Liberia’s Sir­leaf to cam­paign for women can­di­dates in poll

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Mon­rovia, Liberia - Liberia’s out­go­ing Pres­i­dent Ellen John­son Sir­leaf says she will ac­tively cam­paign for the hand­ful of women can­di­dates con­test­ing elec­tions in Oc­to­ber, while her male vicepres­i­dent seeks to re­place her.

There is just a sin­gle women can­di­date among 20 con­tenders run­ning for pres­i­dent this year in Liberia, as Sir­leaf steps down as Africa’s first women head of state fol­low­ing more than a decade in power.

“I will not be seek­ing re-elec­tion in the Oc­to­ber 2017 elec­tions, I will be on my feet ev­ery­where in my own lit­tle way to cam­paign for women listed and cer­ti­fied by the Na­tional Elec­tions Com­mis­sion (NEC) as can­di­dates to par­tic­i­pate in the en­su­ing elec­tions,” Sir­leaf said in a press state­ment on Tues­day.

Be­yond MacDella Cooper, the for­mer fash­ion model turned hu­man­i­tar­ian run­ning for the pres­i­dency, just 15.9 per cent of re­main­ing can­di­dates stand­ing for vice-pres­i­dent and seats in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives are women, ac­cord­ing to NEC fig­ures.

Sir­leaf said she owed her own vic­to­ries to women who came out in force to vote for her in 2005 and 2011 as she uni­fied a na­tion emerg­ing from the ashes of a civil war that ended in 2003.

She would be ‘re­cip­ro­cat­ing the Liberian women who stood un­der the sun and the rain - telling the Liberian peo­ple that we, the women of Liberia, this is our time’, the state­ment said.

Liberian women con­tinue to suf­fer ex­tremely high rates of sex­ual vi­o­lence, ac­cord­ing to the UN Women agency, the le­gacy of a war in which rape was used as a weapon by rebel forces and gov­ern­ment sol­diers alike.

Wide­spread il­lit­er­acy and dis­crim­i­na­tion based on sex also limit women’s in­volve­ment in pub­lic life in Liberia, ac­cord­ing to UN Women.

Joseph Boakai, Sir­leaf's vicepres­i­dent, is seek­ing the top job for the rul­ing Unity Party based on the record of peace and rel­a­tive sta­bil­ity Liberia has ex­pe­ri­enced since Sir­leaf was elected, and while he has re­ceived her en­dorse­ment it is not clear if she will ac­tively cam­paign on his be­half.

Liberia’s out­go­ing Pres­i­dent Ellen John­son Sir­leaf

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