Source: Star Radio Liberia

Liberia is a multiparty republic. The executive branch is headed by a president who is popularly elected for a four-year renewable term. The bicameral legislature consists of a 26-seat senate and a 64-seat house of representatives. The country has a dual legal system based on Anglo-American common law for the modern sector and customary tribal law for the indigenous sector. Administratively, Liberia is divided into 15 counties.

When freedom raised her glowing form

On Montserrado's verdant heights
She set within the dome of night
Midst low'ring skies and thunderstorm --
The star of liberty.

 A question of freedomSix thousand miles from the United States lies a country whose flag bears a striking resemblance to the American one: alternating red and white horizontal stripes and, in the upper left-hand corner, a dark blue square. Against this blue background is a lone white star -- the star of liberty. The flag is a symbol of the history of the Liberian state, its relationship with America, and its search for its own identity.

The present-day Republic of Liberia occupies 43,000 square miles (slightly more than Tennessee) in West Africa. It is bordered on the southwest by the Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by Guinea, Sierra Leone, and the Ivory Coast. From antiquity through the 1700s, many ethnic groups from the surrounding regions settled in the area, making Liberia one of Africa's most culturally rich and diverse countries. Settled in the early 1800s by freeborn Blacks and former slaves from America, Liberia, whose name means "land of freedom," has always struggled with its double cultural heritage: that of the settlers and of the indigenous Africans.
From America to West AfricaIn 1816, a group made up mostly of Quakers and slaveholders in Washington, D.C., formed the American Colonization Society (ACS). The Quakers opposed slavery, and the slaveholders opposed the freedom of Blacks, but they agreed on one thing: that Black Americans should be repatriated to Africa. The Quakers felt that freeborn Blacks and former slaves would face better chances for freedom in Africa than in the United States. They also saw repatriation as a way of spreading Christianity through Africa. The slaveholders' motives were less charitable: They viewed repatriation of Blacks as a way of avoiding a slave rebellion like the one that had taken place on the island of Santo Domingo, today's Haiti.

Despite opposition from many Blacks and from white abolitionists, the repatriation program, funded by ACS member subscriptions and a number of state legislatures, moved forward. In 1822, the first 86 voluntary, Black emigrants landed on Cape Montserrado, on what was then known as the Grain Coast. They arrived with white agents of the ACS who would govern them for many years. Many others followed, settling on land sometimes purchased, sometimes obtained more forcefully, from indigenous chiefs.

Settlers shared the land with indigenous tribes.
The first years were a challenge: The settlers suffered from malaria and yellow fever, common in the area's coastal plains and mangrove swamps, and from attacks by the native populations who were, at various times, unhappy -- unhappy with the expansion of the settlements along the coast; with the settlers' efforts to put an end to the lucrative slave trading in which some ethnic groups were engaged; and at the settlers' attempts to Christianize their communities. Despite these difficulties, the Black settlers were determined to show the world that they could create, develop, and run their own country. And so they kept arriving.

In 1824, the settlement was named Monrovia, after the American president (and ACS member) James Monroe, and the colony became the Republic of Liberia. Over the next 40 years, 19,000 African American repatriates, sometimes known as Americo-Liberians, settled in Liberia, along with some 5,000 Africans recaptured from slave ships, and a small number of West Indian immigrants.
Early settlers brought their place names and architecture.Settlers were determined to create a Black America overseas.
A two-tiered society struggles to stand on its own feetThe settlers recreated American society, building churches and homes that resembled Southern plantations. And they continued to speak English. They also entered into a complex relationship with the indigenous people -- marrying them in some cases, discriminating against them in others, but all the time attempting to "civilize" them and impose Western values on the traditional communities. After Liberia declared its independence in 1847, Joseph J. Roberts, a freeborn Black who was born in the American state of Virginia, was elected Liberia's first president. It had taken fewer than 25 years for the Blacks from America to begin to govern their own, free country. Soon after his inauguration, President Roberts traveled to Europe, where he was received in the courts of Queen Victoria and Napoleon III. Queen Victoria gave him a gunship to combat slavery, which had continued along the coast with unscrupulous native traders who preyed on weaker ethnic groups. Not surprisingly, England and France were the first countries to recognize Liberia's independence in 1848. Roberts and his senators, all American-born, resolved to create a country based on the principles of justice and equal rights.

