REUTERS – The U.S on Thursday approved a $15 million grant program for Liberia as President Barack Obama met Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and praised her efforts in rebuilding the country from war.
“Liberia is now emerging from a very difficult period in its history,” Obama said at the White House. “Part of the reason that it has been able to emerge is because of the heroism and courage of President Sirleaf.”
The three-year program from the Millennium Challenge Corp (MCC), the U.S. government’s main development fund, will focus on improving land rights, girls’ education and trade policy in the West African country.
“I come today on behalf of the Liberian people to say that we’ve made a lot of progress,” Johnson Sirleaf told Obama.
Johnson Sirleaf is Africa’s first female head of state and said recently she will stand for re-election next year, when Liberians will vote on her record in delivering on promises to rebuild the resource-rich country.
When she took office in January 2006, Johnson Sirleaf vowed to tackle corruption and mend a nation torn apart by years of civil conflict, which left infrastructure in ruin and a generation of child soldiers traumatized.
MCC Chief Executive Daniel Yohannes said in a statement the MCC “threshold” program was aimed at creating conditions for long-term economic growth in Liberia.