Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai speaking in Brooklyn Park, MN
Liberia’s Vice President, Joseph Nyumah Boakai has praised Liberians in the United States for their good behavior and respect for the rule of law. The Liberian Vice President said he was impressed by reports he received from local authorities in the state of Minnesota about the welfare of Liberians. VP Boakai said if Liberians can exemplify such an outstanding lifestyle in the United States, he is confident that they can do the same in their home country.
Vice President Boakai spoke on Monday at Liberian community town hall meeting in the city of Brooklyn Park (Minnesota). The townhall meeting brought together Liberians of all ages, and from various ethic groups in the state of Minnesota. The townhall meeting give Liberians living in the Minnesota the opportunity to sit and chat with the Vice President about issues affecting Liberians in the US and Liberia.
VP Boakai, and Representative Eugene Fallah Kpaka of Lofa County answered questions on issues ranging from roads, health care, education, dual citizenship, truth and reconciliation, and government’s position on Gay marriage in Liberia.
In his official statement, VP Boakai commended the city of Brooklyn Park for building a sister city relationship with the city of Kakata, in Liberia. He said the Liberian government was moved by the 15member Brooklyn Park city delegation to Kakata City (in Liberia). He said the Liberian government appreciated their humility, and kindness to the sufferings of Liberians in Liberia. The Vice President stated that Liberia was happy to be seen as a friend of the greatest country in the world.
On the issue of post war reconstruction and infrastructure development, VP Boaka said that “may be people do not realize that it is easy to destroy, but it takes much longer time to rebuild” what has been destroy. He said government is making all efforts to rebuild the country. He promised the gathering that Liberia’s electricity will be restored, pipe borne water will reached other parts of the city, and that government and it partners have restored and established community colleges in every county across the country. VP Boakai emphasized that “we need to build the skill of the young people, this is why government is building community colleges”. He noted that this will help reduce the over overpopulation of the University of Liberia, and afford young people the opportunity to live in their counties and earn a college education. On technology, the Vice President said that government is hopeful that between October and November this year, fiber optic cable connections will reach Liberia. He said this technological boost; will enable Liberia to get on pal technologically with other countries.
He also announced that government recently registered three cargo ships to help transport goods and services along the country’s costal lines. He said this will help reduce the burden of travelling by road, especially in bad weather conditions. VP Boakai also announced that government is trying to relocate the redlight market, in order to reduce traffic congestion with in the market district.
With regards to accountability in Liberia, Vice President Boaka said this time around people can not just do things and go with impunity. He said Liberians have vow that they will not go back to war. But when asked about the implementation of the TRC report, he could not provide government position on the issue. He was quick to shift the question to Representative Kpaka, because according to him they make the laws. About implementation of the TRC report, Representative Kpaka said Liberia and Liberians were much more in favor of restorative justice than retributive justice. Rep. Kpaka acknowledge that the TRC did a good work, but said their report was what he termed as “very ambitious”. He said it was more divisive that reconciliatory, and therefore government was open to promoting the palava -hut reconciliation method than other approaches or mechanisms that were recommended by the TRC report.
Responding to a question on oil exploration in the country, and why government signed contracts with oil companies for 50 year exploration periods, Representative Fallah – Kpaka told the gathering that the past contracts were honored during the sitting of the 52nd Legislature, and that the 53 Legislature was prepared to review some of those contracts. On dual citizenship, the Lofa county lawmaker said, the national legislature will do its best to passed laws allowing dual citizenship for Liberians and their children who were born in the United States.
Meanwhile, Liberia Ambassador to the United States, Hon. Jeremiah C. Sulunteh in his introductory statement told Liberians and their US neighbors that “Liberia is well, our peace is sustained, our democracy is mature, and our economy is on the go forward” he said. He maintained that the Liberian delegation visit to the Liberian community was a further manifestation of the UP led government’s plan of taking the government to the people. He said it was a habit of the Liberian government to move to the leeward counties to engage Liberians in positive discussions that result in effective community dialogue between the government and the people. “We believe that Monrovia is not Liberia, our visit here is an extension of what is happening in Liberia” he said.
It may appease you to know that Liberians in the US are concerned about the safety of the commercial motorcyclist, otherwise known as the Pemhn- Pemhn riders. A question was asked about what government is doing to protect these riders, and to minimize motorcycle related accidents. The vice President found this very amusing. He laughed, and laughed and finally chocked on these words “ there is no quick solution to the problem, a lot of the police own the pemhn-pemhns”. This according to the VP, makes it difficult to arrest or get rid of the motorcyclist. He added that it will be difficult to get the commercial motorcyclist off the street.
Vice President Joseph N. Boakai
And finally came this question, what does government stand on gay marriage? And this sounded like a night time joke to the Vice President. He laughed even harder now, and this time he shifted the question to the lonely lawmaker on the trip. Rep. Eugene Fallah – Kpaka said with regards to gay marriage that there is no law on the books in Liberia that gives credence to same sex marriage. But to the contrary, there is a law that promotes matrimony between a man and a woman. “There are no laws for gay marriage, and there are no laws against gay marriage, our culture is very clear” he said. He added that the national legislature can not waist their time to legislate laws on gay marriage. But are there gays in Liberia? According to the Vice President, he haven’t heard complaints, or protest of any kind involving people claiming to be gays in Liberia.
The Vice President is expected to visit other Liberian communities during visit to the state of Minnesota.