President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has received the Letters of Credence of the new Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Republic of the Gambia accredited to Liberia, H.E. Mr. Babatunde Olanrewaju Ajisomo and H.E. Mr. Cherno Barra Touray. The ECOWAS Ambassador is resident in Monrovia while the Gambian Ambassador is resident in Sierra Leone.
According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf, while receiving the ECOWAS Ambassador, expressed appreciation on behalf of the Liberian Government and people for ECOWAS’ involvement in Liberia’s peace initiatives and social economic development during and after the civil conflict.
The President mentioned that Liberia is a founding member of the ECOWAS and has been keen on promoting regional integration both within the sub-region and the Mano River Union Basin. She also reflected on the role played by ECOWAS in the restoration and consolidation of peace in Liberia, adding the Liberia remains grateful to the sub-region. “Troops from ECOWAS countries suffered, fought and died here to safeguard the peace the country currently enjoys, and for this Liberia remains forever grateful,” President Sirleaf told the new ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia.
President Sirleaf went on to say that the foundation for the current peace prevailing in Liberia came from ECOWAS and was later built upon by the rest of the world through the United Nations. For this reason, she said, Liberia will remain a strong member of ECOWAS, and play a strong role in promoting regional integration and African development.
For this to happen, the Liberian leader stressed the need to fast-track connectivity across the sub- region, and announced that the Mano River Union countries will work towards total connectivity in the next three to four years. “The energy sector is also critically important from a regional perspective, and this is why Liberia’s partnership cooperation mechanism that is ongoing requires the consideration of the ECOWAS sub-region”, President Sirleaf concluded.
In presenting his Letters of Credence to President Sirleaf, Ambassador Ajisomo, on behalf of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, conveyed the fraternal greetings and best wishes of the leadership of the Commission to President Sirleaf, the Government and people of Liberia. He expressed his joy at being in a country he called the “Land of Liberty” as Special Representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, following a wise decision to reopen the office of the Special Representative that was closed in 2010.
He said ECOWAS appreciates the commendable role Liberia has played, under President Sirleaf’s leadership, towards achieving the ECOWAS Strategic Vision 2020 of transforming the region from an ECOWAS of States into a Citizen-Centered Community – an ECOWAS of people. He pledged to do his utmost in promoting ECOWAS activities in Liberia, with a view of enhancing regional integration and cooperation.
Ambassador Ajisomo concluded by wishing President Sirleaf good health and all-round sustainable development for Liberia, and he looked forward to a robust and mutually beneficial relationship between ECOWAS and Liberia.
In receiving the Credentials of the new Gambian Ambassador to Liberia, H.E. Mr. Cherno Barra Touray, the Liberian leader welcomed him and acknowledged the excellent relations existing between Liberia and the Gambia. She told Ambassador Touray that collaboration is strong between the two countries at the level of ECOWAS and bilaterally.
President Sirleaf recalled Gambia’s role in restoring and promoting peace in Liberia, and acknowledged President Yahya Jammeh’s personal role as an officer when the first ECOMOG troops landed on Liberian soil to stop the prevailing carnage in 1990. “I am pleased that Gambia joined other West African nations to intervene during the most difficult years of the war, and that the peace conference that gave birth to the Interim Government of National Unity headed by Dr. Amos C. Sawyer was held in Banjul,” President Sirleaf reflected.
She also thanked Gambia for the services of the Gambia Bird airline that flies to Monrovia and other West African countries, as well as the many strong positions usually taken by President Jammeh at ECOWAS and African Union Summits. She recognized the huge transformation through infrastructural and economic development of the Republic of Gambia.
Speaking earlier, Ambassador Touray expressed gratefulness for the kind words and sentiments from President Sirleaf about the Gambian leader. He quoted President Jammeh as referring to the Liberian leader as a woman of substance with a high degree of confidence.
“President Jammeh thinks that you are the female Mandela of Africa, and a very good example of women’s empowerment. He has always told the women of Gambia to imitate you in their quest for empowerment and participation,” Ambassador Touray told the Liberian leader.
He said President Jammeh is impressed about the President’s leadership qualities and how she has transformed Liberia during the past eight years. He finally called for the re-establishment of the Joint Commission of Cooperation between Liberia and the Gambia, to strengthen the existing relationship and ensure the implementation of specific programs of mutual benefit to the two West African nations.