Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was conferred the coveted Indira Gandhi peace prize by President Pranab Mukherjee who said India will continue to support the African nation in its pursuit of stability and economic growth.
74-year-old Sirleaf, the first democratically elected women Head of State of any African country, was honoured for serving as an example and an inspiration for ensuring the return of peace, democracy, development, security and order in Liberia and for her strong interest in the consolidation and improvement of ties between both the nations.
The award ceremony for the 2012 prize for President Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, was held at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Thursday and was attended among others by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi also made her first public appearance after returning from the United States where she had gone for health check-up.
Sirleaf is the 27th recipient of the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development which is in recognition of the values she stood and fought for in the service of India and its people. “India and Liberia have a longstanding relationship of friendship and cooperation. We stand with President Sirleaf in her efforts to pursue stability, economic growth and democratic governance for the Liberian people,” Mukherjee said.
“It is, therefore, befitting that the Indira Gandhi peace prize honours those who have made significant contribution to peace, disarmament and development, causes that were so dear to Indiraji. She was truly one of the twentieth century’s most remarkable personalities,” the President said.
“As the first woman elected to lead an African nation, President Sirleaf is an inspiration to 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,” he said.
Mukherjee said peace and development are the two concepts closely intertwined and necessary to break the vicious cycle of poverty, hunger, inequality, violence and war.