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President of Liberia visits King's

The President of Liberia and Africa’s first elected female Head of State, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, spoke on Sunday 12 June 2011 at King’s College London, where she discussed her government’s achievements over the period of her leadership, since 2005. She highlighted developments in the security apparatus with the establishment and training of 2000-troop strong army preparing to take over security responsibilities from the UN forces. She also addressed the importance of a sub-regional focus for addressing Liberia’s security needs with particular reference to the need for stability in the Mano River area (Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast). The President noted her government’s improved engagement with the real economy through its attempts to reach the private non-enumerated sector by enabling their exposure to markets. She also highlighted improvements in the conditions of staff within the civil service through increased minimum salary levels and the importance of this action to fighting corruption.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was welcomed by the Principal, Professor Sir Rick Trainor, before an audience of the Liberian community in the UK and Europe, King’s senior members of staff including Professor Denise Lievesley, Head of the School of Social Science & Public Policy and Dr ‘Funmi Olonisakin, Director of the African Leadership Centre (ALC) and the Conflict Security and Development Group (CSDG) at King’s as well as ALC/CSDG staff members, Eka Ikpe, Nayanka Perdigao and the ALC Peace, Security and Development Fellows. Professor Trainor spoke warmly of her previous visit in 2006 and highlighted the important work being carried out King’s in Africa on nurturing young talent and leadership through the ALC. Dr ‘Funmi Olonisakin, the Director of the ALC and CSDG, also welcomed the President of Liberia to King’s. She highlighted the ALC’s flagship Fellowship Programmes as a successful instrument for exposing bright young Africans to rigorous training on peace and security issues at King’s for their impactful and transformative leadership on these issues in Africa. She also made the point that at least four Liberians had benefitted from the programme and were now members of its illustrious alumni network. Raymond Da boi, a Liberian on the ALC Peace Security and Development Fellowship Programme, also warmly welcomed President Johnson-Sirleaf and reflected on his rich experience on the programme and with the ALC.

Conflict Security and Development Group (CSDG)

King’s College London has had close links with Liberia since 2003 through the Conflict Security and Development Group (CSDG) within the School of Social Science and Public Policy. CSDG’s Liberia programme supported the governance rebuilding effort in Liberia by injecting critical policy-relevant analysis into Liberia’s transitional process alongside partners including the African Security Sector Network, the Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces and the UK Department for International Development. It assisted Liberians, notably security sector actors such as parliamentarians with security sector oversight responsibilities, members of government security-related departments and agencies and civil society actors, in building the capacity for timely and rigorous analysis of key transitional issues and strengthening local governance and oversight mechanisms through skills transfer. In addition to this, the African Leadership Centre (ALC) has trained at least four Liberians on its Peace and Security Fellowship programmes.

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