There has been a political re-alignment in Liberia with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's ruling Unity Party merging with the Liberian Action Party of former presidential candidate Varney Sherman and the Unification Party. This raises the concern that President Sirleaf, who is 70 years old might not stand for re-election in the 2011 elections. 

In another development, President Sirleaf, who left Liberia Wednesday night for the United States, has decided on her long-awaited cabinet reshuffle. 

Liberia's Information Minister Lawrence Bropleh told VOA the political merger is part of the thriving democracy of Liberia under President Sirleaf.

"As we look toward 2011, many have now begun to say that there is a need for consolidation of the various political parties in order to not have a proliferation so that in 2011 there will be clear choices for the Liberian people. Under that rubric, president Sirleaf's party, the Unity Party has formed a merger, not a coalition with the Liberia Action Party of Counselor Varney Sherman and the Liberia Unification Party," he said.

Varney Sherman was a contender to President Sirleaf during the 2005 election. Bropleh said the new party would sometime in the future elect its leaders. But until that time, he said President Sirleaf remains the party leader.

"President Sirleaf remains the standard bearer of the Unity Party, and with this merger she remains the standard bearer of the Unity Party. Mind you, they are all coming together is not a new name, and the name that is being carried by this party is the Unity Party. Symbol from the Liberian Action Party which is a rooster crowing at the dawn of a new day and hand shake from the Unity Party and the Liberia Unification Party will form part of the new party symbol. There will eventually be a convention held and at that convention leaders of the party will be elected," he said.

Some reports said President Sirleaf, who left Liberia Wednesday night for the United States, had decided on her long-awaited cabinet reshuffle. But Bropleh said such changes have not been officially announced.

"It has not been announced because I will be the one announcing it. But what I can tell you is that President Sirleaf has made some strong considerations and that she has penned already what these changes will look like with it is announced to the public," he said.

One published report said the president has decided to fire Agriculture Minister J.Chris Toe, the Minister of Post and Telecommunications, Public Works Luseni Donzo while swapping Labor Minister Samuel Kofi Woods and Education Minister Joseph Z.D. Korto.

Bropleh said the changes are part of President Sirleaf's attempt to breathe new life into her government.

"President Sirleaf believes that there needs to be some reinvigoration in terms of various sectors in our governing and she is going to move some people around to different areas. This is all to make sure that we have a stronger working government that is more responsive to the Liberian people," Bropleh said.

He said the changes have nothing to do with whether some cabinet ministers have been rumored to be corrupt.

"Let me say that this is all intended to improving efficiency of government rather than because someone has been corrupt. These changes that will be announced in a day or two have to along that line," he said.

President Sirleaf denied Wednesday that her delay to announce the cabinet changes was an attempt to protect certain government ministers.

Meanwhile, President Sirleaf left Liberia Wednesday night for a two-week private and public visit to the United States during which she will launch her new book, "This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President" (ISBN: 978-0061353475, hardcover; Harper).