President Mbeki Congratulates President Designate of Liberia, Ms Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Tshwane - South African President Thabo Mbeki has personally telephoned Ms. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to extend warmest congratulations on her election as President-designate of Liberia.

In a statement released today (Thursday 24 Nov), President Mbeki said that the election process in Liberia, in spite of a hard-fought and even bitter contest, had shown the world that democracy and free elections were becoming the norm on the continent.

He made an appeal to all concerned to accept the confirmed outcome of the election, to concentrate on national unity and development, and to pursue any remaining disputes through the available machinery set up for the purpose.

President Mbeki expressed the hope that Liberia will achieve stability after a bitter and debilitating civil war.

"The Government and people of South Africa join Liberians and the international community in celebrating your election as the first democratically-elected woman Head of State in Africa," he told Ms Johnson Sirleaf in his telephone call.

"Your election is indeed a victory not only for Liberian women in particular but also represents a beacon of hope for women in Africa and the world in general. It most eloquently makes the unequivocal statement that, indeed, a new dawn has arrived for African women.

"Accordingly, as Africans we stand proud to be associated with this historic victory in the struggle for gender parity, women's emancipation and empowerment."

The President noted that women leaders were increasingly coming into their own globally, and that the Liberian outcome confirmed that the time for African women had decidedly arrived.

The President said that Liberia, a country with a unique and compelling history, could be assured of the continued support of the Government and people of South Africa in its government-led efforts to pursue a sustainable reconstruction and development programme and to play a positive role in the New Partnership for Africa's Development, not only in its own region but in Africa generally.

"The South African Government affirms the cordial relations between South Africa and Liberia and looks forward to the consolidation of the bilateral political and economic relations between our two peoples," said President Mbeki.

For the Liberian people as a whole, the President concluded with this message: "As we congratulate and salute you, we express the fervent wish that Liberia will achieve its social and economic potential, thereby contributing to a better Africa in a better world."

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa at 082-990-4853

Department of Foreign Affairs
P/Bag X152
24 November 2005.


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