Sirleaf Meets Tony Blair

Wednesday, 30th May 2007
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Photo Credit: James Garresen, II/Executive Mansion
Monrovia, Liberia - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and British Prime Minister, Tony Blair have held talks on the outskirts of the Sierra Leonean capital, Freetown, with an appeal by the Liberian leader, urging Great Britain to continue its support toward the country’s reconstruction efforts.

The President outlined several development initiatives being instituted by government, aimed at enhancing peace and security, infrastructure, good governance and the rule of law.  The President thanked the British government for its support toward government efforts, particularly toward the security and civil service reform sectors.

The Liberian leader said government has made reasonable progress in accelerating its development objectives, but acknowledged more challenges which must be addressed to sustain the peace and enhance growth.  High unemployment in the country and the debt burden, the Liberian leader said, continue to be a major challenge in the government’s efforts to put the country back on track. If the unemployment level could be brought to a minimal level, the President said, government would have made a major breakthrough in addressing one of the major concerns of the people.

On the debt issue, the President thanked the United Kingdom for its recent decision to cancel the bilateral debt Liberia owes Great Britain.  Other friendly countries, including the United States, Germany, the Netherlands, France, among others, have also joined the campaign to waive Liberia’s bilateral debt.  However, the President noted, the country’s multilateral debt continues to prove more challenging. “We want you to bring a strong voice at the G-8 in tackling the issue,” President Johnson Sirleaf urged the British Prime Minister.

Responding, Mr. Blair said he was impressed with the level of progress taking place in Liberia, and assured the President he would do whatever he could to help Liberia move forward. Prime Minister Blair described as ‘absolutely remarkable’ the progress taking place in Liberia. “What you are doing is absolutely fantastic not on the African continent but the world…if there is anyway we can help, we are willing to do it,” the British Prime Minister assured President Johnson Sirleaf.

President Sirleaf and her Sierra Leonean counterpart, President Kabah, also held bilateral discussions, at which time both leaders reviewed progress on recent discussions among Mano River Union leaders. 

The President, accompanied by Central Bank governor, Dr. Mills Jones, left Freetown late Tuesday afternoon, after being treated to a military display by a special Unit of the Sierra Leonean Military and a riot squad of the Sierra Leonean police.