After seven years of a devastating civil war, Liberia is beginning to pick up the pieces. The new government of President Charles Taylor has set the tone with a national reconciliation policy that sees former enemies now working side by side.
The time, was 9.15 pm and Liberia s finance minister Mr Elie S. Saleeby was still at his desk, working. He had two more hours to work before going home. His suffering aides say he stays at his desk till 11 pm every working night. Being an old World Bank hand, Mr Saleeby knows his way about in the corridors of economic power abroad and sounds like the fight man to haul Liberia's economy, devastated by seven years of war, from the brink. He was plucked from his last World Bank posting in Ghana by President Charles Taylor to return home and help.
Mr Saleeby is "cautiously optimistic" of the future. "I think we can do it," he told African Business. "But I had no illusions when I was coming here that it was going to be an easy task. But we must be persistent, we must make sacrifices, we have to make some tough choices - and we have to do them up front, and make sure the discipline is here."
Optimism is a word currently in vogue in Liberia. In less than 100 days since voting President Charles Taylor into office with a thumping 75.3% of the vote, the mood and confidence of the country have changed for the better. There is a new-found self-belief sweeping the country.
The optimism is based on a belief that the government's national reconciliation policy will stick long after the euphoria has evaporated. President Taylor himself has set out to build bridges with his former opponents. He has succeeded in bringing many of the leaders of the former seven warring factions into the fold and appointed them into ministerial and other high-ranking positions.
The most recent public demonstration of this 'bridge-building' exercise involved President Taylor travelling in the same car with his former arch enemy Dr Amos Sawyerr as they drove to a public meeting. Dr Sawyerr was President of Monrovia's interim government from 1991 to 1995.
Dr Sawyerr told the meeting "I stand with him (President Taylor) in national reconciliation and reconstruction, and I call on all Liberians from all political parties to close ranks...