Let's Work Out Timetable For Smooth Repatriation Of Refugees - Kufuor
Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
President John Agyekum Kufuor yesterday affirmed the Government's resolve to ensure that repatriation of Liberian refugees was carried out in a way that would not harm the relations between the two West African nations.
He said they were ready to dialogue and work out a convenient timetable with the United Nations High Commission (UNHCR) and other stakeholders so that the exercise could be carried through without bitterness and embarrassment to either of the two countries.
President Kufuor was receiving a high-powered Liberian delegation led by Foreign Minister, Mrs Olubanke King-Akerele, which included Mr Philip A.Z. Banks, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Ambulai Johnson, Internal Affairs Minister and Mr Gabriel Williams, Deputy Information Minister, at the Castle, Osu in Accra.
They were in the country to convey to President Kufuor the Liberian Government's regret for the recent unruly conduct of some of its nationals in Ghana and to work out a plan on how to get them back home.
President Kufuor said the country within its means has treated the Liberians fairly for better part of 20 years and that their situation was no worse than that of their hosts. He therefore warned that the Government would not allow any miscreants to mar the good relations Ghana and Liberia had shared over the decades.
Additionally, they would not want any bad example to undermine the peace and security of the society. That would be totally unacceptable, he added.
President Kufuor observed that the political situation that caused the refugee camp to be set up for the Liberians no longer existed. The refugee situation was gone and for that matter nobody could now claim to be a refugee, a fact, he said, had been communicated to the UNHCR.
Mrs King-Akerele said her Government regretted all acts by its nationals that breached the country's public order law. 'We do not condone any such acts. We cannot sanction any act that contravenes your public order law.'
She said Liberia did not want to see its relations with Ghana torn apart by the unfortunate situation and gave the assurance that that would not lead to reprisals against Ghanaians in her country.
The Foreign Minister conveyed their appreciation for the comfort Ghana provided to the Liberians at the height of the country's political crisis as well as the critical role played in the peace agreement leading to the conduct of democratic elections.
They were also grateful for the continued support Ghana was providing towards the reconstruction of her country.