A Conversation with Ernest Bai Koroma and Alassane Ouattara

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ernest Bai Koroma, president of Sierra Leone, and Alassane Ouattara, president of Côted'Ivoire, discuss the post-conflict growth of their respective countries, as well as their individual involvement in the African Union.

WALTER KANSTEINER: Well, welcome, everybody, and thank you for coming out on this drizzly, rainy day in the middle of UNGA week. And it is my pleasure to introduce our two visiting presidents from West Africa.

I'm Walter Kansteiner, a member of CFR and part of the ExxonMobil team, and it is my pleasure to welcome these two gentlemen. Our topic is really focused on post-conflict societies and how these countries grow out of those conflicts and enable themselves to flourish and prosper.

President Koroma has been the president of the Republic of Sierra Leone since 2007, a businessman, a politician, a statesman. We are anxious to hear your experiences in Sierra Leone.

President Ouattara, as many of you followed the developments in Cote d'Ivoire over the past 12 months, was sworn in on May 6th, 2011. And he is visiting New York and the U.N. General Assembly for the first time as the president of Cote d'Ivoire. So welcome, both of you. We are really, really happy that you all took time out of your very busy schedules.

The way that we thought would best be the use of time today was to really launch into questions and answers. And so if I could take the liberty of asking a couple questions to launch us off, and then -- and then, gentlemen, if we can open it up to the -- to the members here.


KANSTEINER: I know they are anxious to pick your brains about all of the experiences that both of you have been through.

If I could, President Ouattara, let me start with you and ask the question that political theorists, but also political realists and people that actually practice it, are always asking, and that is: In a post-conflict situation, how do you balance between rewarding those that were loyal to you, that supported you and enabled you to be where you are -- how do you balance that support and loyalty to them with the notion of national reconciliation?

If you could just take a few moments and describe -- it's a tightwire, we know, but perhaps you could shed some light on that.

PRESIDENT ALASSANE OUATTARA: Yes. I'm not sure my mic is on. Is it?


OUATTARA: All right. I was told it was not on and that (I should be careful ?). (Laughter.)

Well, thank you very much. I think it's an important question. What the basic element in reconciliation -- is really equity, justice. In the example of Cote d'Ivoire, really what happened, I think, you're thinking especially of the people in the army who fought and were able to get former President Gbagbo to leave office, and how do you treat them compared to others, for example, who had remained loyal to former president Gbagbo?

The main difference is that there were several -- (inaudible) -- who were loyal to me, had been for various reasons -- ethnic, regional and probably a sense of loyalty -- had been kept behind in promotion in the army. So in a way, it was fairly easy to get them to get that readjustment.

Now, once you do that, you have to make sure that the others clearly accept those who you promote as being at level -- at the right level for promotion.

Now, that was difficult for me in the other sense because those who took -- who were able to chase away Laurent Gbagbo were "les sous-officiels" -- I don't know, who can help me in that in -- how do you call "sous-officiels"? They were not really officials of the army. They were not commanders, colonels and generals. They were below -- they were sergeants, adjutants and so forth. And they chased away the generals and the colonels. So I had to negotiate with them to accept to continue to have those high-graded generals to remain in their posts.

That is difficult because if you have a match, you win the match, clearly you should be the person to exercise power, especially in the army. But I think it took a lot of dialogue. I can say for more than a month I used to meet with them, about 200 of them, from 10 p.m. till 1 a.m., to talk to each one of them, to explain to them that (you need to have a country ?) -- the reconstruction of the army are needed, but we'd take into account a balancing of the -- of the forces.

And this is what I did. For example, the general chief of staff is from the northern army, and the deputy is from the regular army. And this I did in the air force, in marines, in the armee de terre, in the paramilitary, in the police, everywhere. What the number one is from one group, the number two is from the other group; if the number three is one group, the number four and so forth, until we reconstituted about the 500 people who are in charge of the army.

It's still not easy, because when they have exercises, when we have -- they're in barracks, they tend to insult each other and to consider that those of the regular army were nobodies and that they ran away when (they came ?), and yet they're (in a border ?).

But with time -- this is what I would add as a second element -- time is a crucial element. One should take time to resolve these issues. I can understand sometime the impatience, because when you do well, people want you to do even better. And they don't put in the -- they don't factor in the time element. It's important to get time.

