22.08.2006 Politics

Liberia Government expresses regret for fire incident

Liberia Government expresses regret for fire incident
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Liberian President Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has expressed regret for the fire that engulfed her country's Executive Mansion on Wednesday, July 26 when dignitaries including President John Agyekum Kufuor were about to begin a meeting in the building.

President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d'Ivoire and President Dr Ahmad Tejan Kabbah of Sierra Leone were the two other leaders. They all escaped unhurt.

They had attended Liberia's 159 Independence Anniversary and were being hosted by Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf when part of the building went up in flames.

It was a near anti-climax to the independence celebration that included the restoration of electricity to parts of the Capital City, Monrovia, for the first time in about 15 years following the destruction of that country's electric power installations during the devastating civil war.

A Special Envoy of the Liberian President, Ambulai Johnson, called at the Castle, Osu to convey the sentiments of his country's Leader to President Kufuor.

The Envoy, who is also the Liberian Interior Minister, informed him that they were putting in place the necessary measures to prevent the recurrence of such an embarrassing experience in the future.

He said it was the hope of the Liberian Government and the people that what happened would not deter President Kufuor from visiting Liberia.

Mr Johnson also expressed their appreciation to Ghana for allowing their nationals to seek refuge in the country and said they were doing everything to help those who wanted to return to Liberia to do so.

Responding, President Kufuor said: "We do not hold her responsible or blame the people of Liberia, for an accident.

She should not feel guilty for herself or her nation, he said, adding that what a country ravaged and traumatized by more than a decade of civil war needed was sympathy.

He, therefore, gave the assurance that should there be a cause for him to visit that country he would not hesitate.

President Kufuor called on the Liberians to accept to live in peace and harmony, saying they should develop the spirit of fellow- feeling and work for the common good.

"Without this, you may be sitting on diamond fields; timber and other mineral resources but you would not be able to exploit them."

He noted that Africa was not yet out of the woods and said it was important for the Leaders "to pick our steps and act in so deliberate manner to move our countries onto firm political ground".

On the issue of the return of the Liberian refugees, President Kufuor, said those who wanted to go back were free to do so but asked those who had found comfort and wanted to stay to ensure that they lived within the laws of Ghana.

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