Liberia`s Sirleaf takes presidential oath in land of hope
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Last Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2012, 10:24
Monrovia: Liberia's Nobel peace laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been sworn in a lavish USD 1.2 million ceremony and called for reconciliation after her reelection in disputed polls divided the nation.

With US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in attendance, the 73-year-old grandmother took the oath administered by the country's Chief Justice Johnnie Lewis as thousands looked on from the grounds of the Capitol building yesterday.

"We have earned our rightful place as a beacon of democracy, a country of hope and of opportunity," Sirleaf said marking her ascent to a second term in office since the end of a brutal 14-year war.

"The cleavages that led to decades of war still run deep but so too does the longing for reconciliation." Sirleaf said the nation needed a process of national

healing not defined "by tribe, region, religions or ethnicity but by equality of opportunity and a better future for every Liberian."

This meant "creating jobs, opportunities and giving our young people the skills they need to prosper and create the life they choose".

But she also added: "Today we can say with conviction that our country has turned the corner.

"Liberia is no longer a place of conflict, war and deprivation. We are no longer the country are citizens want to run away from."

A senior US official also praised Liberia's "very significant history of women's engagement in bringing that conflict to an end".

After a troubled election and riots mostly attended by youths who face high levels of unemployment, Sirleaf said government should offer a worthy education so young people "can get a job and know the dignity of receiving an honest day's wage".

Before the ceremony Sirleaf held private talks with Clinton, who visited the nation on a whirlwind four-country trip of Africa, and discussed the impact of corruption.

"Corruption is one of the roadblocks to greater prosperity here in Liberia," Clinton said after opening the new US embassy in Monrovia following Sirleaf's swearing-in ceremony.

"Of course, it's something we deal with all over the world, so we need good ideas.

"We want Liberia to help lead the way in how you can eliminate the cancer of corruption, which just zaps people's energies and undermines their initiative."

"We're going to do everything we can to make sure they get to the destination of democracy, prosperity, peace and security safely."


First Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2012, 10:24

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