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Clinton Urges Political Reconciliation in Liberia


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday called for political reconciliation in Liberia, using her political career as an example.

With 13 political parties represented in Liberia's National Assembly, making law in Monrovia often is contentious.

Former rebel leaders sit next to civilian politicians who condemned them during the country's long civil war. Political opponents of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission want her banned from running for future political office because she backed a rebel leader 19 years ago.

In her address to Liberia's legislature, Secretary of State Clinton told lawmakers who are preparing for the 2011 vote that while hard fought elections are part of a democracy, opponents must close ranks when the election is over.

"It is important not to let politics, which is a noble and critically essential profession, overwhelm governing," said Clinton.

Using her own career as an example, Clinton told Liberians that she has been on both sides of politics.

"I have won elections and I have lost elections. In a democracy, there is no guarantee that you are going to win. I spent two years and a lot of money running against President Obama. And he won," she said. "And then, I went to work to elect him. And then, much to my amazement, he asked me to be his Secretary of State. And I must say that one of the most common questions I am asked around the world - from Indonesia to Angola - is, "How could you go to work for someone you were running against?" I said, "Because we both love our country."

Clinton said it is that love that every successful nation needs to inculcate in its people and its leaders so that politics do not break apart the country and create so much ill feelings that people will not accept the outcome of an election.

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