The President of Guinea, Ahmed Sekou Toure, and President Felix Houphouet-Boigny of the Ivory Coast have paid simultaneous visits to Liberia.
The President of Guinea, Ahmed Sekou Toure, and President Felix Houphouet-Boigny of the Ivory Coast have paid simultaneous visits to Liberia. Both President said the purpose of their trips was to emphasise their solidarity with Liberia following last month's rioting in the capital, Monrovia. The riots began soon after Liberia's Agricultural Minister announced increases in the price of rice. Thirty people died in the ensuing violence, and neighbouring Guinea sent one hundred troops to quell the demonstrators.
SYNOPSIS: President Toure was the first to arrive at the James Spriggspayne airport outside Monrovia. He was met by Liberian President, William Tolbert, and officials of the government. The warm welcome included a customary bouquet of flowers from the two grand-daughters of President Tolbert. President Tolbert called the April riots in the normally placid capital an unprecedented national tragedy.
President Tolbert blamed the rioting on imperialist agents aiming to 'destabilise' Liberia, and force the cancellation of the summit conference of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) -- due to be held ind the Liberian capital this year. Since 1950 Liberia's open-door policy has shifted trade patterns radically. Thirty years ago, almost ninety per cent of the country's trade was conducted with the United States. Today, Liberia maintains close trade and investment relations with more than fifty countries.
President Houphouet-Boigny of the Ivory Coast arrived an hour later to receive a similar welcome, including a bouquet. President Houphouet-Boigny had also shown his support on hearing of the rioting in Monrovia and he telephoned President Tolbert to ask if he could assist in any possible way. The two visiting President said they offered their solidarity for the government and the people of Liberia.
After the guard of honour the three Presidents, with their government officials, drove in a convoy of cars to the Executive Mansion. Later, at a reception, President Tolbert thanked both visiting Presidents for their support and stressed that as leaders it was their responsibility and obligation to lead their people in unity and peace. Referring to the rioters, he said it was unfortunate that a group of people had attempted to destroy the image of their country.