1st June Press Briefing

Monday, 1st June 2009
Members of the Press:

Welcome once again to another Executive Mansion press briefing session.

ē    The President wishes to express deepest regrets over news of the shooting to death of a former contender in the 2005 Presidential elections, Dr. Joseph Woatee. Our understanding is that Dr. Woatee was shot by unidentified armed men in the United States of America. The President extends  heartfelt sympathy to the family and relatives of the late Dr. Woatee for their irreparable loss, and prays that God Almighty grants the bereaved family solace under these very difficult circumstances.

ē    As you may have heard, the President returned home May 31 after participating in the 11th Ordinary Session of the Conference of Leaders and Heads of State of Sahel-Saharan States, which convened in the ancient Libyan region of Sabrata from May 28-29, 2009. During the session, the President reaffirmed the Liberian Governmentís support for the principle of African integration to enable the continent to tackle global challenges with one voice.

The President, while in Libya, held talks with the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi, to follow up on the speedy implementation of projects undertaken in Liberia with Libyan support, particularly the renovation of the Ducor Intercontinental Hotel.  The President also discussed with the Libyan leader Liberiaís desire to host in 2011 the Ordinary Session of CENSAD.  The leaders and heads of state have formally acknowledged Liberiaís request to host the event.

The country stands to benefit immensely from the hosting of CENSAD, which provides funding to assist host countries in putting in place the necessary infrastructure to successfully host the Conference. In Benin and Mali, for instance, funding was provided to help in the construction of villas to host the Ordinary Session of CENSAD. More importantly, the presence of several leaders and heads of state at such a high-profile event sends a positive message to the rest of the world that Liberia has reasserted itself among the comity of nations.

ē    While in Libya, the President also met with Dr. Aisha Gaddafi, daughter of the Libyan leader. The meeting between the Libyan leaderís daughter and President Johnson Sirleaf was a follow-up on Col. Gaddafiís promise to build a school in Liberia for the handicapped. Dr. Gaddafi assured the President that the school will be built under the auspices of a foundation which she heads in keeping with her fatherís commitment. The foundation will shortly send a technical team to Liberia to assess the land and design the Government of Liberia, under the auspices of the Group of í77, has provided for the construction of the school.