By Alvin Worzi and Hannah N. Geterminah
Jarvis Witherspoon, Chief of Protocol, has confirmed the impending arrival of eight African heads of state, a special delegation of the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA), and special envoys from the U.S., France and the United Nations (UN).
The African heads of state include Jacob Zuma, South Africa; Faure Gnassingbe, Togo; Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria; Alpha Conde, Guinea; Nana Akufo-Addo, Ghana; Ernest Bai Koroma, Sierra Leone; Jose Mario Vaz, Guinea Bissau; and Ali Bongo Ondimba, Gabon.
President-elect and vice President-elect, George Manneh Weah and Jewel Howard-Taylor, will be inaugurated on Monday, January 22, 2018 as the 24th elected president of Liberia.
Witherspoon made the disclosure yesterday at the Information Ministry press briefing in Monrovia where he disclosed that several former African heads of state, members of the diplomatic corps, and members of the 53rd and 54th National Legislature, government officials, soccer players among others will grace the inauguration.
He said more names from across the world are expected to confirm their attendance at the inauguration over the weekend. The inauguration, which will be held at the Samuel K. Doe (SKD) Sport Complex in Monrovia, is the first of its kind in Liberia, according to Witherspoon.
He said as a security control measure, the CDC will distribute about 10 to 15,000 entrance tickets, while there will be about 5,000 tickets distributed among government officials, Civil Society Organizations, diplomatic corps, former government officials and other citizens of Liberia to attend the program.
“No one will be allowed inside the sports complex without a ticket or invitation,” he added.
He said the city will be busy beginning tomorrow January 19, 2018 and called on the citizens to respect the event and obey the security for a peaceful transition, especially considering the number of foreign guests.
Witherspoon said there will be TV screens setup within the various communities across the fifteen sub-divisions of Liberia to enable the public to witness the historical event.
Commenting on the budget, Witherspoon said the transition team, from the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the present government, approved the amount of US$900,000.
According to him, the money is being provided by the government and is currently being used for the hosting of guests and the entire event.
For his part, Abraham Kromah, Deputy Police Inspector General for Operations, said the RIA highway will be closed from 7am to 7pm on Monday, January 22, 2018.
He also indicated that no heavy equipment, including vehicles, will be allowed on the Roberts International Airport (RIA) highway, because of the many important guests that will be using the highway.
Kromah said there will be no loud music allowed at the SKD and its surroundings, due to the presence of foreign presidents, former presidents and other important guests.
According to Kromah, no alcoholic beverage or other goods will be sold at the stadium during the inauguration, warning the public to avoid any situation that will create embarrassment for the state and people of Liberia.
He said taking into consideration the importance of the occasion, those living in the nearby communities are advised to avoid using the major roads leading to the complex.
To avoid long queues, Kromah said entrance to the stadium will be opened by 6 am to the public, with serious security measures.
Immediately following the swearing-in ceremony, an inaugural luncheon will he hosted at the same venue from 1:30pm to 2:30pm. At 7:00pm, the inaugural ball in honor of President George Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor will also take place at the Executive Pavilion on Ashmun Street.
Meanwhile, over 20 international and local media groups are expected to provide coverage for the inauguration.