We restructured the army only about two months ago, and I think as of today, the country's completely in security. The police have redeployed. Ninety-nine percent of the former police is in place; the paramilitary as well. In our military, we're getting them to integrate the two forces. We still have some problem on the border with Liberia, but I think probably (they'll help them to accomplish ?? that.

KANSTEINER: Thank you, Mr. President. It's very helpful.

President Koroma, maybe you could shed some light on how, as a(n) African heads of -- head of state, you see what is known sometimes as outside interference. That is, quite frankly, how much should the French or, in your case, the British Army -- how much is appropriate for them to be involved? And when does it start becoming infringement on sovereign issues? So maybe take a minute and explain how you see the role of outside forces, and to what degree.

PRESIDENT ERNEST BAI KOROMA: Oh, let me thank you and thank the CFR for inviting us to these discussions.

Now, for a country that is emerging from war, you have certain imperatives that you have to adhere to. In the first place, you should be focused on ensuring that at the end of the day you don't revert to the issues that caused the war. And the focus should be national integration and also taking responsibility as a nation to be in charge of your affairs and leading the process forward.

Now, in our case, we had warring factions, a good number of them. But after the war we agreed that we must embark on a security sector review. And that is a review that will focus on looking at our security apparatus and ensuring that we recruit those we believe are eligible, those that have the competencies to continue within the security and then put them through a training process.

Now, for such, you really require support from your bilateral friends and especially donors. In our own case, DFID provided that support. We had IMET. They came in and got involved in the process of identifying those that we believe should come into the army and then putting them through the training.

Now once the training was going on and the process of identification, it was not just a process that was left entirely in the hands of the DFID. We also had our people collaborating with them in the identification process, ensuring that the focus is not limited to just one group, because everybody should be involved, the military that was (then ?), the existing military and those that fought that were qualified to join; we are all integrated into the new military, and the training process has been ongoing.

IMET was very much involved. They are still involved. But as we move along, the role changes. Now it is more of an advisory role on the military, because, of course, we have transformed ourselves from a military that was supported. Now we are out here on the U.N. peacekeeping missions. We are also supporting other nations to have peace. And they chose the transformation process. And as you transform yourself, you build your capabilities, you become more professional. The need for foreign advice or foreign interference is minimized, and at end of it all you take complete responsibility of the training and also the future of your military.

And I'm sure you -- I mean, the line has to be drawn, and it must be accepted both ways. At the end of the day, I have to be in charge.

You know, if I have to be in charge, you must limit your involvement as we move along. As I build my capabilities, you have to really devolve your presence in the activities of the military. And that is where we are.

We have not had difficulties. I think there is understanding on both sides in terms of the roles that should be played. IMET has played a very important role. They are continuing to play an advisory role. We established a training academy and we are not only providing training for -- (inaudible) -- military, we are also training the Liberian military officials, and also the Gambians. So I think as we emerge as a professional army, the roles will be limited.

KANSTEINER: Great. Thank you, Mr. President.

OUATTARA: If I may add a word on this?


OUATTARA: Your question could be also addressed from the end of -- the beginning of the process when, because of a situation, the country, or a group of countries, ask intervention from outside. That was the case of Cote d'Ivoire when the election results came out and I had won. Gbagbo did not want to leave. ECOWAS a month later -- no, a few weeks later -- made the resolution for him to leave, or to use any means to remove him. ECOWAS can have troops, mobilize troops, and could have really moved into the scene to try to get President Gbagbo to leave.

The matter was taken to the African Union. And there, obviously, the African Union does not have the capacity to really build the troops in a situation like this.

So finally the whole thing went to the U.N.

Now, when we came to -- we gave it time from November till about February, March. We had the capacity, with my associates, to really remove Gbagbo by force. And so we have a dilemma: Should we wait for the ECOWAS and the U.N., or should we move on, on our own? So we finally made the decision. After the African Union steps did not come to fruition, we decided to move on. I consulted former President Bedie, my political ally, and Guillaume Soro, the military support. And so in three days, actually, the army took over the whole country except in Abidjan, where Gbagbo had concentrated his force.

So in my personal view, it's clear that domestic problems should be taken care of by domestic forces. But when there is imbalance -- and this was the case in Cote d'Ivoire. At some point Gbagbo was using heavy weapons and killing citizens, of the population -- up to 3,000 people were killed. He had all type of sophisticated weapons imported from countries I would not name, but now we know them. And this was a -- dramatic.

So this brings the issue of the control of arms, which the world has not been able to really master.

