Liberia`s Sirleaf takes presidential oath in land of hope

Liberia`s Nobel peace laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been sworn in a lavish USD 1.2 million ceremony.

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

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."