Source: Analyst Liberia via AllAfrica
It has been some time since elaborate welcome ceremonies were organized in honor of President Sirleaf from a foreign visit. Liberian presidents, including the incumbent, have a tradition of arriving from abroad to lavish welcome back home programs organized by partisans, supporters and even the Government as a show of support or victory over domestic detractors.
Following months of lapse, Wednesday, October 17 brought back the memories as the tradition propped up to the President's arrive from Tokyo, Japan, where she had served a key speaker at seminar hosted by the World Bank and IMF. The Analyst reports.
The grandiose thanksgiving and welcome program last Wednesday was indeed more than about the achievements of the trip—assurances from the Japanese to help construct an 8-lane Somalia Drive amongst other things the President worked out while in Tokyo; it was also or mainly about domestic affairs, principally scathing criticisms some coming from a fellow female and former ally.
The chief organizers, women under the banner "women in Liberia" needed a forum not only to rebuff Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee criticism of President Sirleaf's "lack of reconciliation agenda" and nepotism, but also to demonstrate their support and solidarity to the President, their chief inspirer. The women achieved those objectives, as their statements of welcome connote.
Mrs. Una Kumba Thompson who spoke for the women said: "Madam President, we the women of Liberia gathered here today from all walks of life near and in the capital wish to warmly welcome you back to Liberia. We thank the good Lord for His traveling mercies and for bringing you and your delegation safely back to your home, your people and your country," the first paragraph of the women's statement read, without beating around the bush. "We also want to continue to give thanks to the Almighty for your courage and humility in leadership that you continue to show in the midst of the challenges you face including the most recent and unfortunate statements made by Ms. LeymahGbowee. We say it is unfortunate because our traditional and cultural values require not just respect to you as a person but to the office of the Presidency. We believe in freedom of speech, the tenets of good governance and that collectively, we hold the conscience of society and can speak to issues when need be and at the appropriate forum."