Accra, May 17, GNA -- Active players in the new Liberian democratic process have reaffirmed their faith in Ghana as a true neighbour with a high level of commitment to helping rebuild their country after more than a decade of war, a trip by Foreign Minister Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to that country has revealed.
Nana Akufo-Addo returned home from Monrovia on Wednesday where he attended a meeting of ECOWAS Foreign Ministers. He also interacted with the Liberian political leadership, as well as Ghanaians living in that country, including soldiers on peacekeeping mission. At separate meetings with him, the Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, House of Representative Speaker Edwin Snowe, as well as Mr. Isaac Nyanibo, president protempore of the Senate -- all acknowledged Ghana's unwavering and positive role in ensuring that peace and democracy returned to their country.
Others who also met with Nana Akufo-Addo were Mr. Gyude Bryant, head of the interim government, ex-soccer star and major player in last year's post war elections, George Manneh Weah, and Associate Supreme Court Judge, Mr Kabineh Ja'neh, an ex rebel spokesperson.
Participating in the meetings were Major-General Francis Adu-Manfoh, Ghana's Ambassador in Liberia, Mr. Ebenezer Appreko, Acting Head of the Africa-AU Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ms Carolyn Offe and Mr Amanor Mante, both of the Ministry, and Mr Japhet Ofosu-Appiah, Counsellor at the Ghana Mission in Monrovia. President Johnson-Sirleaf expressed gratitude to President John Agyekum Kufuor and entire Ghanaians for sacrificing for the cause of Liberia. "I recall the late night meetings and travels by all of you -- all in support and to bring hope to the Liberian people," She told Nana Akufo-Addo.
She cited Ghana's leading role in the implementation of an emergency power project under which the Volta River Authority will build two thermal plants and a back-up to power some critical facilities, including hospitals and essentials of the economy.
The European Union is financing the project with six million dollars. Each of the two plants will generate 1,250 KVA with the Back-up producing 400 KVA. Ghana has agreed to bear the administrative costs of the contruction while the United States will provide fuel for the first two months of the plants' operation.
The project is expected to be completed within 60 days and will be inaugurated jointly by President Kufuor and President Johnson-Sirleaf on Liberia's Independence anniversary day on July 26, this year.
In his remarks, Speaker Snowe said Liberians owed Ghana "far more" gratitude for her roles in fostering peace in their country. "Throughout our crisis, we've had helped from all around the world but Ghana is one nation among our West African brothers we cannot forget." Mr. Snowe appealed to Ghana to play a "leading role" in working toward the lifting of sanctions against his country. He also suggested the restructuring of the Liberian education sector by Ghanaian experts. Senate President Nyanibo also commended Ghana's continued support in their reconstruction efforts and expressed their resolve to sustain the peace.
The two leaders also briefed Nana Akufo-Addo about some disagreements between the Legislature and the Executive initially but hoped they would rise above those differences and serve in the best interest of the ordinary people.
"It was expected that we will agree to disagree. There may be a dramatization in Parliament, but at the end of the day, it works toward one Liberia," Mr Nyanibo added.
Mr Weah described Ghana's role in the Liberian peace process as "fatherly," saying Ghana has become a second home to Liberians and pledged that the current achievements would be sustained. He however, expressed concern about "negative media reports" about his country.
"Everything is Ok on our side, but sometimes I find it disturbing reports in the media trying to portray our country as dangerous and unsafe. I want to use your good offices to state that these reports are not true," Mr Weah told the Ghanaian Foreign Minister. In their interaction, Nana Akufo-Addo commended Mr Bryant, who headed Liberia's interim government in October 2003 until President Johnson-Sirleaf's inauguration in January 2006, for keeping to the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, paving the way for elections.
Mr Byant, a businessman, told the Ghana News Agency that he was on holiday after which he would resume business.