|New Liberian president addresses U.S. Congress|
March 16, 2006
A UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
Addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress, Liberian President Ellen
Johnson Sirleaf asked for continued support as she vowed to show the world “the
difference which one woman with abiding faith in God can do.”
An active member of First United Methodist Church in Monrovia, Liberia, Sirleaf
referred to her faith several times during her 35-minute speech on March 15.
“I stand before you today as the first woman elected to lead an African nation,
thanks to the grace of Almighty God; thanks to the courage of the Liberian
people, who choose their future over fear,” she said.
Sirleaf’s visit comes amid growing Congressional support for increased emergency
funding for Liberia in this year’s federal budget. On the day she spoke, a House
committee inserted $50 million for Liberia into a supplemental appropriations
bill now under deliberation, but Liberia supporters are aiming to raise the
amount closer to $100 million.
She is scheduled to meet at the White House March 21 with President George W.
Bush and first lady Laura Bush — fellow United Methodists. Mrs. Bush led the
U.S. delegation to the Liberian presidential inauguration Jan. 16, along with
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Sirleaf is the fourth African head of state and the eighth woman to address a
joint meeting of Congress. Invitations to address Congress are extended to
international dignitaries only once or twice during a typical year, according to
a report on AllAfrica.com.
Even as she thanked the United States for its long support, she said, “We ask
that we continue working together, but we do not ask for patronage.”
She asked members of Congress to think about what the returns on their
investment would be when young men could trade their guns for jobs, when people
could feed themselves again and when young women could become scientists and
“With your prayers and with your help, we will demonstrate that democracy can
work, even under the most challenging conditions.”
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville,
Tenn. For a complete text of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s address, visit
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or
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