Liberian President an inspiration for women, says Mukherjee

LiberiaPresident Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, the recipient of 'Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development' at the award function at Rashtrapati Bhavan. This was Sonia's first public appearance since her return from the US. (PTI photo)

"Women are peacemakers and angels of development," Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said as she was conferred with the Indira Gandhi Peace Prize by President Pranab Mukherjee here Thursday.

Sirleaf, 74, was honoured for serving as an inspiration for ensuring return of peace, democracy, development, security and order in Liberia and for her strong interest in consolidation of ties between both nations.

The awards ceremony for the 2012 prize for Sirleaf was held at Rashtrapati Bhavan and attended among others by Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar. Congress President Sonia Gandhi made her first public appearance after returning from the United States where she had gone for a health check-up.

Sirleaf is the 27th recipient of the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development.

Mukherjee said, "As the first woman elected to lead an African nation, President Sirleaf is an inspiration for women everywhere, indeed to all of us who seek and work for building peaceful and prosperous communities that enable the development of an informed, empowered and productive citizenry."

"Emerging from a dark night that saw so much violence and bloodshed... Liberia is now moving towards its tenth year of sustained peace. India is privileged to have played a key role in peacekeeping efforts in Liberia," he said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appreciated the courage of the Liberian President in overcoming difficulties and winning hearts of people of Liberia.

"It is often easy to end a conflict, but hard to win enduring peace. It is sometimes easier to end violence and injustice, but more difficult to heal and reconcile.

"Getting political freedom does not always lead to sustained democracy. You and your nation have shown great wisdom in addressing these challenges and we wish you continued success on that global path," Singh said.

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