I think the Council on Foreign Affairs (sic), with its influence, this is -- the proliferation of arms, especially heavy weapons, is really a problem for us in West Africa in particular.

KANSTEINER: Thank you, Mr. President. We have promised both of our heads of state that they will be able to be out of here exactly at 2:30 today. So we have just under 30 minutes right now to open it up to the members for questions and answers and clarifications. So please, I would welcome any and all questions.

Kofi, could you lead us off, please?

QUESTIONER: I wonder if you could both talk about what are the key economic policies you're pursuing to try to move your economies forward.

KANSTEINER: Kofi, could I interrupt you just one second? And if you could, when you ask a question, state your name and remind us where you're from and then -- and then go to the question. Sorry, Kofi.

QUESTIONER: Kofi Appenteng of the chair of the African-American Institute. And my question remains.

KANSTEINER: Thank you.

KOROMA: Well, a very interesting question. Now from the Sierra Leone experience, when we assumed office in 2007, very clear that the economy was down. The potential of the country is great. There is a lot of work to do to turn around the economy. But then at that point in time, the issue of what is known about Sierra Leone is either limited or is negative out there to the investors community.

So therefore, we were quick to look at two things: One, how do you attract external investment? The second issue is: How do you build up the environment within the country to ensure that external investment will come in and create the impact that is expected? So in the process of doing that, we clearly identified what we call our agenda for change. It was a program of activities that we believe, if we embark on, will lead the basis of a sustainable economic growth.

Now, we have, in the first place, to go out there and tell the picture of the new Sierra Leone: show it out to the international community, to the international investors that Sierra Leone is not what you used to know. Sierra Leone is no longer the country of the blood diamonds. It's not the warring country. Sierra Leone has changed dramatically.

Sierra Leone is now a democratic country. Sierra Leone is safe. We have been through two democratic elections that are considered to be free, fair and acceptable; and that in one of the elections, we have ushered in a change of government from an opposition to a government and from a government to opposition. These are not issues that easily happen in Africa without difficulties, but in Sierra Leone it happened without any bloodshed -- acceptable.

It shows the level of maturity and the democratization that has taken place in the country.

And in addition to that, as a government, we embarked on quick reform programs, changes of our laws, ensuring that we do the things that will create the environment for -- to attract external investors. And we have been credited for what we have been doing by the World Bank. We have made a lot of improvement in -- (inaudible) -- business rankings. And the World Bank has -- was -- (inaudible) -- us as one of the top performers in Africa. We are the easiest place to establish a business. And in terms of protecting the investor, a lot of things have happened. So these are efforts that we have put in place in terms of growing the economy.

Now, in addition to that, we also have comparative advantages, you know, in the mineral resource. We now have about the third- largest deposit of iron ore in the world. You have gold, diamonds. We --


KOROMA: Agriculture. Titanium has always been there, and diamonds. We are now into the oil exploration, and the results are very, very interesting. But in all of these, I think what has been our focus is to ensure that we make the environment open, transparent and attractive.

And with these attractions, I am sure that the investor who was out there knowing nothing about Sierra Leone also needs an opportunity to know. That was why in 2009 we had the investment forum in the U.K., in which we went out and we started telling the people that Sierra Leone is ready for business; Sierra Leone is the place to go for business. We needed to do that because of stories that have been making the rounds about Sierra Leone. We have been out there for the wrong reasons, and now I think it is time for us to go out and tell people that it is -- that we are all ready for business.

So I -- we have made these efforts. It's not a deliberate policy, but we have to rebrand. We have to attract investors. We have to take advantage of our potential. And now we are realizing the gains that we have made. The mining industry is picking up. We have big names coming in. The agricultural sector is growing. The petroleum industry -- we have big players now showing interest. And Sierra Leone is becoming the attraction. So our policy has been that of rebranding and also improving the environment and attracting the external investment, which I believe is paying dividends. And I believe that with what we have done, especially the credence that has been given to us by the World Bank and other institutions, I think we are now ready for business.

KANSTEINER: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Yes, please.

QUESTIONER: Mr. President, I'm Teresa Clarke. I'm the CEO of Africa.com.

My question relates to the Africa Union.

For years and decades, one looks to the Africa Union to play the role that the European Union has played in pulling together smaller countries in order to create one common market. As two of the newer presidents on the continent, can you please comment on your willingness to subordinate some of the independent liberties associated with being an independent state in favor of the benefit for all that would come about as a result of an effective Africa Union?

