Former UK prime minister Tony Blair avoided answering a question about his view on Liberia’s anti-gay laws during an interview with President Sirleaf.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told the Guardian she would not consider repealing the laws criminalising homosexual acts in her country, saying: “We’ve got certain traditional values in our society that we would like to preserve.”

She added: “We like ourselves just the way we are.”

Mr Blair refused to answer the interviewer when she asked what advice he would give the president, he said: “One of the advantages of doing what I do now is I can choose the issues I get into and the issues I don’t. For us, the priorities are around power, roads, jobs delivery.”

He said the president had given her position and while he was “not saying” they were not “important” issues, the question was “not one” for him.

Asking the interviewer if she knew “how long” he had been doing “these types of interviews”, he laughed and added: “So, I’m not giving you an answer on it.”

Visiting Africa as the founder of the Africa Governance Initiative, he said the charity exists “to try and support governments in getting their programmes of delivery changed” and while people could refer to his gay rights record in the UK, he would not be discussing Liberia’s legislation.

President Sirleaf interrupts when the interviewer says there had been two riots following measures proposed to strengthen the anti-gay laws in the country, saying the charity functions within “specific terms of reference” in Liberia which is “all we require of them”, at which point the video ends.

Watch the video on the Guardian’s website here.