Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
|24th President of Liberia|
16 January 2006 –22 January 2018
|Vice President||Joseph Boakai|
|Preceded by||Gyude Bryant|
|Succeeded by||George Weah|
Ellen Eugenia Johnson
29 October 1938
|Political party|| Unity (until 2018)|
(m. 1956;div. 1961)
|Alma mater|| Madison Business College |
University of Colorado Boulder
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (born 29 October 1938) is a Liberian politician who served as the 24th President of Liberia from 2006 to 2018. Sirleaf was the first elected female head of state in Africa.
Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the West African coast. It is bordered by Sierra Leone to its northwest, Guinea to its north, Ivory Coast to its east, and the Atlantic Ocean to its south-southwest. It covers an area of 111,369 square kilometers (43,000 sq mi) and has a population of around 4,900,000. English is the official language and over 20 indigenous languages are spoken, representing the numerous ethnic groups who make up more than 95% of the population. The country's capital and largest city is Monrovia.
The President of the Republic of Liberia is the head of state and government of Liberia. The president serves as the leader of the executive branch and as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia.
Born in Monrovia to a Gola father and Kru-German mother, Sirleaf was educated at the College of West Africa before moving to the United States, where she studied at Madison Business College and Harvard University. She returned to Liberia to work in William Tolbert's government as Deputy Minister of Finance from 1971 to 1974 and later went to work for the World Bank in the Caribbean and Latin America. She returned to work for the late president Tolbert's government again as deputy minister of Finance before being promoted to the post of Minister of Finance from 1979 to 1980. After Samuel Doe seized power in a coup d'état and executed Tolbert, Sirleaf fled to the United States. She worked for Citibank and then the Equator Bank before returning to Liberia to contest a senatorial seat for Montserrado county in the disputed 1985 elections.
Monrovia is the capital city of the West African country of Liberia. Located on the Atlantic Coast at Cape Mesurado, Monrovia had a population of 1,010,970 as of the 2008 census. With 29% of the total population of Liberia, Monrovia is the country's most populous city.
The Gola or Gula are a tribal people living in western/northwestern Liberia and Eastern Sierra Leone. The Gola language is an isolate within the Niger–Congo language family; in 1991 it was spoken by 200,000 people. As of 2015, it is spoken by about 278,000 people.
The Kru or Kroo are a West African ethnic group who originated in eastern Liberia and migrated and settled along various points of the West African coast, notably Freetown, Sierra Leone, but also the Ivorian and Nigerian coasts. The Kru were famous for their skills in navigating and sailing the Atlantic. Their maritime expertise evolved along the west coast of Africa as they made livings as fishermen and traders. Knowing the in-shore waters of the western coast of Africa, and having nautical experience, they were employed as sailors, navigators and interpreters aboard slave ships, as well as American and British warships used against the slave trade.
After returning to Liberia, Sirleaf ran for office, and finished in second place at the 1997 presidential election won by Charles Taylor. She won the 2005 presidential election and took office on 16 January 2006. She was re-elected in 2011. In June 2016, she was elected as the Chair of the Economic Community of West African States, making her the first woman to hold the position since it was created.
Charles McArthur Ghankay Taylor is a Liberian war criminal and former politician who served as the 22nd President of Liberia from 2 August 1997 until his resignation on 11 August 2003.
The Economic Community of West African States, also known as ECOWAS, is a regional economic union of fifteen countries located in West Africa. Collectively, these countries comprise an area of 5,114,162 km2 (1,974,589 sq mi), and in 2015 had an estimated population of over 349 million.
In 2011, Sirleaf was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen. The three women were recognized "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Swedish industrialist, inventor, and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel, along with the prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology or Medicine, and Literature. Since March 1901, it has been awarded annually to those who have "done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses".
Leymah Roberta Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist responsible for leading a women's nonviolent peace movement, Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace that helped bring an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. Her efforts to end the war, along with her collaborator Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, helped usher in a period of peace and enabled a free election in 2005 that Sirleaf won. She, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman, were awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."
Tawakkul Abdul-Salam Karman is a Yemeni journalist, politician, and human rights activist. She leads the group "Women Journalists Without Chains," which she co-founded in 2005. She became the international public face of the 2011 Yemeni uprising that is part of the Arab Spring uprisings. In 2011, she was reportedly called the "Iron Woman" and "Mother of the Revolution" by some Yemenis. She is a co-recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the first Yemeni, the first Arab woman, and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Prize and the second youngest Nobel Peace Laureate to date.
