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November 04, 2012

Liberian president 'aware' of land grabbing complaints

Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is generally treated as democratic hero who has brought a measure of stability and the beginnings of post-war development to her country. In 2011, just before an election that won her a second term, she was the joint recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize.

But her tenure has gradually been dogged by controversy, including charges of nepotism after she appointed three of her sons to senior government positions, and rumours of corruption..  

Also increasingly controversial has been the growing perception that Sirleaf's government doles out agro-forestry concessions to foreign firms too freely, and that the agreed conditions greatly disadvantage local communities.

Touted by the government as an important element of post-war recovery and development, critics fear that the land leases and local disgruntlement could be creating the conditions for future conflict. Some activists say up to a third of the country's land mass has been leased to investors for logging, plantations and mining.  

During an address in London, England in October, Sirleaf said her government was aware of the complainst and would be reviewing the lease agreements.

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