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Liberians Told Liberia Is Theirs To Rebuild

'This is your country and yours to rebuild,' Annan tells inauguration in Liberia

The inauguration of the new National Transitional Government of Liberia marked a "turning point" for that country, but it also presented challenges, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today in a message to the handover ceremony in the capital Monrovia.

"Today marks a turning point for Liberia. Following a decade and a half of civil war and failed attempts to make peace, this is a day full of hope, but also fraught with challenges," Mr. Annan said in his message, which was delivered by his Special Representative for Liberia, Jacques Paul Klein.

Mr. Annan took note of the peaceful handover of power to the Transitional Government, led by Chairman Gyude Bryant, and of recent joint efforts by rebels and government towards peace in the capital area, but said, "The challenges ahead are daunting."

He said all sides should honour the recent ceasefire and begin disarmament; the entire nation must work on reconciliation, and the country's natural resources had to be managed properly.

"The onus of making all this happen rests, first and foremost, with the National Transitional Government and the people of Liberia," he said. " This is your country and yours to rebuild. I urge you to seize the opportunity provided by the international attention and resources currently directed towards Liberia."

Mr. Klein, adding his own remarks, said, "Rains this morning are a symbol from heaven. They washed away the past, they cleansed the land and they have blessed this nation and its people."

Also attending the inauguration were Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and John Kufuor of Ghana, in his capacity as chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Foreign Ministers from the West African sub-region and a senior State Department official from the United States were also present, according to a UN spokesman.

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