The settlers built schools and a university, and during the early years, agriculture, shipbuilding, and trade flourished. Yet as Liberia expanded its borders, a government of repatriates located largely on the coast attempted to establish control over a growing native population located largely in the interior. Over the next few decades, escalating economic difficulties began to weaken the state's dominance over the coastal indigenous population. When the financially burdened ACS withdrew its support, conditions worsened as Liberia tried desperately to modernize its largely agricultural economy. The cost of imports was far greater than the income generated by exports of coffee, rice, palm oil, sugarcane, and timber. Liberia was also struggling under the burden of heavy loans, primarily from Britain. By 1909, the government was bankrupt and forced to borrow further, in large part from the United States.
Forced labor was very much like slavery.To bring in more revenue , the Liberian state leased large areas of land to American companies such as Firestone, which operated a massive rubber plantation in the African nation. The terms of the leases were strongly in favor of the private companies. The final straw came in 1930 when an accusation by the League of Nations, of "forced labor ... hardly distinguishable from slavery," turned out to be true. The government collapsed, and the new president, Edwin Barclay, dealt with the mounting discontent among his people by introducing increasingly repressive laws.
An international profile, and trouble at homeDespite its political, economic, and social troubles, Liberia, as the only free republic in Africa, was a model for African colonies struggling to achieve independence. William V.S. Tubman, elected president in 1944, further highlighted the country's world profile by traveling abroad and allowing international investment in Liberia. With this investment and the income from the newly discovered mineral deposits, he modernized parts of Liberia (mostly along the coast) and built schools, roads, and hospitals. Tubman also expanded the incorporation of indigenous populations into the social and economic mainstream, granting them, for example, the right to vote. Under Tubman, Liberia was a founding member of the United Nations as well as of the Organization of African Unity, and he strongly championed the independence of other African states.

Despite these developments, the gap between the ruling elite and the indigenous populations increased. Tubman was criticized for being too influenced by the United States and its interests in the area (i.e., the fight against communism), and for repressing political opposition. Tubman's rule became gradually more authoritarian : He changed the constitution to allow himself to remain in office for seven consecutive terms, gagged the press, and introduced a system of government spies to report on all political activity.
Tolbert wanted Liberia to be a force for African unity and civil rights. Tolbert became a tragic figure.

By the time Tubman died in 1971, frustrations in Liberia were running high. His vice president and successor, William R. Tolbert, attempted to improve the economic and political climate by introducing many new changes. But the damage of the past seemed irreparable. The majority of the population was poor and lacked basic amenities such as access to safe water and electricity. Tolbert's attempt to liberalize Liberian society backfired -- some thought he was moving too quickly, while others thought he wasn't moving quickly enough. Many could no longer bear the political dominance of the descendants of American settlers. At the same time, Tolbert's own administration opposed his efforts to bring more indigenous Liberians into the upper echelons of government. Tolbert's proposal in 1979 to increase the price of imported rice, a basic part of the Liberian diet, as a tactic to encourage local production was interpreted negatively, and this provided the spark for demonstrations which rapidly turned violent.
Doe led the coup that resulted in the assassination of Tolbert. Doe's supporters thought the coup would get rid of Americo-Liberian domination.

Doe didn't understand the complexities of the task ahead. (1:00) Watch

Violence spreads

Some soldiers in the army sympathized with the demonstrators, but others strongly believed in the power of the military. In 1980, a group of enlisted men led by Samuel K. Doe, a 28-year-old indigenous master sergeant, fought their way into the presidential mansion and shot Tolbert to death. Shortly afterwards, 13 members of the Cabinet were publicly executed. Hundreds of government workers fled the country, while others were imprisoned.

