Liberia's Sirleaf takes presidential oath

2012-01-16 16:38
Monrovia - Liberia's Nobel peace laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was sworn in Monday in a lavish $1.2m ceremony after her disputed re-election in the nation's second post-war polls.

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 in Monrovia.

"I, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, do solemnly swear that I will uphold, protect and defend the constitution and law of the Republic of Liberia," she said.

Sirleaf, Africa's first democratically-elected female president, managed to appease her opponents on the eve of her inauguration.

The opposition Congress for Democratic Change recognised her win Sunday after a rocky election and weeks of negotiations.

While the government said some 30 heads of state would attend the ceremony, few were visible -- among them Guinea's Alpha Conde, Senegal's Abdoulaye Wade and Sierra Leone's Ernest Koroma.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended as part of a whirlwind trip in Africa, and other nations sent representatives.

The ceremony, with singing and traditional dances, was to be followed by a military parade and floats representing Liberia's 15 counties. Several inaugural balls and receptions will take place in different districts.

Foreign Minister Toga McIntosh has said that a budget of $1.2m was approved for the ceremony in what is one of Africa's poorest countries.

Sirleaf remains widely respected abroad for her role in reconstructing the nation shattered by a 14-year conflict.

Read more on:    hillary clinton  |  ellen johnson sirleaf  |  us  |  liberia  |  west africa
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