Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf continues her latest visit to the United States. On Sunday, she will speak at the graduation of the prestigious Spellman College, the historically black college for women located in the southern U.S. state of Georgia.
Lawrence Bropleh is Liberia’s minister of information. He told VOA President Sirleaf has also been raising money for education in Liberia.
“You know that education is a special part of this president’s agenda, especially Liberian young girls who have been left behind literally. And so part of that was a fundraiser being held in Washington, D.C. and a meeting with Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton,” he said.
It had been reported in some news outlets that President Sirleaf used the fundraiser to endorse Senator Clinton’s candidacy for U.S. president. But Bropleh said the president did not endorse Senator Clinton.
“The president welcomed Senator Clinton at the fundraiser. What the president said, she said, Senator Clinton, women do make good presidents. The president is a woman, and she is an excellent president. And so she was affirming herself as well as encouraging Senator Clinton as she journeys towards becoming president of the United States. It was not a blanket endorsement, and the president does not apologize for affirming a woman who is striving to be president as she is,” Bropleh said.
He said President Sirleaf’s commencement speech to graduates of Spellman College in Georgia would be an inspirational speech.
The president is allowed to be at these universities and colleges where she is able to inspire young people to understand her root. Remember, at 17 years old, the president became a wife and a mother. She had her four children and then she went back to school, including going to Harvard University where she was highly educated, worked through the U.N. system and became president now of Liberia. So she has a story to tell, a story that inspires, a story that allows people to understand that it is possible whatever their circumstances are,” he said.
Bropleh defended President Sirleaf decision to accept a $35,000 honorarium for speaking at the commencement of Langston University in Oklahoma.
“The $35,000 U.S. dollars does not go into the president’s pocket. The $35,000 U.S. is what is being calculated as what is given to someone who speaks. The president comes and she speaks. She does not take money into her pocket. She signs a memorandum of understanding, and what happens is that it is translated through the ministry of education, through the University of Liberia, and young people come to the United States and get educated in order to go back and help the capacity building of the Liberian process,” Bropleh said.
The Liberian minister of information also countered a claim by former Liberian president Moses Blah that the Sirleaf government was delaying his retirement.
“President Blah was president for two months in Liberia between the time that former president Taylor left and interim chairman Bryant came into being. There were many laws that were enacted by the legislature in that period of time. Many of them, if the country were to carried them out, it would go broke. The president appreciates former President Blah. The government is working to find a solution to make sure that he gets what is right and what is fair. But some of these laws need to be revisited. You cannot carry them out as they were enacted in the short period of time that was really transitory moment in the political life of Liberia,” Bropleh said.