OUATTARA: Well, let me just say a few words on this as a question of economics, what type of economic policies we are trying to implement in Cote d'Ivoire. In Cote d'Ivoire actually we had had liberal policies since independence. When we were a (parenthesis ?) of socialism by Gbagbo from 2000 to 2010-11, but it did not go very far, because clearly the mentality, the environment and the policies have always been clearly -- have been liberal policies. And I am a vice president of the International Liberal Movement, so I'm very proud to say that, because I think that it's a private sector, really, support which will helps most -- (have -- anchor ?) very fast economic growth.

Now, with the crisis in 2010, estimates were that GDP would drop at about 10 percent earlier this year.

We had just had an IMF mission -- IMF/World Bank/ADB mission in Abidjan, which said that now it will be contained, the drop in GDP will be contained to about 5 percent in 2010, because remember that for about four months the country were in the -- a blockade, and there are sanctions and so forth.

But the interesting thing is that for 2012, the estimate of the IMF is a growth of GDP of 8 (percent) to 9 percent, and over the medium term about 6 (percent) to 7 percent. So these are fairly simple results of the policies we have undertaken in terms of creating the environment: as President Koroma said, really reforming the judicial system, addressing governance issues -- we had a lot of that in the cocoa sector, in energy, in oil and so forth -- and also of looking larger, beyond Cote d'Ivoire, because we believe in economic integration. Cote d'Ivoire has only 22 million people, but if you take our neighbors, we can go up to 70 million people. So we think that this is a big market. We're also reaching out to Nigeria, which has 150 million inhabitants.

So I -- we are -- we're quite comfortable with the way things will develop over the past four, five years -- next four, five years. And our program has an investment requirement of $20 billion over the next five years.

Now, one-fourth should be private-sector financed, and then one-fourth on the debt -- the debt -- the HIPC countries with debt relief, and also, the others in terms of public investment and also trying to reorient some of the current expenditures.

Now, on the issue of the African Union -- well, my brother Koroma I know is a senior in this compared to me -- but I must confess I'm very disappointed with the African Union, at their lack of efficiency; the lag in decisions; I think, in effect, really, the fact that the different subregions are not well connected into a decision-making process. And I don't think the commission really has any power or responsibility. So in a way, maybe it's because it's new, it's young; but we have to go through this. And I've said clearly in -- we were in -- when we were in Malabo, that if you take the case of Libya, the fact that the African (Union ?) up to today has not recognized "la mission -- (inaudible)" -- in English, the T-N -- Transitional National Council, TNC. (Laughs, laughter.)

So this is really -- it's getting as if we don't know what is happening in the world. You just have to watch the television to know that everyone is recognizing Libya. Only Africa and the United States saying, well, we want to wait for (these two ?).

So in a way, getting the African Union to work better should be a priority. And we at ECOWAS certainly have an ambition on that.

I think -- we comprise 15 countries. I think we're better coordinated. We're in touch with each other. We have emergency meeting when it's necessary. We -- Koroma and myself were in Monrovia in the framework (in minor ?) region. I was in Abuja Saturday a week ago, with Johnson Sirleaf, Jonathan and others about the problem of the borders in Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire.

So we want to make at least ECOWAS something which is ready militarily but also diplomatically. I don't think we're going to wait for the African Union. Madam, I'm sorry to say that.

KANSTEINER: President Koroma, do you share those worries about the African Union?

KOROMA: Well, the African Union have come a long way. No doubt -- (laughter) -- no doubt we have had challenges, like we have had in the past. The groupings within the union are visible, and they may be responsible for the sluggishness of the union.

The position of some of us is that we have to transform the whole concept of the Africa Union, make -- (off mic) -- as a -- make it into an institution and that will have a completeness in terms of mandate and decision-making. It's not only the promptness of taking a decision but also having the authority -- (off mic) -- implementing decisions that are taken.

I must say that we still have challenges there, but I think the issues will be resolved very soon.

But we've had difficulties.

OUATTARA: You're more diplomatic than I. (Laughter.)

KANSTEINER: Yes, please.

OUATTARA: But I think we're saying the same thing.

KANSTEINER: Yes, yes, I think -- (laughter) -- you have lived it together.

QUESTIONER: Thank you very much. Mr. Kansteiner, very nice to see you again. My name is Mahesh Kotecha of Structured Credit International, New York.

