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Liberian President Begins Second Term Monday

  • James Butty

Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, during the first session of the 3rd Africa-EU Summit in Tripoli, Libya, November 29, 2010 (file photo)

Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, during the first session of the 3rd Africa-EU Summit in Tripoli, Libya, November 29, 2010 (file photo)

Foreign Minister Toga McIntosh says as many as 30 heads of government are expected to attend Monday’s inauguration

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first democratically-elected woman president, will be inaugurated Monday to begin her second and final six-year-term.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leading the U.S. delegation to the inauguration.

Liberian Foreign Minister Toga McIntosh said the country is excited about the inauguration.

“Eleven O’clock sharp, Liberian time, we will begin to assemble in front of the Capitol. And following the official swearing-in and inaugural speech by the president, there is a luncheon for the guests of the president and those on the grounds of the Capitol. Thereafter, we will have a military parade followed by floats of the various counties in salute to the government and to the president and vice president,” he said.

McIntosh said as many as 30 heads of state are expected to attend Monday’s inauguration.

“First of all, in terms of heads of government, we are expecting about 30. Out of the 30, we will have on hand approximately 7 to 10 heads of state by the time the ceremony starts,” McIntosh said.

He said his government welcomes the presence of Clinton.

“I will be at the airport bright and early morning. We are expecting her to touch down. I will be there to represent Madam [Sirleaf] simply because she will be getting ready to go off to the program. We know that she will fully participate in the general ceremony, but we have a schedule to have a tete-a-tete with Madam President before the ceremony begins,” McIntosh said.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said, while in Liberia, Clinton will preside over the ribbon-cutting of the new U.S. Embassy compound in Monrovia.

The CDC announced it was calling off an anti-inauguration demonstration planned for Monday. The decision followed a weekend meeting Sirleaf, Tubman and Weah.

President Sirleaf with CDC's Tubman and Weah

President Sirleaf with CDC's Tubman and Weah

Sirleaf said afterward that representatives of both the CDC and the ruling Unity Party are holding consultations for a government of inclusion.

CDC spokesman Samuel Tweah said the CDC decision to cancel its planned protest was based on the party’s desire for peace and democracy in Liberia.

“CDC national leadership led by the standard bearer and the vice standard bearer had a meeting with the President and people in the government, and I think, in the interest of the country and in the interest of peace and national security, we decided to call off our demonstration and that we are going to attend the inauguration,” he said.

Tweah said the CDC hopes that canceling the anti-inauguration demonstration would be the beginning of post-election peace consolidation and national development.

The CDC had been having consultations with Sirleaf and her party about including some of its supporters in her government.

Tweah said such consultations were continuing. He said the CDC has a role to play in the governing and development of Liberia.

“The president is the president and she has the ultimate decision to make. We will be willing to work in any capacity we’re offered. We have expertise in a whole range of areas, and we will be willing to supply people to the national process,” Tweah said.

He said whether or not the CDC is part of the next government, it intends to run a very strong opposition during Sirleaf’s second term.

“We in the party intend to run a very strong opposition under the president. We’ll be going for our convention very soon and we intend to run a shadow government. So, while we are in the government, we’re going to be watching closely government policies,” Tweah said.

Tweah rejected any suggestion that the CDC might have gotten money from the government to call off its planned protest.

“We ended the protest in the interest peace at the urging of members of the international community who felt that continued protest would signal to the outside world that Liberia is highly unstable,” Tweah said.