Sirleaf was conferred the Indira Gandhi Prize by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on 12 September 2013.In 2016, she was listed as the 83rd-most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine.
The Indira Gandhi Prize or the Indira Gandhi Peace Prize or the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development is the prestigious award accorded annually by Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust to individuals or organisations in recognition of creative efforts toward promoting international peace, development and a new international economic order; ensuring that scientific discoveries are used for the larger good of humanity, and enlarging the scope of freedom. The prize carries a cash award of 2.5 million Indian rupees and a citation. A written work, in order to be eligible for consideration, should have been published. The panel constituted by the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust consists of prominent national and international personalities including previous recipients. The recipients are chosen from a pool of national and international nominees.
Pranab Mukherjee is an Indian politician who served as the 13th President of India from 2012 until 2017. He is a Bharat Ratna awardee, awarded in 2019 by President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind. In a political career spanning five decades, Mukherjee has been a senior leader in the Indian National Congress and has occupied several ministerial portfolios in the Government of India. Prior to his election as President, Mukherjee was Union Finance Minister from 2009 to 2012.
Since 2004, Forbes has compiled a list of the 100 most powerful women in the world. It is edited by notable Forbes journalists, including Moira Forbes, and is based on visibility and economic impact. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has remained at the top spot since 2006, with the brief exception of 2010 where she was temporarily supplanted by then U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama.
Sirleaf's father was Gola and her mother had mixed Kru and German ancestry.While not Americo-Liberian in terms of ancestry, because of her education in the West, Sirleaf is considered culturally Americo-Liberian by some observers, or assumed to be Americo-Liberian. Sirleaf does not identify as such.
Sirleaf's father, Jahmale Carney Johnson, was born into a Gola family in an impoverished rural region.He was the son of a minor Gola chief named Jahmale and one of his wives, Jenneh, in Julijuah, Bomi County. Her father was sent to Monrovia, where he changed his surname to Johnson due to his father's loyalty to President Hilary R. W. Johnson, Liberia's first native-born president. He grew up in Monrovia, where he was raised by an Americo-Liberian family with the surname McCritty. Sirleaf's father later became the first Liberian from an indigenous ethnic group to be elected to the country's national legislature. Sirleaf's mother was also born into poverty, in Greenville. Her grandmother, Juah Sarwee, sent Sirleaf's mother to Monrovia when Sirleaf's German grandfather had to flee the country after Liberia declared war on Germany during World War I. A member of a prominent Americo-Liberian family, Cecilia Dunbar, adopted and raised Sirleaf's mother.
Sirleaf was born in Monrovia in 1938.She attended the College of West Africa, a preparatory school, from 1948 to 1955. She married James Sirleaf when she was seventeen years old. The couple had four sons together, and she was primarily occupied as a homemaker. Early on in their marriage, James worked for the Department of Agriculture, and Sirleaf worked as a bookkeeper for an auto-repair shop.
She traveled with her husband to the United States in 1961 to continue her education and earned an associate degree in Accounting at Madison Business College, in Madison, Wisconsin.When they returned to Liberia, James continued his work in the Agriculture Department and Sirleaf pursued a career in the Treasury Department (Ministry of Finance). They divorced in 1961 because of James' abuse.
Sirleaf returned to college to finish her bachelor's degree. In 1970, she earned a BA in economics from the Economics Institute of the University of Colorado Boulder,where she also spent a summer preparing for graduate studies. Sirleaf studied economics and public policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government from 1969 to 1971, gaining a Master of Public Administration. She returned to her native Liberia to work in the administration of William Tolbert, where she was appointed as Assistant Minister of Finance. Whilst in that position, she attracted attention with a "bombshell" speech to the Liberian Chamber of Commerce that claimed that the country's corporations were harming the economy by hoarding or sending their profits overseas.
Sirleaf served as Assistant Minister from 1972 to 1973 in the Tolbert administration. She resigned after a disagreement about government spending. Subsequently, she was appointed as Minister of Finance a few years later, serving from 1979 to April 1980.
