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Young People Said to Support Sirleaf Re-election

  • James Butty

Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, during the first session of the 3rd Africa-EU Summit in Tripoli, Libya, November 29, 2010 (file photo)

Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, during the first session of the 3rd Africa-EU Summit in Tripoli, Libya, November 29, 2010 (file photo)

Unity Party Youth Congress chairman Amos Tweh says the government's Poverty Reduction Strategy benefits the youth

The national chairman of the Youth Congress of the ruling Unity Party of Liberia says, despite an alarming youth unemployment rate, young people support the re-election of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in October.

Amos Tweh says, unlike the past, today’s Liberian youth are more active in the governance as some take up key government positions.

He says they are attracted to the Unity Party’s “Poverty Reduction Strategy.”

“If you’re are asking about the popularity of the Unity Party from the youth perspective, young people are, on a daily basis, gathering themselves to declare their support for the candidacy of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf because the four cardinal pillars of the Poverty Reduction Strategy introduced by this government [are] actually in the direction of the young people. And, I can simply say to you it’s on the basis of that that the youth community of Liberia deem it necessary for this president to be retained so that we can continue to participate in the governance of Liberia,” he says.

The Daily Observer, one of the country’s leading newspapers, citing what it calls “conservative estimates,” said last month that over one-half of Liberia’s 3.5 million population, many of them young people, were unemployed.

The paper praised the World Bank for making available $16 million for President Sirleaf’s government to make the youth more productive.

The U.N. Development Program, through its youth employment and empowerment program, is also reportedly providing support to the government.

Tweh says the Sirleaf government remains popular with the young even while agreeing that the country’s high youth unemployment rate remains a concern.

“The government is popular with the young people. Yet, I do not want to deny the fact that the unemployment issue is a major challenge to this government,” Tweh says.

He says projects such as the $16 million World Bank project are helping alleviate the Liberian government’s youth unemployment problem.

“And so, [on] the issue of unemployment, when the president looked at it, she addressed it from a point where our international partners have actually gravitated to the country and that gravitation has led to what we called almost $16 million foreign direct investment. Those $16 million foreign direct investment are meant to alleviate the unemployment constraint on the government of Liberia,” he says.

Tweh, who says he is from Liberia’s southeastern region, says the area is gradually coming into the corner of President Sirleaf, despite reports early in her administration that some counties in the region were not supportive of her government because they felt neglected when it came to awarding development projects.

“Quite recently, the president visited the southeastern region and that visit is very historic. The president received more than a red carpet welcome. As I speak to you, roads are opening from Monrovia to the southeast region. So, the people of the southeastern region, of course, had that perception, or that notion but, when the president was there quite recently, I can say to you that it was totally changed. And, when you look at the radar of individuals or groups that are declaring support, or counties that are declaring support, for the candidacy of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the southeastern region tops the list,” Tweh says.