President Johnson Sirleaf Receives Beninois Highest Honor

Thursday, 10th September 2009
Beninois President Boni confers the grand cross on President Johnson Sirleaf.
Beninois President Boni confers the grand cross on President Johnson Sirleaf.
Photo Credit: James M. Garresen, II/Executive Mansion
Cotonou, Benin - The Government and people of the Republic of Benin have conferred their highest and most prestigious national honor on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Conferring the Grand Cross of the National Order of Benin on the Liberian leader at a lavish state banquet held in her honor on September 9 in Cotonou, Beninois President Dr. Thomas Yayi Boni said the honor was well-deserved given her long years of dedication to the progress of Liberia and Africa. He was joined at the conferral ceremony by former Beninois President Nicephore Soglo. He recounted President Johnson Sirleafís long years as a strong advocate for positive change in Liberia and her tireless efforts in building peace and development across the African continent during her tenure as Director of the Africa program of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). President Yayi Boni also spoke of her strong support for women's empowerment, noting that she has become a role model worthy of emulation by all African women.

An Executive Mansion dispatch quotes President Johnson Sirleaf as saying she accepted the honor on behalf of the people of Liberia and the women of Africa. She lauded Benin for its peace and stability, noting that its progress is real and sustainable. She also recounted the peaceful manner in which the country ended its political crisis in the 1980ís, saying it served as an inspiration to Liberia during its period of conflict. The President paid special tribute to former President Soglo who was instrumental in ECOWAS' mediation during Liberiaís quest to find lasting peace. She cited the Cotonou Accord which committed the then Liberian warring factions in the early 1990ís to lasting peace as a memorable period of Beninís solidarity with Liberia. She finally spoke of the progress Liberia has made under her leadership, saying Liberia has chosen the path of peace after years of war.

The Liberian leader, who began a two-day official visit on Wednesday to Benin, toured the Dantokpa Market, the countryís largest market. Addressing market leaders who had given her a rousing welcome, she stressed the need for cooperation between the marketing associations of Benin and Liberia. She praised the local marketing association for what she referred to as its organizational skills, saying there is a lot the Liberian Marketing Association can learn from their experiences.

President Johnson Sirleaf is at the head of high-powered delegation which includes Foreign Minister Olubanke King-Akerele, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, Agriculture Minister Dr. Florence Chenoweth and Youth and Sports Minister Etmonia Tarpeh.