President Sirleaf, Seeking To Strengthen More Bilateral Ties With Equatorial Guinea

Sunday, 17th June 2007
President Mbasogo conferred on President Sirleaf, the Country's highest honor, for her dedication and commitment to freedom and democracy.
President Mbasogo conferred on President Sirleaf, the Country's highest honor, for her dedication and commitment to freedom and democracy.
Photo Credit: Cyrus Badio, Executive Mansion

Monrovia, Liberia - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf set out on Tuesday, June 12th, for a State Visit to Equatorial Guinea, at the invitation of the President of this former Spanish colony, His Excellency, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Aboard a Presidential jet provided by President Mbasogo to transport the President and her entourage, the President arrived in this sprawling coaster city of Bata, amid a euphoric welcome by the government and people of this small but natural endowed African Country, home to a little over 5-hundred thousand people.

It seemed like the whole of Equatorial Guinea had turned out to see and welcome the President; from President Mbasogo and his entire Cabinet and other members of his government, to traditional leaders, students, and women groups, among others.
The two day visit would turn out to be one in which the President’s scheduled events were swarmed with activities throughout her stay.

There was an honoring program at which time President Mbasogo and the government conferred on President Johnson Sirleaf, the country’s highest honor, for her dedication and commitment to freedom and democracy and for serving as an inspiration for women throughout Africa and the world. The occasion was followed by a State Banquet by the President and first Lady, Constancia Mangue De Obiang.

Earlier, both leaders held talks in which the two countries pledged to strengthen bilateral cooperation between their respective countries.
The Liberian President would later address an Extraordinary Session at the People’s Representatives Chamber at the Ngolo’s International Congress Palace, retrospecting the historical ties between Equatorial Guinea and Liberia, dating back to the 19th Century when Liberians were taken to that country to work on plantations. The circumstances the President recalled represent one of the most unfortunate periods in the history between our two countries. Those circumstances, the President noted have changed, and should serve as an impetus to promoting the cultural and historical ties which must be blossomed, cherished and preserved. “Some of you in this parliament may well have roots in Liberia,” the Liberian leader reminded the Lawmakers.

The President visited several sites of interest while in Equatorial Guinea. She, however, seemed more impressed following visits to a modern hospital in Bata, a Turbo gas Plant in the commercial city of Malabo the following day, and the massive infrastructural development taking place in this oil rich African country, which according to recent figures, has a GDP of about 25-billion USD and an average per capita income of 50-thousand dollars. “Our two countries are blessed with natural resources; we can surely share experiences in moving our countries forward for the benefit of our peoples,” the President later told a news conference.

Despite her busy schedule, President Johnson Sirleaf took of time to meet with a representative group of Liberians residing in Equatorial Guinea. She was concerned about their wellbeing and how they were faring in that country. “Mama, we thank God to see you, we are very happy that you could find time to talk to us,” a visibly moved female Liberian remarked.
They recounted the difficulties being experienced to find a job due to the lack of residence permit. “We have no documents, because some of us arrived here on board ships with no papers.” The President promised to discuss the matter with authorities of Equatorial Guinea to ease the plight of the Liberians, who informed the President that they were willing to return home and contribute to national development.

Following the impressive two-day visit, the President and delegation departed Equatorial Guinea for Abuja to participate in the 32nd Ordinary Session of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS. The leaders discussed the political, economic and security situation in the sub-region and noted the progress being made in these areas, making particular reference to the increasing peaceful transfer of power through the democratic process. They lauded the peace initiatives in Guinea and Ivory Coast as well as the progress being made in Liberia and Sierra Leone towards the consolidation of peace. The conference also discussed immigration and border issues in an effort to make easier, travel in the sub-region by citizens.

While in Abuja, a number of personalities paid courtesy calls on the President, including the new Nigerian President, Umaru Yar’Adua, the Outgoing Chief of Staff of the Liberian Armed Forces, General Luka Yusuf, as well as Former ECOMOG Field Commander, Ibrahim Banbanguida, who telephoned the President from his village in Mina.

One of Nigeria’s leading Universities, Jos, also seized the opportunity, using the President’s visit to Abuja, to confer on Her Excellency, an Honorary degree of Doctor of Law ‘Honoris Causa.’ In a citation, Jos described the President has a woman of substance who has brought pride to Africa through her advocacy over the years and her leadership, which has inspired women not only in Liberia but throughout Africa.  Receiving the honor, the President thanked the University, noting that there is no greater honor than when you are honored by your own.  
The honor was announced during the Institute’s commencement Convocation on March 31st this year, but due to the President’s busy schedule, she could not attend.