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On anniversary of Liberia's independence, UN envoy sees new chapter ahead

On anniversary of Liberia's independence, UN envoy sees new chapter ahead

Jacques Paul Klein
As Liberia marked the 157th anniversary today of its independence, the top United Nations envoy for the West African nation congratulated it on the progress made since the end of a bloody decade-long civil war last year.

Jacques Paul Klein, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), said the occasion could be called "the first anniversary of the new Liberia."

He recalled that a year ago, a concerted international effort "signalled the beginning of the end of a senseless, tragic war that claimed the lives of so many, and traumatized the entire nation."

"Who, a year ago, could have imagined the country-wide celebration now taking place? Who could have imagined that tens of thousands of combatants would be disarmed, tens of thousands of refugees returned, houses rebuilt and hopes for the future restored?" he said in an address marking the occasion.

He noted that Liberians were once again working together, alongside the UN, for the betterment of themselves, their families and their country. "With you we will celebrate more independence days, reflect on the progress the previous year has brought and look forward to the advancement the following year shall bear," he said.

"Liberians are rightfully proud to say that their country is the oldest republic in Africa," he said. "Yet as today's buoyant festivities also showed, this is no ordinary anniversary, for your country is turning a new page in its history."