Master Sergeant Samuel Doe, a member of the indigenous Krahn ethnic group, seized power in a military coup on 12 April 1980; he ordered the assassination of Tolbert and execution by firing squad of all but four members of his Cabinet. The People's Redemption Council took control of the country and led a purge against the previous government. Sirleaf initially accepted a post in the new government as President of the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment. She fled the country in November 1980 after publicly criticising Doe and the People's Redemption Council for their management of the country.
Sirleaf initially moved to Washington, D.C., and worked for the World Bank.In 1981, she moved to Nairobi, Kenya to serve as Vice President of the African Regional Office of Citibank. She resigned from Citibank in 1985 following her involvement at the 1985 general election in Liberia. She went to work for Equator Bank, a subsidiary of HSBC.
In 1992, Sirleaf was appointed as the Director of the United Nations Development Programme's Regional Bureau for Africa at the rank of Assistant Administrator and Assistant Secretary General (ASG). She resigned from this role in 1997 in order to run for the presidency of Liberia. During her time at the UN, she was one of the seven internationally eminent persons designated in 1999 by the Organization of African Unity to investigate the Rwandan genocide, one of the five Commission Chairs for the Inter-Congolese Dialogue, and one of the two international experts selected by UNIFEM to investigate and report on the effect of conflict on women and women's roles in peace building. She was the initial Chairperson of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and a visiting Professor of Governance at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA).
While working at Citibank, Sirleaf returned to Liberia in 1985 to run for Vice President under Jackson Doe on the ticket of the Liberian Action Party in the 1985 elections. However, Sirleaf was placed under house arrest in August 1985 and soon after sentenced to ten years in prison for sedition, as a consequence of a speech in which she insulted the members of the Samuel Doe regime. Following international calls for her release, Samuel Doe pardoned and released her in September. Due to government pressure, she was removed from the presidential ticket and instead ran for a Senate seat in Montserrado County.
In the 1985 elections, Samuel Doe and the National Democratic Party won the presidency and large majorities in both houses. The elections were widely condemned as neither free nor fair. Sirleaf was declared the winner of her Senate race, but she refused to accept the seat in protest of the election fraud.
After an attempted coup against the Doe government by Thomas Quiwonkpa on 12 November 1985, Sirleaf was arrested and imprisoned again on 13 November by Doe's forces. Despite continuing to refuse to accept her seat in the Senate, she was released in July 1986. She secretly fled the country to the United States later that year.
At the beginning of the First Liberian Civil War in 1989, Sirleaf supported Charles Taylor's rebellion against Doe. She helped raise money for the war and founded the National Patriotic Front of Liberia with Taylor and Tom Woewiyu. Because of this, Doe's government recommended that Sirleaf be banned from politics in Liberia for 30 years.
But, she later opposed Taylor's handling of the war and his treatment of rival opposition leaders such as Jackson Doe. By 1996, the presence of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) peacekeepers led to a cessation of hostilities. The nation held the 1997 general election, which Sirleaf returned to Liberia to contest. She ran as the presidential candidate for the Unity Party and placed second in a controversial election, getting 25% of the vote to Charles Taylor's 75%. After controversy about the results and being accused of treason, Sirleaf left Liberia and went into exile in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
After the end of the Second Liberian Civil War and the establishment of a transitional government, Sirleaf was proposed as a possible candidate for chairman of the government. Ultimately, Gyude Bryant, a political neutral, was chosen as chairman, while Sirleaf served as head of the Governance Reform Commission.
Sirleaf stood for president as the candidate of the Unity Party in the 2005 general election. She placed second in the first round of voting behind footballer George Weah.In the subsequent run-off election, Sirleaf earned 59% of the vote versus 40% for Weah, though Weah disputed the results. The announcement of the new leader was postponed until further election investigations were carried out. On 23 November 2005, Sirleaf was declared the winner of the Liberian election and confirmed as the country's next president. Her inauguration, attended by many foreign dignitaries, including United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and First Lady Laura Bush, took place on 16 January 2006.
In January 2010, Sirleaf announced that she would run for a second term in office in the 2011 presidential election while speaking to a joint session of the Legislature.Opposition leaders noted that in doing so, she had broken a promise made during her 2005 campaign to only serve one term if elected. Sirleaf was renominated as the Unity Party's presidential candidate at the party's national convention on 31 October 2010. That same day, Vice President Joseph Boakai was nominated by Sirleaf and confirmed by the delegates as Sirleaf's running mate.