Many people welcomed Doe's takeover as a shift favoring the majority of the population that had been excluded from power. The new government, led by the leaders of the coup d'├Ętat and calling itself the People's Redemption Council (PRC), lacked experience and was ill prepared to rule. Soon there were internal rifts, and Doe began to systematically eliminate Council members who challenged his authority. Paranoid about the possibility of a counter-coup, Doe began to favor people of his own ethnic background, the Krahns, placing them in key positions. Among ordinary Liberians, support for Doe's government soon dampened.

In 1985, Doe declared himself the winner of a presidential election he had actually lost. His corrupt government became more repressive, shutting down newspapers and banning political activity. The government's mistreatment of certain ethnic groups, particularly the Gio (or Dan) and the Mano in the north, resulted in divisions and violence among indigenous populations who until then had coexisted relatively peacefully.
Rebels were ready to be organized by Taylor. Taylor was rumored to have the backing of affluent Liberians who wanted to get rid of Doe. (:50) Watch

Civil war

The brutal treatment they faced at the hands of the Liberian army drove some indigenous northerners across the border to the Ivory Coast. There, a man named Charles Taylor organized and trained many of them. Taylor had previously served as deputy minister of commerce under Doe, but was imprisoned for allegedly transferring millions of government funds into his own account. He was reported to have bribed his way out of a Massachusetts jail. When Taylor and his force of 100 rebels reentered Liberia in 1989, on Christmas Eve, thousands of Gio and Mano joined them. While they formed the core of his rebel army, there were many Liberians of other ethnic backgrounds who joined as well. A brutal civil war ensued.
Military peacekeeping forces gave a fragile sense of security. People hoped that a vote for Taylor would mean an end to the bloodshed.

In September 1990, Doe was captured and tortured to death by another rebel group originally associated with Taylor, while fighting between the rebels and the Liberian army escalated into civil war. Entire villages were emptied as people fled. Soldiers, some of them still children, committed unspeakable atrocities, raping and murdering people of all ages, in what became one of the world's worst episodes of ethnic cleansing .

Five years later, at a conference sponsored by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations and the United States, the European Union, and the Organization of African Unity, Charles Taylor agreed to a cease-fire and a timetable to demobilize and disarm his troops. In a climate hardly conducive to free movement and security of persons, he won a 1997 presidential election against 12 other candidates. Liberians had voted for him in the hope that he would end the bloodshed.

The bloodshed did slow considerably, but it has not ended. Violent events have flared up regularly since the end of the war. Taylor, furthermore, has been accused of backing guerrillas in neighboring countries and funneling diamond monies into arms purchases for the rebel armies he supported, and into luxuries for himself.
The end of the turmoil?Seven years of civil war undid much of what Liberia had achieved. Most of the country's infrastructure and public buildings were destroyed. Two hundred thousand people were killed, and another 800,000 displaced from their homes. Close to another 700,000 became refugees in neighboring countries. Recent reports from international political, environmental, and humanitarian groups point to Liberia's sky-high unemployment, continuing human rights violations, and the uncertainty of the upcoming 2003 elections.

Today, the Liberian people are just beginning the slow process of recovering from the economic, social, political, and psychological trauma of the war. The world waits and watches to see if the cycle of clashes between different populations has truly been broken, and if Liberia can rebuild itself as a unified nation to achieve the promise of its star of liberty.

Then forward sons of freedom march
Defend our sacred heritage
A nation's call from age to age
A nation's loud triumphant song
The song of liberty!

The Lone Star forever, the Lone Star forever
Oh, long may it flow over land and o'er sea
Desert it, no never!
Uphold it, forever!
Oh, shout for the Lone Starr'd banner, all hail.

