Sierra Leone's New President, Ernest Bai Koroma Ends Visit to Liberia, as Both Countries Pledge to Strengthen Cooperation

Friday, 21st September 2007
Presidents Koroma and Sirleaf, after signing the communique.
Presidents Koroma and Sirleaf, after signing the communique.
Photo Credit: Adama B. Thompson/Executive Mansion
Monrovia, Liberia - The governments of Liberia and Sierra Leone have pledged to further strengthen the cooperation between the two neighboring countries and have agreed to encourage and foster trade and commerce as well as to work cooperatively towards enhancing the peace-building process in their respective countries, through the promotion of good governance and democracy.

An Executive Mansion release, quoting a Joint Communiqué issued at the end of an official working visit to Liberia by the New Sierra Leonean President, Ernest Bai Koroma, said the two Mano River Union countries also pledged to fully support each other on matters concerning their sovereignty, territorial integrity, stability, peace and development.

Regarding the Mano River Union, the two leaders pledged to intensify efforts to consolidate peace and establish security and stability in their respective countries so as to accelerate the reactivation of Union projects and programs, in order to meet the objectives and goals of the Union, which is to constitute a customs and economic union among member states so as to improve the living standards of their peoples.

Accordingly, the two leaders urged member states to respect fully the Non-aggression and Security Cooperation Treaty, signed in Freetown on November 20, 1986 and the Fifteenth Protocol on the Declaration of the Mano River Union on Defense, Security, Internal and Foreign Affairs, signed in May 2000 in Conakry, and related treaties.

The two leaders also urged member states, as a matter of urgency, to contribute financially to the Secretariat of the Union to enable it to play its role in the implementation of the Union’s decisions, as well as the reactivation of Union institutions, projects and programs.

Presidents Johnson Sirleaf and Koroma welcomed recent moves by African leaders to foster greater integration of the continent, but agreed that in order to guarantee success, the ultimate goal of the continental African government will have to be pursued through an incremental process by the rationalization of sub-regional economic groupings.

During the visit, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and President Ernest Bai Koroma, in an atmosphere of friendship, mutual confidence, and understanding, discussed at length bilateral issues of cooperation between their two countries, matters relating to the Mano River Union and ECOWAS, African development and integration and other international issues.

On bilateral matters, President Johnson Sirleaf extended heartfelt congratulations to President Koroma for his recent resounding electoral victory and subsequent swearing-in as Sierra Leone’s President. She highly commended the people of Sierra Leone for the largely peaceful, free and fair manner in which the elections in that country were held.

President Johnson Sirleaf briefed her Sierra Leonean counterpart on the Liberian Government’s peace-building efforts to move the country forward from conditions of war to conditions of peace and socio-economic transformation. In this connection, President Johnson Sirleaf apprised President Koroma of her Government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy anchored on four pillars: security, economic revitalization, and governance reform and infrastructure development.

Friday’s visit is also in line with the existing policy of the Mano River Union by which regular consultations between and among presidents of member states and other high-level officials of the Union have been underscored as important confidence and peace building measures to ensure stability within the Mano River basin.

The two leaders exchanged views on a wide range of international issues and agreed to strengthen cooperation in international affairs and promote the common interests of Liberia and Sierra Leone through North-South dialogue, South-South cooperation, Africa’s development and the need for increased resource flows to the continent to enhance its sustainable development.

The Sierra Leonean President, at the head of a 17-member delegation, arrived in the country on Friday afternoon at the Roberts International Airport.  President Koroma and delegation received warm and an enthusiastic welcome by President Sirleaf, officials of the Liberian Government, traditional leaders as well as members of the Sierra Leone Community residing in Liberia.

Friday’s visit, the first by the new Sierra Leoneon President since his election and subsequent swearing-in on Monday, was in pursuance of the strong cultural ties and bilateral relations that have historically existed between Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as within the framework of the Mano River Union, of which President Johnson Sirleaf is the current Chair.

President Koroma, who departed Liberia Friday afternoon for Burkina Faso, has meanwhile extended an invitation to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to pay an official visit to his country. President Johnson Sirleaf has accepted the invitation.  A date of the visit is to be determined through diplomatic channel.