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Friday, June 14, 2024

STATEMENT BY VP JEREMIAH K. KOUNG AT A SUMMIT FOR DEMOCRACY AND POLITICAL ACCOUNTABILITY ORGANIZED BY NAYMOTE   

Date:

The Executive Director, Naymote Partners for Democratic Development

The Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liberia

Officials of Government

The Charge’ d’Affaires, US Embassy in Liberia

The Ambassador of Sweden to Liberia and Sierra Leone

The Ambassador, European Union in Liberia

Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Civil Society Organizations

Members of the Press

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Today, we gather here in affirmation of our collective belief that democracy is the bedrock for the attainment of sustainable development. Together with political accountability, democracy presents the surest pathway to address a Nation’s socio-economic challenges. For us to maintain a functional democracy, we must as a people, cultivate the mindset that accountability is one of the key tenets of democracy and that the citizens will always demand answers from those of us who are trusted with the torch of leadership.

Any democracy without Accountability of its Leadership is almost certain to fail. The 1986 Liberian Constitution provides that all power is inherent in the People and that the Government is instituted by their authority and for their benefit. Leaders under our form of Government are servants of the People and therefore answerable to the People. It follows that we as Leaders, whether elected or non-elected public officials, have an obligation to explain our decision and actions to the citizen- the People. This obligation of being answerable as Leaders for our decisions, policy formulation, implementation, reform, and service delivery demonstrate accountability in a functional democracy.

As a Nation, our democracy continues to strengthen, evidence by our recent history of two successive democratic transition of power. We have learnt to be tolerant, peaceful, and embrace dialogue as major doctrines of a mature democracy. I do believe that even with our recent success as an emerging democracy, we still have not elevated our discourse to reflect issues above individuals. The political landscape is still bankrupt of policy debates; it is therefore my desire that we will rise above discussions of individuals and proffer ideas.

While our democracy is steadily improving, there must be an emergence of a new generation, with an approach of building strong democratic institutions. We can never achieve accountability and democracy unless institutions are placed above individuals; This is the challenge which confronts our democracy, and we must change the narrative without any form of doubts!

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it is at forums like these that some of our young people have an opportunity to interact with their Leaders and share their perspectives on enhancing our democracy and achieving sustainable development. These young people represent the energy, lifeblood and future of our nation and we must rise to the occasion to preserve it.

We, as Leaders, have the rare privilege to make decisions with consequences for the common good of our people; however, we still struggle to demonstrate a sense of accountability to the people we lead. Let it be known that the burdens, dreams, and aspirations of the people we carry on our shoulders demand the ultimate sacrifice of accountability for our stewardship.

Our democracy must not only be celebrated because of peaceful elections and transition of power, but must also based on our collective ability to be accountable to our people and improve their livelihood. This is the essence of true leadership in a modern democracy, and we must embrace this new mindset.

For me, accountability is a central piece of good governance, necessary for checks and balances over the management of public resources. It is accountability which strengthens democracy and fights against the abuse of political power, corruption, and upholding the rule of law. There can be no public trust without accountability; our citizens must have the right to access information, get explanations and pass judgement on those of us entrusted with public responsibilities.

I believe that many of us, politicians have not formed the reputation which makes our political landscape attractive. As a result of disappointing performances of us politicians for many years, the public perception concludes that “Politics is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get rich”. Our people are tired with Business as Usual; we must restore confidence, ignite hope, and change this perception.

It is now a matter of urgency that we sanitize our politics, so that we the leaders understand that public service is not for the accumulation of illegal wealth but a call to serve our People. Our democracy will be stronger when we, as leaders, engender the mindset that Governments are formed for the benefit of the People and this must remain our singular driving force behind our public service.

As we deliberate on issues of democracy and accountability in the different sessions of this summit, I encourage the frank exchange of ideas and recommendations to develop a strong resolution that can improve our governance framework. On behalf of His Excellency President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, I want to use this forum to reaffirm our Government’s commitment to remain accountable to the People of Liberia, as we strive to strengthen our fledgling democracy.

We wish you all a successful Summit, as we await the resolution and its attending proposals for our consideration and implementation. God Bless our People and the Republic of Liberia.

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