Tamasin Ford and Bonnie Allen in Monrovia
Nobel peace prize winner and president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has defended a law that criminalises homosexual acts, saying: "We like ourselves just the way we are."
In a joint interview with Tony Blair, who was left looking visibly uncomfortable by her remarks, Sirleaf told the Guardian: "We've got certain traditional values in our society that we would like to preserve."
Liberian legislation classes "voluntary sodomy" as a misdemeanour punishable by up to one year in prison, but two new bills have been proposed that would target homosexuality with much tougher sentences. The normally charismatic and eloquent Nobel laureate, when questioned, was brusque, "I won't sign any law that has to do with that area. None whatsoever," she said impatiently.
Blair, on a visit to Liberia in his capacity as the founder of the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), a charity that aims to strengthen African governments, refused to comment on Sirleaf's remarks.
When asked whether good governance and human rights went hand in hand, the British former prime minister said: "I'm not giving you an answer on it."