President Sirleaf's First Day In Oslo, Norway

Monday, 15th October 2007
President Sirleaf and some Liberian residing in Norway.
President Sirleaf and some Liberian residing in Norway.
Photo Credit: Adama B. Thompson/Executive Mansion
Monrovia, Liberia - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, at the start of a two-day visit to Norway, has held an impromptu meeting on Sunday with Liberians residing in Norway.

The Liberians, who converged on hotel grounds with the President Sunday evening, said they were overwhelmed to have their leader visit Norway. The Liberians thanked the President for taking time off her busy schedule to meet with them in the absence of an official appointment.

A spokesman for the group, Linford Gweh, said Liberians living in Norway continue to follow with pride the progress taking place in the country, under the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. They pledged their support for the programs and policies of government and urged the President to continue the march toward national development, reconstruction and reconciliation.

President Johnson Sirleaf, in response, thanked the citizens for traveling the distance to meet with her. An Executive Mansion dispatch from Oslo said the President briefed the citizens on efforts by government to confront the numerous challenges facing the country. The Liberian leader said government was making steady progress in addressing the needs of the people, by embarking on programs that would ensure an irreversible path to national renewal and development.  The President acknowledged that it takes time to get all citizens on the same page, but expressed the belief that most Liberians have seen and embraced her vision.

The President urged Liberians to use their stay in Norway as an opportunity to prepare themselves for nation building. She cautioned Liberians to avoid acts which would undermine the hospitality being accorded them by the government and people of Norway.

The Chief Executive renewed her call on Liberians to begin to put into motion plans for their eventual return home.  The responsibility of building the country, President Johnson Sirleaf reminded her citizens, lies on the shoulders of each Liberian.  “You may not be ready to return today, tomorrow, this year, or next year, but you must begin to prepare for your eventual return, so that we all can join hands and rebuild our country,” the President reiterated.

An unofficial estimate of Liberians living in Norway, according to officials of the Liberian Association here, is put at nearly nine hundred.

President Johnson Sirleaf earlier met with representatives of international non-governmental organizations operating in Liberia, urging the NGOs to continue their operations in the country.  The President said the country still lacks the capacity to absorb the void which could be created by a large scale withdrawal of NGOs. The President said it may take Liberia about three years to be in a position to bounce back from the vacuum created by NGOs, especially in the health sector.