The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Sirleaf four days prior to the election sparked criticism from opposition parties, with Congress for Democratic Change candidate Winston Tubman calling the award "undeserved" and "a political interference in our country's politics."Sirleaf called the timing of the award a coincidence and avoided mentioning the award during the final days of campaigning.
Sirleaf garnered 43.9% of the vote in the first round, more than any other candidate but short of the 50% needed to avoid a run-off. Tubman came in second with 32.7%, pitting him against Sirleaf in the second round.Tubman called for a boycott of the run-off, claiming that the results of the first round had been fraudulent. Sirleaf denied the allegations, and international observers reported that the first round election had been free, fair and transparent. As a result of the boycott, Sirleaf won the second round with 90.7% of the vote, though voter turnout significantly declined from the first round. Following the election, Sirleaf announced the creation of a "national peace and reconciliation initiative," led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee, to address the country's divisions and begin "a national dialogue that would bring us together." She took the presidential oath for her second presidency on 16th, January 2012.
Sirleaf crossed party lines to support George Weah in the 2017 presidential campaign.In the late evening hours of 13 January 2018, she along with some officials of the Unity Party were expelled by the National Executive Committee of the party, for failing to support Unity's presidential candidate, Joseph Boakai.
A fire broke out at the Executive Mansion on 26 July 2006, seriously damaging the structure. An independent panel formed to investigate the incident ruled out arson, attributing the fire to an electrical malfunction.Sirleaf's government called funding for the repair of the mansion a low priority in the face of more pressing needs, with Sirleaf transferring her office to the nearby Foreign Ministry building and choosing to live at her personal home in Monrovia.
On 26 July 2007, Sirleaf celebrated Liberia's 160th Independence Day under the theme "Liberia at 160: Reclaiming the future." She took an unprecedented and symbolic move by asking 25-year-old Liberian activist Kimmie Weeks to serve as National Orator for the celebrations, where Weeks called for the government to prioritize education and health care. A few days later, President Sirleaf issued an Executive Order making education free and compulsory for all elementary school aged children.
On 4th, October 2010, Sirleaf signed into law a Freedom of Information bill, the first legislation of its kind in West Africa.In recognition of this, she became the first sitting head of state to receive the Friend of the Media in Africa Award from The African Editor's Union.
On 1 April 2011, Sirleaf told reporters that she planned to charge an opposition candidate with sedition for organizing a rally protesting corruption in the government. Her press secretary later clarified that the remark had been an April Fools' prank.
From the beginning of her presidency, Sirleaf vowed to make reduction of the national debt, which stood at approximately US$4.9 billion in 2006, a top priority for her administration. The United States became the first country to grant debt relief to Liberia, waiving the full $391 million owed to it by Liberia in early 2007. In September of that year, the G-8 headed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel provided $324.5 million to paying off 60% of Liberia's debt to the International Monetary Fund, crediting their decision to the macroeconomic policies pursued by the Sirleaf administration.
In April 2009, the government successfully wrote off an additional $1.2 billion in foreign commercial debt in a deal that saw the government buy back the debt at a 97% discounted rate through financing provided by the International Development Association, Germany, Norway, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The discounted rate was the largest ever for a developing country.
The country was deemed eligible to participate in the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative in 2008. billion in writing off the Liberia's multilateral debt. On 16 September, the Paris Club agreed to cancel $1.26 billion, with independent bilateral creditors canceling an additional $107 million, essentially writing off Liberia's remaining external debt. Sirleaf vowed to prevent unsustainable borrowing in the future by restricting annual borrowing to 3% of GDP and limiting expenditure of all borrowed funds to one-off infrastructure projects.In June 2010, the country reached the completion point of the HIPC initiative, qualifying it for relief from its entire external debt. That same month, the World Bank and IMF agreed to fund $1.5
In 2006, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission began work with a mandate to "promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation" by investigating more than 20 years of civil conflict in the country. The TRC was formed through a legislation in 2005 under the Interim government headed by C. Gyude Bryant.
