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President Khama returns from West Africa (Wrap-up)

This afternoon (18/08/11) the President of Botswana, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, returned from a productive three day tour of West Africa, which involved working visits to the capitals of Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia. In the spirit of African Union and South-South partnership, the visits served to promote greater cooperation between Botswana and the three sister republics.

At each stopover, President Khama was hosted and held official talks with his fellow Presidents - H.E. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of Nigeria, H.E. Prof. John Atta Mills of Ghana and H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia - during which the leaders affirmed their common commitment to democracy and development through good governance, while sharing perspectives on bilateral and multilateral issues of common concern.


On Tuesday morning Khama departed aboard OK 1 for the first leg of his tour, arriving in Abuja Nigeria at midday. There he held official talks the Nigerian President Jonathan, which focused on ongoing efforts to increase economic cooperation in such areas as energy sector. They also discussed developments in North Africa and elsewhere.


From Abuja, President Khama flew to Accra, where on Wednesday he was hosted by the Ghanaian President Mills. The two leaders agreed that their countries shared common values and challenges as nations committed to development and democracy through good governance. Sectors identified as having potential for greater bilateral cooperation included mining, agriculture, education and environmental issues.


Speaking to the press following the talks, the Ghanaian President urged fellow African leaders to respect their constitutions by not seeking to overstay their terms of office, attributing difficulties on the continent in part to an unhealthy desire by some to perpetuate their stay in power. He further lamented the current situation in which Africans often seem to be more familiar with Europe and America than one another.


For his part, President Khama paid tribute to President Mills for his role in working to restore peace, democracy and the rule of law in Cote d'Ivoire in the context of multilateral efforts to ensure the handover of power to the 2010 Presidential election winner Alassane Ouattarra. Khama also announced that a Permanent Joint Commission for Co-operation would be established between the two countries before the end of the year.


Late on Wednesday, the President departed for Liberia, the final leg of his tour. At Monrovia's Robert's International Airport he was warmly welcomed by his Liberian counterpart, President Johnson Sirleaf, with a colourful ceremony. The two leaders then proceeded to the Liberian Foreign Ministry for one on one talks, after which they were joined by their Ministers and others for expanded official talks.


At the opening of the Monrovia talks, President Khama noted that Botswana was prepared to assist Liberia as a sister republic in "whatever way we can to help you."  He further observed that Botswana had already agreed to provide training for members of the Liberian National Police.


For her part the Liberian President expressing her delight that Liberia was included in Khama's itinery. She further spoke of her desire that her recently war torn country benefit from Botswana's good governance experience.


At the end of the talks it was announced that the two Presidents had discussed broad areas of cooperation including the mining industry, particularly the diamond sector.  As the world's leading diamond producer, Botswana has agreed to assist Liberia in setting up structures to revive the legitimate diamond trade in the country. In this respect the Liberian Minister of Lands, Mines & Energy has been invited to Botswana.


The President was accompanied on the trip by the Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, the Hon. Mokgweetsi Masisi, and senior officials. As the tour coincided with H.H. the Vice President, Lt. Gen. Mompati Merafhe's attendance at the 2011 SADC Heads of State and Government Ordinary Summit in Angola, the Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources, the Hon. Ponatshego Kedikilwe served as Acting President, while the President was away.  

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