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Saturday, October 21, 2006

LIBERIA'S PRESIDENT ELLEN JOHNSON-SIRLEAF BACK IN THE U.S. TO RECEIVE AFRICAN LEADERSHIP AWARD

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf arrived in the United States on Tuesday to continue her drive to kickstart the Liberian economy and to receive her Inernational Leadership Award. Liberia's Ambassador to the U.S. His Excellency, Charles Minor, and high-ranking officials of the embassy and the country's representatives to the UN received President Sirleaf at the airport in Washington DC. The first engagement of the President during this trip was a private Fund Raising Dinner for the Liberia Educational Trust, in Eastover , North Carolina , sponsored by the Wachovia Bank. While in North Carolina, Sirleaf will also deliver a morning address to Thursday's N.C. Women's Conference at the Charlotte Convention Center. Yesterday, she met with over 2,000 Liberians living in the Charlotte area. The fundraiser in Eastover on yesterday night was a huge success as Mrs. Sirleaf succeeded in raising nearly $1 million to bolser a fund that will be used to educate children in Liberia. . Mrs. Sirleaf has also held crucial meetings in Washington with officials of the Treasury Department and International Monetary Fund ( IMF ) to discuss debt relief for Liberia. . On Tuesday, Mrs.Sirleaf addressed the School of Foreign Service at the George Washington University in Washington DC where she confessed that Liberia was not capable of paying her foreign debts running into millions of dollars inherited from successive corrupt governments .She also launched a passionate plea for the $US50M pledge to Liberia by the Unied States. Sirleaf said she has to convince the world that "freedom can deliver prospects and peace. .....Failure to do so would be more disastrous than we could imagine. In Liberia, the results would be catastrophic....Liberia is unique in Africa. The continent's first republic, it was formed in 1847 by liberated American slaves, with a "declaration of independence" and a constitution based largely on the United States' and guaranteeing most of the same freedoms. The two countries are alike in other ways", the President informed the gathering. . "Your settlers fled religious persecution in Europe. Ours fled slavery in America...Like yours, our founders were flawed establishing a state largely for the elite. We seek to preserve the best of their legacies." Mrs .Sirleaf will put the icing to the cake of her present visit on Saturday when she will receive the President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to receive 2006 Africa Prize for Leadership , to be given her by the Hunger Project of New York. COCORIOKO has been officially invited to the program . The Hunger Project release announced : "On October 21, 2006, in New York City , H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia and the first woman elected president of an African nation, will be honored as the 2006 laureate of the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger, which is given by The Hunger Project. The Africa Prize—often referred to as the Nobel Prize for Africa —was first awarded in 1987. It recognizes African leaders—from heads of state to the grassroots—who exhibit remarkable courage, vision and commitment to the well-being of Africa ’s people. Previous laureates include Nelson Mandela, Wangari Maathai, Gra├ža Machel and Joachim Chissano. The Africa Prize will be presented at a gala award ceremony on Saturday, October 21st, 6:30pm at the New York Hilton Hotel, New York. More than 1,200 women and men from 25 countries spanning North America, Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia and Oceania will also be in attendance. Dignitaries scheduled to attend the gala award dinner include Wangari Maathai, laureate of the 1991 Africa Prize and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize; UNIFEM’s founder, Margaret Snyder and current director, Noeleen Heyzer; Grammy-nominated musician Angelique Kidjo; ambassadors and their representatives from the diplomatic corps; and leadership from the United Nations, academia, the international development sector and the international business community"