Farewell Message from Ambassador Christine Elder
March 25, 2020, Washington, D.C.
To my many friends in Liberia, I send you greetings from Washington, D.C.
On Monday, the U.S. Embassy shared news with you, the Liberian people, that my tour as U.S. Ambassador to Liberia had concluded.
As the Embassy statement noted, I have been deeply honored to serve in this role for almost 4 years. It was a gift to be asked by my government to extend beyond the traditional 3-year assignment, ultimately having served in Liberia longer than any U.S. ambassador in 35 years. I was touched by your comments about my departure, and I wanted to offer my appreciation and some remarks in return.
Let me begin by saying that I am very moved by your expressions of concern for my health. I am quite well, but over the past 15 years, I have had 3 surgeries on my lungs. With the closure of international air routes, the U.S. government and I decided that this was the right time to transition the leadership of our Embassy, which had been anticipated for this May or June. The Embassy’s very experienced Deputy Chief of Mission, Alyson Grunder, will serve as Chargé d’affaires until there is a new U.S. Ambassador.
Liberia became like a 2nd home to me, and you, the Liberian people, welcomed me as a sister. It has been the highlight of my career, and the honor of a lifetime, to have had a small role in strengthening the unique relationship between the United States and Liberia.
I am deeply appreciative of the warm friendship extended to me by the Liberian people. I was able to express my thanks to President Weah and the Foreign Minister on Saturday, and I hope to return to Liberia on a personal visit in the future so I can express my thanks and say goodbye in person to many more of you.
Until then, I wish to extend my deep appreciation for all of our work together to President Weah, to former President Sirleaf, to the government, members of opposition parties, in particular the young political leaders, to the Members of the Legislature, the Judiciary, the security sector, the business community, the United Nations family, the Dean and colleagues in the diplomatic corps, traditional and faith leaders, and our many, many partners and friends in civil society, most especially the media.
Equally, I am deeply grateful to our U.S. Embassy team for their tireless efforts, alongside Liberians, to protect public health and stability, to promote economic growth, and strengthen civil society.
Let me say a word now about a topic that’s on all of our minds —the novel Coronavirus. Every country in the world is facing the public health and economic disruptions caused by COVID-19. I am confident from our work together, that if urgent containment measures are uniformly observed by all Liberians, Liberia has the ability successfully to manage this virus within its borders. The pandemic’s economic impact will be global, including Liberia. Liberia can emerge stronger from COVID-19, if its people face this challenge united, if political parties and all branches of government work together for the greater good, and if Liberians and visitors follow the advice of the health professionals.
I recognize that Liberia faces many challenges, and the pace of progress can be frustrating for some. However, recalling just a few of Liberia’s successes during my time, I was reminded that as a nation and as a people, Liberia has a lot to be proud of:
- Liberia defeated Ebola.
- We saw the successful conclusion of UNMIL’s mission, including the transfer of security responsibilities to the Liberian government.
- Liberia has conducted multiple free and fair elections, including the historic national elections in 2017 that yielded the first peaceful and democratic transfer of power between parties in Liberia’s history.
- Hundreds of kilometers of roads have been built or resurfaced, and hundreds more kilometers are scheduled to be.
- The Mount Coffee hydroelectric power plant reopened and feeds clean, reliable power to more and more consumers every week.
I admire the Liberian people: their resilience, their determination, and their good will. Although my new position will be in Washington, D.C., I will always carry Liberia in my heart, and be a friend forever of Liberia and of her people.