LiberiaA Brief History of Liberia – Part 1 - From US State Department

Liberia, where the American Colonization Society established the first settlement, Monrovia, in 1822 on land 'granted' by local rulers, becomes an independent republic with a constitution based on that of the US.
Unfortunately the ex-slave colonists applied the US template too well, and set about enslaving Africans from the interior, and neighboring countries. Source: American Colonization Society established

European Foothold:

Portuguese explorers established contacts with Liberia as early as 1461 and named the area Grain Coast because of the abundance of grains of Malegueta Pepper. In 1663 the British installed trading posts on the Grain Coast, but the Dutch destroyed these posts a year later. There were no further reports of European settlements along the Grain Coast until the arrival of freed slaves in the early 1800s.

Arrival of the Freed Slaves:

Liberia, which means "land of the free," was founded by free African-Americans and freed slaves from the United States in 1820. An initial group of 86 immigrants, who came to be called Americo-Liberians, established a settlement in Christopolis (now Monrovia, named after U.S. President James Monroe) on 6 February 1820.

Path to Independence for the Republic of Liberia:

Thousands of freed American slaves and free African-Americans arrived during the following years, leading to the formation of more settlements and culminating in a declaration of independence of the Republic of Liberia on 26 July 1847. The drive to resettle freed slaves in Africa was promoted by the American Colonization Society (ACS), an organization of white clergymen, abolitionists, and slave owners founded in 1816 by Robert Finley, a Presbyterian minister.

Under the Thumb of the American Colonization Society:

Between 1821 and 1867 the ACS resettled some 10,000 African-Americans and several thousand Africans from interdicted slave ships; it governed the Commonwealth of Liberia until independence in 1847. In Liberia's early years, the Americo-Liberian settlers periodically encountered stiff and sometimes violent opposition from indigenous Africans, who were excluded from citizenship in the new Republic until 1904. At the same time, British and French colonial expansionists encroached upon Liberia, taking over much of its territory.

Americo-Liberian Elite Exploit The Indigenous People:

Politically, the country was a one-party state ruled by the True Whig Party (TWP). Joseph Jenkins Roberts, who was born and raised in America, was Liberia's first President. The style of government and constitution was fashioned on that of the United States, and the Americo-Liberian elite monopolized political power and restricted the voting rights of the indigenous population.

Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe's Coup Ends Americo-Liberian Domination:

The True Whig Party dominated all sectors of Liberia from independence in 1847 until 12 April 1980, when indigenous Liberian Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe (from the Krahn ethnic group) seized power in a coup d'etat. Doe's forces executed President William R. Tolbert and several officials of his government, mostly of Americo-Liberian descent. One hundred and thirty-three years of Americo-Liberian political domination ended with the formation of the People's Redemption Council (PRC).

Chronyism Leads to Ethnic Tension:

Over time, the Doe government began promoting members of Doe's Krahn ethnic group, who soon dominated political and military life in Liberia. This raised ethnic tension and caused frequent hostilities between the politically and militarily dominant Krahns and other ethnic groups in the country.

Political Discord and Attempted Coups:

After the October 1985 elections, characterized by widespread fraud, Doe solidified his control. The period after the elections saw increased human rights abuses, corruption, and ethnic tensions. The standard of living further deteriorated. On 12 November 1985, former Army Commanding Gen. Thomas Quiwonkpa almost succeeded in toppling the government of Samuel Doe. The Armed Forces of Liberia repelled Quiwonkpa's attack and executed him in Monrovia. Doe's Krahn-dominated forces carried out reprisals against Mano and Gio civilians suspected of supporting Quiwonkpa.

Dictator Doe, Darling of the US:

Despite Doe's poor human rights record and questionable democratic credentials, he retained close relations with Washington. A staunch U.S. ally, Doe met twice with President Ronald Reagan and enjoyed considerable U.S. financial support.

Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front Rebellion:

On 24 December 1989, a small band of rebels led by Doe's former procurement chief, Charles Taylor, invaded Liberia from the Ivory Coast. Taylor and his National Patriotic Front rebels rapidly gained the support of many Liberians and reached the outskirts of Monrovia within six months.

