Sirleaf to be inaugurated in lavish ceremony

2012-01-16 13:02
Monrovia - Liberia's Nobel peace laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will be 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, Africa's first democratically-elected president, managed to appease her opponents on the eve of her inauguration and the opposition Congress for Democratic Change recognised her win on Sunday after a rocky election and weeks of negotiations.

Some 30 heads of state and representatives will attend the ceremony which kicks off at 11:00 and hundreds had already gathered on the grounds of the Capitol Building, an AFP correspondent said.

A military parade followed by regional floats representing the country's fifteen counties will take place later in the afternoon followed by several inaugural balls and receptions in different political districts.

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

Sirleaf's domestic popularity has waned since she first came to power in 2005, with attitudes cooling when a 2009 Truth and Reconciliation Commission report named her on a list of people who should not hold public office for 30 years for backing warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor.

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

Among those attending Monday's ceremony is US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who said Sirleaf "has done a remarkable job of rebuilding her country".

"Liberia has been a close friend of the United States for so many years," said Clinton upon her arrival in Monrovia.

Africa’s "Iron Lady"

"It is important because Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the only female president in Africa," she added.

Africa's "Iron Lady" won a joint Nobel Peace Prize in October, just days before a first round of voting in presidential elections which the opposition said was riddled with fraud.

Congress for Democratic Change candidate Winston Tubman boycotted the run-off and called a protest march on the eve of the November 08 poll which turned violent and saw police open fire on his supporters, leaving up to four dead.

Sirleaf eventually won 90.7% of votes in the run-off, but turnout was low and the opposition refused to accept her victory.

While billed an opportunity to cement a fragile democracy eight years after the end of a 14-year conflict that killed 250 000 people, the elections showed the nation remained deeply divided.

After weeks of negotiations which stalled several times, Tubman called off a protest march planned for the inauguration and announced on Sunday: "We recognise that Madam Sirleaf is the president of Liberia."

"Since the elections, we have been holding negotiations with the government on how to resolve the disagreement... and having had fruitful discussions, we feel confident that the CDC will be incorporated in the government," he added.

Security has been tightened across the capital, with several check points set up along the highway leading to the country's main Roberts International Airport, as UN military helicopters hover overhead.

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

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.