Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has called on African leaders holding on to power to make way for young leaders and to practice democracy by example.
She told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview after the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York, that it is time for a generational change and leadership by example.
“I’m sending a strong signal, that not only should we respect the constitution and the law, but it also says that it is time for a generational change … if we are going to practice democracy which we all want to do and we all strive to do, then we have to do it by example,” Sirleaf said.
“We have young people that are vying for leadership, that have the capacity, that have the passion and the capability and it’s time for them to take over, and we have to make way for them,” she added.
I'm sending a strong signal, that not only should we respect the constitution and the law, but it also says that it is time for a generational change ... if we are going to practice democracy which we all want to do and we all strive to do, then we have to do it by example.
Sirleaf said she jokingly tells the leaders to give up power, and the message gets through and things have changed considerably.
78-year-old Sirleaf is stepping down as the President of Liberia at the end of her two-term mandate.
She acknowledged the efforts of Liberian women to bring parity in political participation by their decision to vote for her in 2006 and bring change in the country’s leadership.
“The women decided. Men had ruled this country for all these years and look what it brought us; war, death, destruction. It’s time we try something different. They did everything they could,” she recalled.
“They went from door to door, they mobilized, they signed petitions, they gathered themselves in meeting and more importantly, they voted en mass,” she added.
Liberia goes to the polls on October 10 and only one woman is standing for president among the 20 candidates.