A Brief History of Liberia - Part 2 - From US State Department

Bloody Civil War in Liberia:

From 1989 to 1996 one of Africa's bloodiest civil wars ensued, claiming the lives of more than 200,000 Liberians and displacing a million others into refugee camps in neighboring countries. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened in 1990 and succeeded in preventing Charles Taylor from capturing Monrovia. Prince Johnson – formerly a member of Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) – formed the break-away Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL).

Trying to Find Common Ground for Government:On 9 September 1990 Prince Johnson's forces captured and killed Doe. Taking refuge in Sierra Leone and other neighboring countries, former AFL soldiers founded the new insurgent United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO), fighting back Taylor’s NPFL. An Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU) was formed in Gambia under the auspices of ECOWAS in October 1990, headed by Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer. Taylor (along with other Liberian factions) refused to work with the interim government and continued fighting.

Transitional Government:Dr. Sawyer, for the Liberian People's Party, LPP, remained in power until 7 March 1994, and was succeeded by a rapid succession of heads of state (David Donald Kpormakpor, Wilton G. S. Sankawulo, and Ruth Sando Perry) acting as Chairmen of the Council of State for the Liberian National Transitional Government, LNTG. Ruth Perry was Africa's first non-elected Female leader.

Charles Ghankay Taylor for President:After more than a dozen peace accords and declining military power, Taylor finally agreed to the formation of a five-man transitional government. A hasty disarmament and demobilization of warring factions was followed by special elections on 19 July 1997. Charles Taylor and his National Patriotic Party, NPP, emerged victorious. Taylor won the election by a large majority, primarily because Liberians feared a return to war had Taylor lost.

Exporting War to Sierra Leone:For the next six years, the Taylor government did not improve the lives of Liberians. Unemployment and illiteracy stood above 75%, and little investment was made in the country's infrastructure. (Liberia is still trying to recover from the ravages of war; pipe-borne water and electricity are generally unavailable to most of the population, especially outside Monrovia, and schools, hospitals, roads, and infrastructure remain derelict.) Rather than work to improve the lives of Liberians, Taylor supported the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone.

Opposing Liberia's Lord of Misrule:Taylor’s misrule led to the resumption of armed rebellion from among Taylor's former adversaries. By 2003, armed groups called "Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy" (LURD) and "Movement for Democracy in Liberia" (MODEL), largely representing elements of the former ULIMO-K and ULIMO-J factions that fought Taylor during Liberia’s previous civil war (1989-1996), were challenging Taylor and his increasingly fragmented supporters on the outskirts of Monrovia.

Sierra Leone Indicts Liberian President Charles Taylor:On 4 June 2003 in Accra, Ghana, ECOWAS facilitated peace talks among the Government of Liberia, civil society, and the LURD and MODEL rebel groups. On the same day, the Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone issued a press statement announcing the opening of a sealed 7 March 2003 indictment of Liberian President Charles Taylor for "bearing the greatest responsibility" for atrocities in Sierra Leone since November 1996.

President Taylor Resigns:In July 2003 the Government of Liberia, LURD, and MODEL signed a cease-fire that all sides failed to respect; bitter fighting reached downtown Monrovia in July and August 2003, creating a massive humanitarian disaster. On August 11, 2003, under intense U.S. and international pressure, President Taylor resigned office and departed into exile in Nigeria. He was succeeded for an interim period of two months by President Moses Zeh Blah of the NPP. Taylor's move paved the way for the deployment by ECOWAS of what became a 3,600-strong peacekeeping mission in Liberia (ECOMIL).

A National Transitional Government prepares Liberia for the Future:On 18 August leaders from the Liberian Government, the rebels, political parties, and civil society signed a comprehensive peace agreement that laid the framework for constructing a 2-year National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), headed by businessman Charles Gyude Bryant – he became head of state on 14 October. The UN took over security in Liberia in October 2003, subsuming ECOMIL into the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), a force that grew to nearly 15,000.

