LIBERIA: VP Boakai Departs for U.S. to Attend U.S/Africa Leaders Summit Hosted by President Obama; President Sirleaf Tackles Ebola at Home

Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, Sr.,  representing Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, departed the country on Friday, August 1, to join African Heads of State and Government at the first ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit hosted by President Barack Obama of the United States of America.

Days before she was to travel to the U.S. capital, Washington D.C. for the Summit, President Sirleaf announced that she would remain at home to oversee efforts to control the deadly Ebola viral disease that is spreading in Liberia and has killed over 100 Liberians. In that connection, the President On Wednesday, July 30, 2014, launched the National Action Plan presented to the National Task Force on Ebola and announced an initial contribution of US$5 million by the government to begin the immediate implementation of the Action Plan.

According to an Executive Mansion release, the historic U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, taking place August 5-6, will bring together U.S. and African leaders and other senior officials to dialogue about investing in Africa’s future, peace and regional security, and governing for the next generation. These discussions, in three sessions, will take place on Wednesday, August 6, at the U.S. Department of State.

On August 5, Vice President Boakai will participate in the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Department of Commerce; and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum. That evening, he will join other African leaders at a White House Dinner hosted by President and Mrs. Obama, on the occasion of the Summit.

Also on the Vice President's agenda will be the following events, taking place on the margins of the Summit: the Millennium Challenge Corporation's Partner Round Table; Africare/ExxonMobil Breakfast; Mercy Corps Event highlighting Liberian Youth; a Panel, at Georgetown University on "the Future of Business and Development in Africa"; a Power Africa Event, on energy; and more. He will also attend a Congressional Reception for Heads of Delegation.

Vice President Boakai will grant interviews to a number of media organizations, all of them keen to pose questions about Liberia’s management of the Ebola viral disease.

While in Washington, the Vice President will also participate in a meeting entitled: “Achieving a Successful Post-2015 Development Agenda”.

At a joint press conference on Tuesday, July 29, President Sirleaf and U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac briefed the media on the upcoming Summit, with the President describing it as an opportunity for Africa to initiate further investment into the continent’s future generation. She suggested that African leaders seize the opportunity to open Africa to the U.S. by explaining its emerging potential in global trade, adding that Africa’s partners would appreciate the continent’s quest to secure a brighter future for their children. The Liberian leader also expressed the hope that the Summit would further enhance trade between Africa and the U.S., and encourage more American investment in Africa, which would lead to job creation for the young population. She also commented on the need for African leaders to explore avenues for an intra-Africa trade mechanism.

Other areas touched upon by the President included Liberia's success story in the areas of peace and security; continued U.S. support to the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL); and for a rapid response peacekeeping force in Africa to promote the fast-growing democracies on the continent.

In her comments, Ambassador Malac said that President Obama sees Africa as a fundamental part of a U.S. interconnected world, and he believed the partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility and respect. She recalled her country's close relationship with Liberia, and the need to build on shared history and common goal for peace and democracy. She recommitted her government’s position to work with Liberia and other countries in the region in making sure that all enjoy a prosperous and healthy future.

Members of Vice President Boakai’s delegation include the following: Foreign Minister, Mr. Augustine Ngufuan; Finance Minister, Mr. Amara Konneh; Agriculture Minister, Dr. Florence Chenoweth; Land, Mines and Energy Minister, Mr. Patrick Sendolo; Commerce and Industry Minister, Mr. Axel Addy; and Information Minister, Mr. Lewis Brown.

Others are the Chairman of the National Investment Commission, Mr. Michael Wotorson; Legal Advisor to the President, Cllr. Seward Cooper; Head of Secretariat of the African Union’s High Level Committee on the Common African Position (CAP), Dr. Abdoulaye Dukulé; and Liberian Ambassadors accredited to the United States and to the United Nations, respectively, H.E. Jeremiah Solonteh, and H.E. Marjon Kamara.

Vice President Boakai is expected back home on Sunday, August 10.

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