Liberian President Takes Oath For Second Term

Posted January 16th, 2012 at 10:50 am (UTC-5)
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Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has begun her second term with a pledge to maintain peace and create jobs in her formerly war-torn nation.

Mrs. Sirleaf spoke Monday after her inauguration in the capital, Monrovia, attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other high-ranking officials, including the leaders of Guinea, Benin, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.

VOA correspondent Scott Stearns reports that opposition leaders were also present despite earlier accusations that Mrs. Sirleaf won re-election through fraud. He says the opposition initially called for protests Monday but later said it was canceling them in the interest of peace.

President Sirleaf said Liberia is “now a dignified African nation with a simple dream, liberty.” She said divisions still run deep in the country but that reconciliation can be achieved through opportunity and economic justice.

Speaking to reporters, Secretary Clinton praised the advance of democracy in Liberia but said she had urged Mrs. Sirleaf to fight rampant corruption during a private meeting Monday.

Liberia is recovering from 14 years of civil war and conflict that ended in 2003. Mrs. Sirleaf became Africa's first democratically-elected female president in 2005, and last year was one of three women awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Secretary Clinton is on a four-nation tour of Africa that will also include stops in Ivory Coast, Togo and Cape Verde. She is scheduled to meet with leaders in each country.

A senior Obama administration official traveling with Clinton said Monday that her visit to those countries underscores the U.S. commitment to democratic governance.

Mrs. Sirleaf won more than 90 percent of the vote in a runoff in November against rival Winston Tubman, whose party boycotted the poll alleging cases of fraud in the first round of voting. International election observers have said both elections were credible.