Free and Fair Elections, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Takes Charge:The October 11, 2005 presidential and legislative elections and the subsequent November 8, 2005 presidential run-off were the most free, fair, and peaceful elections in Liberia’s history. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf defeated international soccer star George Weah 59.4% to 40.6% to become Africa’s first democratically elected female president. She was inaugurated on16 January 2006 formed a government of technocrats drawn from among Liberia's ethnic groups, including members of the Liberian diaspora who have returned to the country to rebuild government institutions.

A chronology of key events in Liberia's history. Part 1 - 1460s to 1990.

1460s Portuguese traders arrive along the Grain Coast (now Liberia).

1820 The Elizabeth Sails from New York for West Africa - the American Colonization Society (its full name was the American Society for Colonizing the Free People of Color of the United States) arranged for its first wave of colonizers to head for what is now Liberia (6 February).

1821 Liberated US slaves and Freemen are settled along the coast by the American Colonization Society.

1847 Liberia becomes an independent state (26 July). Its constitution is based on that of the United States of America. Joseph J Roberts, a freed man born in Virginia, becomes its first president.

1890s In response to the Scramble for Africa by European powers, especially Britain and France, the Liberian government formally designates the country's boundaries.

1915 Indigenous peoples rise up against Americo-Liberians.

1917 The Allies have access to a base in West Africa after Liberia declares war on Germany.

1926 Liberian government grants land to the Firestone Tyre and Rubber Company. Rubber becomes Liberia's main cash crop.

1936 Liberian government takes action against force labor.

1944 William VS Tubman of the True Whig Party becomes president (3 January).

As with World War I, the Allies once again gain a base in West Africa when Liberia declares war on Germany.

1951 Indigenous land owners and women gain the franchise.

1951 Liberian government legislates against racial discrimination.

1960 Liberia becomes a 'flag of convenience' for international shippers..

1971 President William VS Tubman dies on office, he is succeeded by William Richard Tolbert (23 July).

1974 Political ties are forged with the Soviet Union, who in return provides Liberia with aid.

1974 A trade agreement is signed between Liberia and the European Economic Community.

1979 Rioting starts against Americo-Liberian supremacy after severe price rises for rice.

1980 President William Richard Tolbert of the True Whig Party is assassinated along with 13 of his aides. Master sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe assumes power as Chairman of the People's Redemption Council in a military coup (12 April).

1984 Doe's government agrees to the return of party politics in Liberia after international pressure from the US and other major creditors.

Samuel Kanyon Doe declares himself president ahead of general elections (25 July).

1986 Samuel Kanyon Doe wins elections and is officially declared president (6 January).

1989 Gankay Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) begins a rebellion against Doe's government.

1990 Civil war erupts - Samuel Doe's Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) are challenged by two rebel groups, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (Taylor's NPFL) and the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL). The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) peace keeping force ECOMOG is sent into the country to help restore order, with backing from Ghana and Nigeria.

Samuel Doe is assassinated by a section of the NPFL (9 September). Liberia's various warlords, including Charles Taylor, vie for leadership.

Amos Claudius Sawyer becomes acting president for an Interim Government of National Unity (22 November) with the support of ECOWAS and the NPFL.

Liberia Timeline Part two
1992 to 2007.

1992 ECOMOG peacekeepers are attacked by NPFL forces in Monrovia, the Liberian capital. ECOMOG succeeds in pushing the NPFL out into the surrounding countryside.

1993 A tentative agreement towards a National Transitional Government fails.

1994 David Donald Kpormakpor becomes Chairman of the Council of State of the Liberian National Transitional Government (7 March).

1995 A ceasefire is agreed by warring factions. Wilton G. S. Sankawulo takes over as Chairman of the Council of State of the Liberian National Transitional Government (1 September). Other members of the Council include Ghankay Charles Taylor and Roosevelt Johnson.

