Blair and Obasanjo named for awards in Sierra Leone

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Former British prime minister Tony Blair and former Nigerian leader Olusegun Obsanjo were named Monday to receive Golden Jubilee Awards marking Sierra Leone's 50th independence anniversary on April 27.

A statement signed by President Ernest Koroma and broadcast on nationwide radio and television said, "It has pleased the President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Ernest Koroma to bestow the Golden Jubilee Awards to former British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, in recognition of his distinguised service as a friend and promoter of Sierra Leone and to former President of Nigeria, President Olusegun Obasanjo, for his distinguished services as a friend of Sierra Leone."

Political observers said Blair is fondly liked in the west African state and remembered for dispatching some 800 British paratroopers to the country to help in a two year anti-rebel operation which ended in 2002, and helped to end the country's 11-year civil war.

According to UN figures, that conflict left some 50,000 dead with an estimated 100,000 victims of mutilation.

The British former leader also operates the Tony Blair Foundation which works with universities, agricultural institutions and investment bodies and also advocates for good governance in Sierra Leone.

The two statesmen are scheduled to receive the awards at a ceremony at State House on April 27, but there are no details as yet whether they will attend the ceremony.

© 2011 AFP

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