Liberia commemorates its 164th independence anniversary Tuesday, July 26.
Meanwhile, Liberians in the United States kicked off the celebrations Saturday with an “All Liberian Day” cultural extravaganza on the grounds of the Liberian Embassy in Washington.
Ambassador William Bull, Liberia’s ambassador to United States, said the Embassy uses the occasion each year to bring Liberians in the United States together.
“As you know, the independence anniversary is an important milestone of any country and Liberia is no exception. In our case, we have selected this event over the last 12 or more years as a way of bringing Liberians together and reaching out to [the] local community to let them know that we are here; we want to work with them; we want to foster good people-to-people relationships in addition to our usual diplomatic functions,” he said.
Liberian ambassador to the United States William Bull speaks to VOA's James Butty during independence day festivities
Bull said the theme of the “All Liberian Day” independence celebration, “Liberia Rising, Do Your Part, Get Involved,” reflects the general view of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s government.
“We believe very strongly that if we continue along the development path that has been set, as President Sirleaf herself has said, within 10 years, we will not require foreign assistance and by 2030 we could become a ‘middle income’ country,” Bull said.
He said the government supports Liberians in the Diaspora to be able to vote in the country’s elections. But, Bull said that would require a constitutional amendment.
“Absolutely, this is a policy of the government. Unfortunately, we have a constitutional amendment that is required to ensure that the current constitution can be amended which states that, if you declare an allegiance to another country, you automatically lose your citizenship. This needs to be repealed,” Bull said.
Vivian Clinton of Jessup, Maryland said Independence Day reminds her that she has a country that she loves dearly.
“We hope that having our 164th independence day, we have more progress, more development being done to our country,” Clinton said.
Patrick Tuon of Germantown, Maryland described the annual Independence Day gathering on the embassy grounds as the only non-controversial event that brings all Liberians together irrespective of their political views
But, as for Liberia’s August 23rd referendum, Tuon said he is one of those who have called for its boycott.
“As one of the opinion leaders here [in the United States], we have been talking about events, especially the referendum. We believe the referendum has no national value. We took a decision for this referendum to be defeated or be boycotted because the processes that were supposed to be followed were never followed,” Tuon said.