1996 Ceasefire breaks down, fighting is reported around Monrovia (April).

ECOMOG peacekeepers begin disarmament of warring factions (August).

Liberia's first (non-elected) woman leader, Ruth Sando Perry, takes over as Chairman of the Council of State of the Liberian National Transitional Government (3 September).

1997 Following elections in July, Ghankay Charles Taylor of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) becomes president (2 August) with a landslide win. International observers declare the election 'free and fair' but opposition groups are still forcefully active.

1999 Liberia is accused by Nigeria and Ghana of giving support to United Front rebels in Sierra Leone.

After Guinea is accused of aiding rebel forces which attacked the border town of Voinjama, Guinea claims Liberian forces have crossed into its territory.

2000 A "massive offensive" is initiated by Liberian forces against rebels (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, LURD) in the Lofa region to the north.

Taylor's government once again accused Guinea of shelling villages along the border.

2001 Rampaging civil war results in borders with Sierra Leone and Guinea being closed. The Liberian government claims that Sierra Leonean rebel, Sam 'The Mosquito' Bockarie, has left the country.

2002 President Charles Taylor declares a state of emergency.

2003 Rebel forces approach the capital, by March they are only 10 km away.

President Charles Taylor is accused of war crimes over his support for rebel forces in Sierra Leone (June) – this overshadows ceasefire talks in Ghana.

ECOWAS agrees to provide peacekeeping forces as rebel troops battle for control of the capital Monrovia.

Charles Taylor hands over power to his deputy, Moses Zeh Blah (11 August). US troops arrive in Monrovia (President Bush insisted that Taylor had to leave the country before US personnel arrived). By October the US forces have been pulled out and 3,500 UN troops are deployed in the capital

An interim National Transitional Government is formed, with the backing of rebel leaders, with Charles Gyude Bryant (Liberia Action Party) as Chairman (14 October).

2004 Riots in Monrovia leave 14 dead.

2005 Africa's first elected head of state, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, is elected president (23 November). She is the first elected woman leader in Africa.

2006 Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of the Unity Party is inaugurated as president (16 January).

Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission is set up to investigate human rights abuses between 1979 and 2003 (21 February). Its three main goals are: to foster reconciliation and forgiveness, to provide assistance and aid to those who experienced human rights abuses, and to engender a national framework for truth and justice.

Charles Taylor appears before a UN court in Sierra Leone charged with crimes against humanity (3 April). He pleads 'not guilty' to all charges.

2007 Charles Taylor's war crimes trial begins in The Hague, Netherlands (June)

Back ground note on Liberia

A useful potted history is included with these US Department of State Background Notes on Liberia. Also included is a range of political, economic, and geographical data, as well as information on its people, defence, and relations with the US. See: US State Department

Liberia - a Country Profile from the BBC

An extremely brief historical overview accompanies this BBC Country Profile of Liberia. Of particular interest are the simplified regional map (see where the country is in Africa), a photograph of Liberia’s current Chief of State, and details about the countries media. See: BBC Coountry Profile of Liberia

Timeline for Liberia from the BBC
A chronology of important events in the history of Liberia given by year (and for more recent events by month also). See: Timeline for Liberia from the BBC

CIA World Fact Book: Liberia
A useful map and a range of geographical, political, and economic facts which are mostly up-to-date. Unfortunately this country profile lacks historical information (except for independence date), but the population statistics are probably the best available. See: CIA World Fact Book: Liberia

Liberia's Chief of State and Cabinet Ministers
Updated weekly, this list of Liberia's Chief of State and Cabinet Ministers is provided by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America. See: Liberia's Chief of State and Cabinet Ministers

News and Current Affairs in Liberia from AlertNet
As well as the usual Country Profile information available on the web, AlertNet offers up to date news headlines about humanitarian efforts and crises in Liberia. See: News and Current Affairs in Liberia from AlertNet
Source: http://africanhistory.about.com/od/liberia/Liberia.htm

News Headline

Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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