Monday, January 16, 2012

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf sworn in for a second term .

President Sirleaf and vice President Boakai at the inauguration ceremony.

Liberia’s president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was sworn in Monday for a second term in a ceremony attended by several world leaders, and the U.S secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"We inaugurate a new beginning -- a rebirth of our democracy," Sirleaf told the crowd of thousands, as supporters blew horns. "Today we can say with conviction that our country has turned the corner. Liberia is no longer a place of conflict, war and deprivation. We are no longer the country our citizens want to run away from."

In her inaugural address, Sirleaf directly addressed those who felt she has not done enough to lift them from poverty.

"To all who have yet to feel the hands of progress touch your life, your time has come," she said, as cheers erupted. "We have laid the foundations for peace and prosperity, and must now hasten our true mission: Putting people -- especially young people -- first. And lifting the lives of all Liberians."

And she responded to the opposition's claim that she was not listening to the country's disenfranchised youth: "The youth of Liberia are our future and they have sent us a message," she said. "Let me say to them: We heard that message. It is our solemn obligation to ensure that their hope will not be in vain."

Hillary Clinton (left) meets Liberian Foreign Minister Toga Gayewea McIntosh on arrival in Monrovia.

Thousands of people, many of them dressed in colorful ceremonial gown, gathered hours before the start of the ceremony in the capital Monrovia. The military fired two cannons Monday and hoisted the flag at the presidency.

Liberia is recovering from 14 years of civil war and conflict that ended in 2003. Sirleaf became Africa's first democratically-elected female president in 2005, and last year was one of three women awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The inauguration ceremony closed with a parade by security forces through the streets of Monrovia and floats representing Liberia's 15 counties.