The administration of Liberia’s new president is expected to face monumental challenges. They range from providing social services, to reconciliation, security, and the issue of former Liberian president Charles Taylor.
Emira Woods is a Liberian and coordinator of “Foreign Policy in Focus” at the Institute for Policy Studies here in Washington. Ms. Woods tells English to Africa reporter James Butty that it’s historically significant that the inauguration of Africa’s first democratically elected woman president takes place on an America holiday in honor of a leading figure for African-American rights:
“When you think of all that Martin Luther King represented in terms of a path forward for blacks throughout the world and people without a voice, the disenfranchised, it is important that the historic inauguration of Africa’s first democratically elected woman happens also on Martin Luther King Day.”
Ms. Woods say many challenges face the new Liberian president: “There are no functioning school systems, no electricity….there’s a major problem with transportation…the hospital system is dysfunctional. Those challenges will determine how the future of Liberia’s fragile peace will advance.”
She says it’s critical that attention be paid early on to maintaining security and advancing the country’s economic recovery and national reconciliation. Ms. Woods says a key question is how to bring about accountability when there are war crimes and three billion dollars stolen by former president Charles Taylor and his associates: “Those funds that were stolen by this Taylor machinery have to be sought out and returned for the full benefit of the Liberian people.”