MONROVIA, Liberia, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became president of Liberia in a ceremony held outdoors Monday because the battered country had no suitable public building.
A U.S. delegation headed by first lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined the presidents of South Africa and Nigeria and other international figures for the inauguration of the first woman elected a head of state in Africa.
The BBC reported that guests sat on white plastic chairs and were shielded from the sun by palm matting outside the capitol building.
There was tight security in Monrovia provided by U.N. peacekeepers and Liberian police. Private vehicles were banned from the streets of the capital city and two U.S. warships were deployed off the coast.
In her inaugural address, Johnson Sirleaf called for a moment of silence to remember the thousands who died in Liberia's civil war.
"We know that your vote was a vote for change, a vote for peace, security and we have heard you loudly," she said.