Perry appealed to Liberians abroad to help her administration effect peace and security to their country. She said one of her reasons at the meeting was to solicit suggestions from participants.

In contrast, however, those who were given the opportunity to speak at the event, expressed concern over their own safety should they return home.

Though Perry deliberately evaded certain top-heavy political questions, her plea remained the same: "Come home and help us stop the war. Give us suggestions in our weak way to stop the war. Pray for us. We will not tolerate further recalcitrance from any warlord."

The Liberian leader received much applause and standing ovation during the town- hall meeting. The women in the crowd were jubilant that one of their kind had ascended to the chief magistracy of the nation. Some political analysts saw that as a "showcase of emotional outburst."

Two women groups also presented statements and notably, The Mother of Liberia, Inc. a New York City-based group, awarded Mrs. Perry a plaque.

The Liberian delegation will also meet with other Liberian communities in Washington, DC and Columbus, OH, before returning to Liberia during the week of October 20, 1996.

Whether the Perry-led National Transitional Government will deliver its mandate depends on what Liberians can contribute in the process of stopping the bloodbath of innocent citizens and strangers, the looting of our natural resources by armed bandits and the reintroduction of civility to Liberia. Hopefully, Liberians will be patriotic enough to second-rate personal aggrandizement and put their country and her people first. Anything short of God-fearing patriotism will incessantly nurture the social ills that disconcert the so-called "Land of Liberty."

Bodioh Wisseh Siapoe is Editor of the PALAVA HUT

Copyright © 1996 The Perspective

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