President Ouattara, you were in Cote d'Ivoire; the seat of the African Development Bank, which you mentioned, has just visited you on a mission to perhaps provide a helping hand. And you mentioned, the both of you, the issue of perception of risk. This would be -- a return to Abidjan of the ADB would be a great boost to the perception of risk in Abidjan. What is the potential for doing that? And is there something parallel that Sierra Leone can do to one-up, as it were, Cote d'Ivoire? (Laughter.)

OUATTARA: No, I think clearly the African Union has set up a number of criteria. Security now of Cote d'Ivoire, Abidjan in particular -- there is no problem. There's (enough ?) security. And I think there were specific issues about schools and so forth. This has been settled. And so we had a mission in August. I think the decision will be -- decision will be proposed to a vote for the African Bank to come back in -- next year instead of waiting for three years.

In fact, my argument was very simple with the president of the African Bank. I said, well, look, we have gone through a process, getting a constitution, making elections. I think that we're post- electoral crisis and having a legitimate president now, so clearly the horizon is clear.

I said Tunisia has to have a constitution, have to have an election, have to have its crisis. (Laughs/laughter.) So I think it's taking a lot of risks. I like Tunisia. I love Tunisia, and they are my brothers and friends, but with would make sense for a manager to go to a place which is already safe rather than staying in a place which may not be. But of course I wish for Tunisia democratic and fair elections, and especially, peaceful elections.

KANSTEINER: Thank you, Mr. President.

KOROMA: Let me say that we look forward to the homecoming ADB, not because of the fact that it will come within the subregion where we belong, but I believe that the reasons that were -- that influence the movement of the ADB from Abidjan are now very visible where it is now presently domiciled. And I think with the improvements that have taken place in Cote d'Ivoire and the fact that the potential for good that was used in making the initial decisions will be restored.

I think we all look forward to, you know, the relocation of the ADB again, I mean, where they already have established infrastructures of their own. It's not a question of releasing properties where they have established infrastructures of their own. It will be a lot cheaper now economically to run it, and also the political risk has been considerably minimized and I'm sure it will be eliminated very soon.

KANSTEINER: Yes, in the very back there. Yes.

QUESTIONER: (Off mic) -- Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. I'd like to ask a question following up on the foreign intervention method that was mentioned before. For both presidents, for Ivory Coast, the concept of responsibility to protect was explicitly mentioned by the Security Council. Do you think that this was a useful concept? And do you think it might be applied wider and further? I would like that -- to ask it to both presidents.

OUATTARA: Well, this -- since you mentioned Cote d'Ivoire, I think it's -- even today on the special meeting on Libya, I mentioned this -- you know, when you have a regime or a government killing its own people, what do you do? Morally it's not acceptable. In French, they say assistance like that "sont en danger." If you see you're going by the streets and you see someone -- he has a problem, normally you should try to help that problem.

Now, in Libya, just like in Cote d'Ivoire, you had leaders who were killing their own people. And when we were at the Golf Hotel every night, I used to be called because Gbagbo was sending rockets and heavy weapons in some districts in Abidjan, killing 20 or 30 people, on and on and on. When it reached a thousand, I called Ban Ki-moon and others. I said -- (off mic) -- people, you cannot just be insensitive looking at someone because he has heavy weapons, he has constituted munitions just for that -- to stay in power and kill others. So I believe it's a notion which should be expanded.

Of course it should be under the United Nations leadership as it's being done also in Libya. This is very important. It's not a (mandatory ?) concept in my view, because the world is now one place, so people in one part of the world are -- have the same rights as in other parts. And democracy, liberty is a fundamental right for people, so why should they be deprived of that? If demonstrators get killed, if they say they don't agree with you, you kill them -- that of course is not acceptable.

KANSTEINER: Any comment?

QUESTIONER: Well, I -- one of the great technological capabilities that the Council on Foreign Relations has, these wonderful little iPad things that you actually get people all over the country and the world writing in on the Internet questions. And so John Stremlau, who is a former colleague of mine at the State Department and now at the Carter Center, addresses this question to President Ouattara: Could you please comment on the importance for national reconciliation of the Ivorian parliamentary elections? And what are prospects of meeting the December 15th deadline for holding the elections announced recently?

OUATTARA: Yes, thank you. Well, reconciliation is clearly an important objective for us. And we really have -- you see, it's -- the language matters a lot, because with the former president, every time he appeared on television it was to really have positions and words to divide Ivorians and to say things like the responsibility of the problem was from the Burkinabe, the Malians, the Senegalese and with the French, the whites and so forth.

