17 January 2006

Secretary-General Congratulates Liberia's New President on Inauguration, Says Africa's First Woman Head of State Has "Historic Mandate"

NEW YORK, 16 January (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's statement on the inauguration of the President of Liberia, issued 16 January:

I extend my warmest congratulations to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on her inauguration as President of the Republic of Liberia and Africa's first elected woman Head of State. 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.

The establishment of a democratically elected Government in Liberia brings to a close the two year transitional period stipulated in the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 18 August 2003. I commend Charles Gyude Bryant for his leadership of the National Transitional Government of Liberia during the transition period.

The new democratically elected Government faces a number of pressing challenges, including restructuring the security sector, strengthening economic governance, stimulating economic growth, strengthening the rule of law and the protection of human rights, consolidating State authority throughout the country and re-establishing 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.

I call on the international community to assist the new Government to consolidate its authority, build upon the stability established so far and deliver basic services to the people.  Allow me also to assure the new Government of the continued support of the United Nations family, as Liberia lays the foundation for a better future built on peace, stability, democracy and rule of law. Today, I wish all Liberians strength and courage in the work to rebuild a nation of which all its citizens can be proud.

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