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Liberia`s President may run in next election

Last Updated: Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 20:42

Monrovia: Liberia`s President said on Thursday she has not ruled out running for office again in 2011, despite campaign promises to only serve one term.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Harvard-trained economist who turned 71 on Thursday, has been a darling of the international community ever since her election in 2005, when she became Africa`s first democratically-elected female head of state.

"I want to decide what I want to do based upon my continued enthusiasm, based upon my continued good health, and based, more importantly, upon the wishes of the people," Sirleaf said.

Liberia was ravaged by civil wars for years until 2003. The drawn-out conflict that began in 1989 left about 200,000 people dead and displaced half the country`s population of 3 million. The country — created to settle freed American slaves in 1847 — is still struggling to maintain a fragile peace with the help of UN peacekeepers.

In July, a truth and reconciliation commission recommended that Sirleaf and 50 other high-profile figures be banned from public office for three decades for supporting armed groups in the country`s civil wars. If the legislature approves the recommendations and they become law before the 2011 Presidential Elections, it would block a second term for Sirleaf.

Sirleaf acknowledged before the commission in February that she gave up to USD 10,000 to a rebel group headed by Charles Taylor, viewed by many as the chief architect of Liberia`s back-to-back civil wars.

But she said the money she sent while an expatriate was meant for humanitarian services and that she was never a member of his group.

"If there is anything that I need to apologise for to this nation, it is to apologise for being fooled by Mr Taylor in giving any kind of support to him," Sirleaf said in February.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 20:42

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