Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her Ivorian counterpart Ivoirian President Alassane Ouattara Monday (Apr 26) expressed the desire to organize another meeting of the Joint Council of Chiefs and Elders of border communities of both countries in Guiglo, in July next year.
The meeting is aimed at continuing the dialogue and consultations launched by the two countries in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County two years ago.
In October 2013, several hundred traditional chiefs and elders from bordering communities in Grand Gedeh, Nimba, Maryland and River Gee counties of Liberia, as well as those from Guiglo, Danané, Tabou and Tai of Ivory Coast held a four-day meeting in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County to improve relationships between and amongst inter-regional and trans-border groups, including the chiefs and elders; undertake an inclusive dialogue platform responsive to the peace, security and reconciliation needs of all the citizens, particularly those in the trans-border communities.
Also attending the meeting were authorities from the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), as well as government officials of the two countries.
According to an Executive Mansion release, this was one of the many decisions contained in Communique signed between the two countries following a two-day working visit by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to Ivory Coast at the invitation of her counterpart, President Ouattara from April 26 to 27, 2015.
Justice Minister Cllr. Benedict Sannoh signed for Liberia, while the Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, S.E.M. Charles Koffi Diby signed for Ivory Coast.
Also in the Communique, both countries agreed to strengthen security by ensuring increased cooperation and establishing reliable mechanisms capable of guaranteeing more effective security in the border region.
In this regard, the two Heads of State have expressed their willingness to pursue cooperation and complete various ongoing integration projects especially electrical interconnection and the completion of ongoing road projects from Blolequin to Toulepleu, Logatuo to Danane/Geunta, and the Taboo to Prollo along the two countries’ borders.
The two leaders also spoke on the need to reactivate the mechanisms of cooperation between the two countries by expeditiously holding the 6th session of the Joint Commission of Cooperation between Liberia and Ivory Coast.
Earlier, President Ouattara expressed joy and pride to welcome President Sirleaf to Ivory Coast terming her as “a pillar of democracy in Africa”.
On behalf of the Government and people of Ivory Coast, the Ivorian leader reaffirmed the solidarity to the Government and people of Liberia, deeply scarred by the consequences of the Ebola virus disease and congratulated President Sirleaf and the Government for the remarkable efforts in the fight against the epidemic.
For her part, President Sirleaf expressed the wish that Liberia could benefit from the expertise of Ivory Coast especially in the development of agriculture to ensure food security.
She also wished that Ivory Coast would help Liberia upgrade its infrastructure especially in the sectors of electricity, water and roads.
President Sirleaf thanked President Ouattara for his leadership in the framework of ECOWAS and the Mano River Union which has helped accelerate the process of regional integration and the establishment of a climate of peace and stability in West Africa.
On the international scene, the two leaders discussed various presidential elections, especially in the ECOWAS sub-region and expressed the desire that these elections will be held in a free, fair and peaceful atmosphere. They were particularly pleased with the democratic conduct and the peaceful elections in Nigeria and congratulated the people of that country.
At the end of the two-day working visit, President Sirleaf expressed to her counterpart, President Ouattara, the Government and people of Ivory Coast, profound gratitude and sincere thanks for the authentic African welcome accorded her and her delegation.
She also extended an invitation to President Ouattara to make an official visit to Liberia which he has accepted; but the date and time will be communicated through diplomatic channels.
Meanwhile, while in Ivory Coast, President Sirleaf visited the Liberian Mission near Abidjan to see a newly renovated and refurbished Chancery and Ambassador’s residence.
The Liberian leader expressed satisfaction at the splendid renovation work done at the Mission which has lifted the profile of the country in that neighboring country.
At the onset of this administration, the Liberian Embassy was a run-down building near collapse, but government has resuscitated and renovated the property to a first class Mission.