Five former African presidents who are members of the
Africa Forum are expected to begin arriving in Liberia's capital, Monrovia
Thursday. They include Africa Forum chairman and former Mozambican President
Joaquim Chissano, former Benin President Nicephore Soglo, Jerry Rawlings of
Ghana, Quett Masire of Botswana and Sam Nujoma of Namibia.
The core mission of
the Africa Forum is to promote democratic governance as well as peace making
and post-conflict reconstruction and development in Africa. Their visit comes
as Liberia prepares to celebrate its 161st independence anniversary
Cletus Sieh is Liberia's acting minister of information. He
told VOA the five former heads of state
are coming to show their solidarity with Africa's first elected female
president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
this is trying to show is that people can leave office as heads of state and
still be meaningful to Africa in the area of bringing peace and in the area of
bringing about reconciliation. So these former heads of state are coming together,
some of them are very much interested in the health sector, specifically the
area of HIV/AIDS. Also some of them are interested in education and
agriculture. So they are coming to bless this occasion but also to have
discussions with the Liberian government," he said.
said the visit of the five former presidents is a testament to President
Sirleaf's commitment to rebuild Liberia after 14 years of civil war.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has tried very hard to put Liberia back among the comity
of nations and leaders around the world are very much impressed with the kind
of leadership she is providing. She also the first elected female president in
Africa. So these former heads of state are coming to show their solidarity but
also to lend a helping, especially as Liberia has started her poverty reduction
strategy, and these old hands are coming to give their advice to our president
as to the way forward," Sieh said.
visit of the former African presidents comes as preparations for the celebration
of Liberia's161st independence anniversary this Saturday are in full
for many Liberians, this year's celebration comes amid skyracketing food and
fuel prices. But Sieh said despite these problems, Liberians should have reason
to be enthusiastic about this year's 161st Independence Day
the midst of the problems you've just highlighted, it was something to see
today (Wednesday) when the president went to Kakata City to turn on the lights
after so many years of darkness. Also the pipe-borne water was turned, and
people were happy and drinking from these pumps, things that had not happened
for a very, very long time. So this is a way of giving hope to our people. In
the midst of what is going on, the government is trying her best to restore
basic services to our people. So a cause for some celebration," he said.
Sieh said the official festivities of
this year's 161st
Independence Day celebration would take place in
the provincial city of Kakata as part of the government's efforts to
decentralize the annual Independence Day celebrations.