Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai said Liberia stands by its decision to support the proposed U.S. Africa Military Command (AFRICOM) irrespective of what other African countries may think. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf recently declared her support for AFRICOM and offered her country to serve as AFRICOM headquarters. But some African leaders have not been very enthusiastic about AFRICOM.
Vice President Boakai says Liberia is a sovereign state and has the right to make decisions in its interest. The Liberian Vice President is in Washington where he will address today ? Monday ? a Liberia Private Sector Investment Symposium. Vice President Boakai told VOA that the government wants Liberians abroad to come home and invest.
?The first thing is that our emphasis is on Liberians because normally Liberians have a way when we talk about investment we always talk about foreign investors. But I also want to say that while we appreciate and we do look forward to foreign investors, we are also encouraging our own Liberians that the opportunities are there for them, and that it is about time that they begin to take advantage of these opportunities,? he said.
The Washington symposium is one of several that Liberia plans to hold to talk about investment in the country. The Vice President said Liberia is not looking for just any investor. He said Liberia is being cautious.
?Part of the delay in seeing investment increasing at a level that people think we should expect is that we are doing screening. We are doing a lot in making sure that the people who are coming to invest in the country are the right investors, people with good intent,? Boakai said.
During his address to the 62nd U.N. General Assembly last week where he represented President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Vice President Boakai thanked the U.N. for extending its peacekeeping mission in Liberia.
He said peace in Liberia was still fragile despite some progress. However, Vice President Boakai said fragile peace in Liberia was not an admission that security was still a significant problem for Liberia.
?We believe that we are putting structures in place. We are training our own security forces, the police, the SSS (Special Security Service) and all these people. We?re also talking about the fact that we will need to put into place those conditions that will create security for those people who might be tempted to do otherwise because they don?t have a job. As long as we don?t have them in place, we still think it?s fragile,? Boakai said.
Late September, the Liberian parliament voted to reject the freezing of assets belonging to former officials in the government of former President Charles Taylor.
Vice President Boakai said the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf asked the legislators to consider the matter based on the demands of the international community.
?I think some of the people are not quite aware that Liberia is part of the international community. When we talk about freezing assets, this government is not interested in freezing anybody?s assets. The president, she knows that the reason that this comes to the table is that those are some of the conditionalities that have been set by the international community for Liberia to be able to move forward,? he said.
Vice President Boakai said President Sirleaf has the option to veto the vote or accept it.
?She simply just sent it forth to the legislature because it is their duty to vote for or against whatever we are supposed to do as a country. If they chose to vote against, I?m sure they probably have information as to a way out. The decision of the legislature, it depends on if she is not interested, she might veto it. If she doesn?t veto it then she concurs. That would be her decision, and that would be the decision of the country,? he said.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf recently declared her support for the proposed U.S. Africa Military Command (AFRICOM). She even offered her country to serve as AFRICOM headquarters. But some African leaders have not been very enthusiastic about AFRICOM.
Vice President Boakai said Liberia stands by its decision to support AFRICOM.
?Liberia is a sovereign state, and Liberia has a right to take a decision in the interest of Liberia. There are many decisions that are taken, whether it?s regional or continental that Liberia may not support. So the President believes that this is in the best interest of Liberia and she took that decision. So I think it?s a decision that we can live with,? he said.