The Liberian president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, paid her first official visit to Libya in mid-May, at the invitation of President Muammar AlGathafi. Johnson-Sirleaf expressed her gratitude to the Libyan leader for supporting her in the elections that brought her to power and during her inauguration as president. But AlGathafi had a thing or two to say about Johnson-Sirleaf's request for the transfer of Charles Taylor, her predecessor, to stand trial at the UN-backed Special Court in Sierra Leone.
Johnson-Sirleaf was the first to speak:
"We came here to salute your accomplishments in the development of Africa," she told AlGathafi. "We followed up, participated and benefited from your vision towards Africa to support development in Africa. This led to the transformation of the OAU to the African Union and your continued support to the African Parliament has made it possible for African leaders to get together to discuss African issues and problems.
"I am pleased to say that the African Parliament has held its first sessions presided over by a woman. Thanks to you, the African Parliament has achieved noticeable progress during its previous meetings ...
"Liberia has witnessed all this: stability, dictatorship, military coups, violence and rebellion. We have seen everything in Liberia. But look at us today, we are a ruined country, 250,000 of our people were killed or died, our children have no future and many of our people became homeless and our country was spoiled, our people have become poor. Therefore, in November 2005, our people chose democracy, and decided to run elections, because we truly believe that this is the path for progress and building our country.
"I come here today with a new Liberia, a Liberia with hope and promise of one united nation. A Liberia that wants to educate its children and provide them with healthcare and job opportunities in addition to providing water and electricity that the people were deprived of for two decades. We want to bring about harmony and reconciliation among our people, for this reason I brought within my delegation three opposition members to say we are together in Liberia.
"We share with you your concern and want to work with all African leaders to find solutions that preserve the entity and dignity of Africa. What concerns us most is the Liberian person, the security of our people to ensure that there is no return to war, violence and plundering.
"For this reason, I was...