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Inauguration of Sirleaf as Liberia’s new president

Annan hails inauguration of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as Liberia’s new president

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today hailed the inauguration of Liberia’s new president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman elected to lead an African nation.

“I also congratulate the people of Liberia who, through a peaceful and transparent electoral process, have given Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf an historic mandate to lead the nation towards a future of lasting peace and stability,” Mr. Annan said in a message on the inauguration, which was held in Monrovia with numerous dignitaries in attendance, including the UN Deputy Secretary-General.

The establishment of a democratically elected Government in Liberia culminates the peace process envisaged in the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 18 August 2003. During this period, the UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia (UNMIL) supported national efforts to achieve the transition to democracy by providing a secure environment, disarming more than 100,000 ex-combatants, facilitating the return of tens of thousands of displaced persons and refugees, and helping organize the recent free and fair elections.

The Secretary-General acknowledged that Ms. Johnson Sirleaf's administration faces a number of pressing challenges in a country still reeling from the effects of war, including restructuring the security sector, strengthening economic governance, stimulating economic growth, strengthening the rule of law, protecting human rights, consolidating State authority and reestablishing basic services.

“In the face of these challenges, the people of Liberia are being given a unique opportunity to join together, to build a just and inclusive society, which assures the participation of all people, irrespective of political or ethnic affiliation,” he observed.

Mr. Annan called on the international community to assist the new Government in these endeavours and pledged the UN's continued support “as Liberia lays the foundation for a better future built on peace, stability, democracy and rule of law.”

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