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2008-07-11: Johannesburg plays host to visiting Liberian president

THE Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will visit a number of key places of interest in Johannesburg later this week prior to delivering the annual Nelson Mandela Memorial Lecture. This is President Johnson Sirleaf's first visit to South Africa since her inauguration as Africa's first elected female head of state in January 2006.

In Johannesburg she will be hosted by the City's Acting Mayor, Councillor Ruby Mathang. The Executive Mayor, Clr Amos Masondo is attending the congress of the United Cities and Local Government in Africa (UCLGA) in Ghana, in his capacity as co-president of the global body, United Cities and Local Government (UCLG).

President Johnson Sirleaf arrived on Thursday morning (10 July) and held a media conference at the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) later in the day. On Saturday morning she will be hosted by Acting Mayor Mathang for a tour of the Hector Pietersen Memorial where she will meet some of the student leaders of the 1976 Soweto uprising. This will be followed by a visit to the Kliptown Open Air Museum and the exhibition of the works of the well-known photographer, Peter Magubane at the Walter Sisulu Square.

In the afternoon she will deliver the Sixth Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture to invited guests. President Mandela, Mrs. Machel and the Chairman of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Prof Jakes Gerwel will also attend while the well-known South African singer, Miriam Makeba will deliver a performance. The annual lecture takes place on the eve of the President Mandela's 90th birthday on 18 July.

Pres Johnson Sirleaf, 69, was elected as President of Liberia in November 2005 following a run-off presidential election. A former World Bank economist African director of the United Nations she has made the social and the economic reconstruction of her country a priority following 25 years of military rule and more than a decade of bloody civil war.

Under her leadership the new, democratic Liberia celebrated 160 years of independence in June 2007.