24 December 2009

Liberia: President to Spend Christmas At Belle Yellah, Where Political Prisoners Perished

Monrovia — President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf travels to Gbarpolu County on Thursday, in fulfillment of a promise to spend Christmas in that part of the country - at Belle Yellah.

The President, accompanied by Chief Jallah Lone, the United States and Chinese Ambassadors, as well as other high-ranking officials and staff, will arrive in Belle Yellah on Friday, Christmas Day, where an official program is planned.

For the first time in the nation's history, the town once famous for the political prisons where previous governments locked up dissidents is being linked to the rest of the country by a motor road being constructed by the Government. As part of events commemorating the historic occasion, the President will, among other activities, dedicate a skills school, tour school facilities of the town, and share Christmas gifts with the children.

En route to Belle Yellah, the President and entourage will visit Gola Konneh and Gbarma districts, where programs have been planned to welcome the Liberian leader.

On Wednesday, during a visit to the Monrovia Central Prison, the President pardoned 10 juveniles in a gesture commemorating the Christmas holidays. President Sirleaf admonished those pardoned, who had been detained on minor offenses, to be peaceful and avoid acts that would again land them in prison. The President has instructed the Ministry of Justice to review the cases of other juvenile detainees and inmates being held for minor offenses, and to make recommendations.

The Liberian leader also visited Redemption Hospital, in New Kru Town, where she distributed gifts and food items to patients and the staff.

Also on Wednesday, President Sirleaf paid a visit to ailing Catholic Archbishop Michael Francis at his residence in Sinkor. The President informed the Archbishop of her visit to Belle Yellah for the Christmas holiday, to honor the memory of Liberians who were victims of political persecution in the past. Archbishop Francis, who suffered a stroke several years ago, acknowledged the President's comments with a warm smile.

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