So he was in a framework of division, of hatred. And so I think my first responsibility was to -- is to really talk right, if I may say, to my people.

And this is what we've been doing, to encourage them for reconciliation, for solidarity, for unity and so forth. And as I do that, I see that even it goes down all the way to the villages chiefs -- (off mic) -- are holding the same language now. And we've set up a commission, a dialogue, (through family ?) reconciliation. President Koroma was kind enough to give me the key of all of their discussions on this matter in Sierra Leone.

And on top of that, in setting up the institutions, I made sure that all the different parts of the country and the people are represented. This is also very important. These are small countries, small population. People know each other. If on the Supreme Court you only have people from the north, the others will feel that justice will not be rendered in an equitable manner. If in government you only have people from the south, same thing.

So in forming the government, I went even farther. I asked the party of former President Gbagbo to come into the government. And they said yes and then no. And actually, they couldn't agree among themselves. And as a result, they did not come to the government I had formed. Now we have the parliamentary elections, the -- it should be fixed by the electoral commission. We hope in government that it will be before the 15th of December.

So he was in a framework of division, of hatred. And so I think my first responsibility was to -- is to really talk right, if I may say, to my people.

And this is what we've been doing, to encourage them for reconciliation, for solidarity, for unity and so forth. And as I do that, I see that even it goes down all the way to the villages chiefs -- (off mic) -- are holding the same language now. And we've set up a commission, a dialogue, (through family ?) reconciliation. President Koroma was kind enough to give me the key of all of their discussions on this matter in Sierra Leone.

And on top of that, in setting up the institutions, I made sure that all the different parts of the country and the people are represented. This is also very important. These are small countries, small population. People know each other. If on the Supreme Court you only have people from the north, the others will feel that justice will not be rendered in an equitable manner. If in government you only have people from the south, same thing.

So in forming the government, I went even farther. I asked the party of former President Gbagbo to come into the government. And they said yes and then no. And actually, they couldn't agree among themselves. And as a result, they did not come to the government I had formed. Now we have the parliamentary elections, the -- it should be fixed by the electoral commission. We hope in government that it will be before the 15th of December.

And the challenge there is, you have to really manage the expectations of the people and also take deliberate policies that will take into consideration the sensitivities of the community, the country in which you are dealing with.

In the first place, in terms of the political leadership, you have to ensure that as much as you could, you share the cake evenly and show that there is inclusiveness -- all facets of the society. And in the implementation of the programs, especially programs of development, there has to be an even distribution of developmental activities in the country. That is what we have ensured that we do in Sierra Leone in terms of development -- not only a question of developing one region, but we spread out the development to the extent that anything that happens in one district is replicated in all the districts in the country, that everybody will be feel part and parcel of the new process of moving forward, because it is a process that is very delicate. Any simple misunderstanding or a perception that will be (diverted by ?) especially opponents could be misunderstood. That it why it has to be handled very carefully, and we have to go out and make deliberate policies to ensure that it happens at times, even if it is against your will.

That is where you have to provide the leadership that is required to ensure that everybody feels part and parcel of the process, until when you are comfortably certain that it is no longer a threat in the entire developmental process of the country and you can use other parameters in the allocation of resources or the distribution of positions.

KANSTEINER: Thank you.

Mora, final word.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Mora McLean with the Africa-America Institute. This is a collaboration with the council with AAI, and various members, including our board chair of our board of trustees, are here. I want to -- this isn't characteristic of a CFR event, but I wanted to thank Richard Haass and Beth Cartier and the other people here at the council who made it happen, and Walter Kansteiner, former assistant secretary of state for Africa, for presiding.

But I especially want to thank you, President Koroma, and you, President Ouattara, whom we proudly claim as a member of the AAI alumni network. It is cliche to say that you took time out of your busy schedules, but your schedules are truly hectic today. And we thank you. We could have gone on a great deal longer given all the questions that are hanging in the room. And perhaps we'll have another session.

Thank you.

OUATTARA: Thank you.

KOROMA: Thank you.

KANSTEINER: Thank you, Mora. (Applause.)

I have one last announcement before I release everybody, and that is, in about three hours, at 5:30, our next meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations will be held with Minister Zebari, the foreign minister of Iraq. So 5:30 here.

Thank you all, and thank you, Presidents.

OUATTARA: Thank you.

KOROMA: Thank you very much. (Applause.)






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