A head of the of the upcoming 51st Ordinary Summit of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government scheduled for June 4 in Monrovia, Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has paid a two-day state visit to Liberia. This is his first visit to Liberia and will later this week be his first ECOWAS Summit as President of Ghana.
The bilateral ties between Liberia and Ghana dates as far back as time immemorial, evident by the fact that both countries were founding members of the Organization of African Unity (now African Union). Ghana was also a haven of refuge for many Liberians during the over 14 years of turbulent civil crises, a release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.
This was probably based on its proximity as the closest English speaking country to Liberia, as Sierra Leone was also going through similar tribulation.
As a result, thousands of Liberians sought refuge in Ghana and it was also there that Liberia’s national football team, The Lone Star, played its home matches because of the unrest in the country. Since then, the solidarity between the countries continues to grow.
And it was in furtherance of this ever-growing relationship that Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo, at a ‘press stakeout’ with his Liberian counterpart, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, upon his arrival in Monrovia on Friday, reaffirmed his country’s solidarity and commitment to the government and people of Liberia. The ‘stakeout’ was held at the Foreign Ministry, where President Sirleaf has her offices.
“I remain proud of the relationship that my country has built with Liberia over the years and the spirit of improving this relationship from strength to strength has always been there,” President Akufo-Addo said at the press stakeout.
He expressed support for President Sirleaf’s leadership quality, and said she is doing a tremendous job in a country that has been through a lot. He also praised the manner in which his Liberian counterpart has handled the affairs of ECOWAS since taking over the mantle of leadership.
President Akufo-Addo’s two-day official visit is part of a sub-regional tour since his inauguration as the fifth president of Ghana’s Fourth Republic.
Nana Akufo-Addo was the former foreign minister of the then opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP). He was elected President on his third attempt in the 2016 elections, defeating incumbent President John Mahama of the National Democratic Congress by 53.8 percent.
He, like many other regional and global leaders, acknowledged how crucial the upcoming Liberian presidential election is to the country and its people, as well as the Mano River Union (MRU) and ECOWAS.
The Ghanaian leader expressed the hope that the 2017 elections will be successful based on the democratic consolidation brought to bear by the Liberian government under the leadership of President Sirleaf, and because Liberians are also tired and weary of conflict.
He lauded President Sirleaf and Liberians for the warm reception and hospitality accorded him and his delegation since their arrival in the country.
President Sirleaf, in a brief statement, praised Ghana for helping to stabilize Liberia after over 14 years of carnage.
“Ghana, like many of our neighbors, has always stood by us, especially during our difficult times,” the President said.
She also lauded Ghana and its citizenry for providing refuge to thousands of Liberians who sought protection in Ghana during the civil war.
President Sirleaf assured her Ghanaian counterpart that her administration and the people of Liberia will continue to build on the already strong diplomatic relations with Ghana and explore new opportunities to enhance the partnership and friendship.
President Sirleaf expressed confidence that the 2017 elections will be free, fair, transparent and peaceful. “This will be the first time in over 40 years for a sitting president to democratically transfer power to an elected president. Yes, it will be historical and Liberians will cooperate to make such history possible,” President Sirleaf indicated.
Meanwhile, the Ghanaian leader had earlier held a closed-door meeting with President Sirleaf at the RIA upon his arrival with the aim to further strengthen the ties between both countries.
President Akufo-Addo will join his colleagues from the ECOWAS region and other global leaders for his debut ECOWAS Summit held in Margibi on June 4th, where it is expected that President Sirleaf will be turning over the mantle of authority to another head of state.
On Saturday, President Akufo-Addo held a series of meetings, including one with the African diplomatic corps and with the Ghanaian community in Liberia, before departing the country later in the evening.