In their final report, issued in June 2009, the TRC included Sirleaf in a list of 50 names of people that should be "specifically barred from holding public offices; elected or appointed for a period of thirty (30) years" for "being associated with former warring factions."The proposed ban stemmed from her financial support of former President Taylor in the early years of the First Liberian Civil War.
On 26 July 2009, Sirleaf apologized to Liberia for supporting Charles Taylor, saying: "When the true nature of Mr. Taylor's intentions became known, there was no more impassioned critic or strong opponent to him in a democratic process" than she.On 28 August, the Legislature announced they must "consult our constituents for about a year" before deciding whether or not to implement the Commission's recommendations.
During an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2010, Sirleaf argued that the implementation of the TRC's recommended ban would unconstitutionally violate her right to due process.In October 2010, the chairman of Sirleaf's Unity Party, Varney Sherman, argued that implementation of the recommendation would be unconstitutional, as Article 21(a) of the Constitution prohibits ex post facto laws, and Sirleaf had broken no law by financially supporting Taylor that imposed a ban from public office as a penalty.
In January 2011, the Supreme Court ruled in Williams v. Tah, a case brought by another person recommended for being banned from public office in the TRC report, that the TRC's recommendation was an unconstitutional violation of the listed individuals' right to procedural due process, and that it would be unconstitutional for the government to implement the proposed bans.
Following a speech made by United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in December 2011 that America's foreign aid would be used to promote the protection of gay rights,the issue of LGBT rights became a significant political topic in Liberia. According to The Guardian , "Since Clinton's remarks, Liberian newspapers have published numerous articles and editorials describing homosexuality as 'desecrating', 'abusive' and an 'abomination'." Liberian law made "voluntary sodomy" punishable by up to one year in prison, although it has not been used to prosecute anyone in several years.
In February 2012, Bong County Senator Jewel Taylor proposed a bill that would carry a term of ten years in prison for homosexual activity, while a similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives.On 19 March, Sirleaf addressed the issue, saying that she would not repeal the current law but would also not sign into law either of the two proposed bills. Sirleaf added, "We like ourselves just the way we are [...] We've got certain traditional values in our society that we would like to preserve." According to Tiawan Gongloe, Liberia's former Solicitor General, "If she tried to decriminalise the [current anti-gay] law it would be political suicide."
In a letter to The Guardian, Sirleaf's press secretary challenged the portrayal of her remarks in the media saying that: "There currently exists no law referencing homosexuality in Liberia, and as such the President could not be defending a law on homosexuality. The President is on record as saying [...] that any law brought before her regarding homosexuality will be vetoed. This statement also applies to an initial attempt by two members of the Liberian legislature to introduce tougher laws targeting homosexuality." The letter added "the status quo in Liberia has been one of tolerance and no one has ever been prosecuted under that [current] law," and went on to hint at future possible liberalization stating that "the President thinks that with the unprecedented freedom of speech and expression Liberia enjoys today, our budding democracy will be strong enough to accommodate new ideas and debate both their value and Liberia's laws with openness, respect and independence."The Guardian published a correction to its story: "'Nobel peace prize winner defends law criminalising homosexuality in Liberia' was updated to restore material cut in the editing process. The restored material clarifies the stance that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is taking on laws concerning homosexuality in Liberia. That is: she refuses to dismantle the existing anti-sodomy law, while also saying she will refuse to sign two new bills that would toughen laws on homosexuality." The comments, letter, and clarification suggest that she considered the status quo for gay rights in Liberia to be one of de facto tolerance until the recent controversy, and did not support decriminalization of homosexuality, but also refused to support further criminalisation of homosexual acts which was being attempted in Liberia. She reaffirmed this view during an interview with Tony Blair.
Upon her election to office, Sirleaf made her first foreign trip as President to neighboring Ivory Coast, meeting with Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo in an attempt to repair relations between the two countries following Côte d'Ivoire's support of the Movement for Democracy in Liberia during the Second Liberian Civil War.During the 2010–2011 Ivorian crisis, Sirleaf, as chairperson of the Mano River Union, supported ECOWAS's recognition of Gbagbo's opponent, Alassane Ouattara, as the winner of the disputed presidential election, but rejected calls for a military solution to the crisis.
Sirleaf has forged close relations with the United States, Liberia's traditional ally. Following the establishment of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) by the United States military, Sirleaf offered to allow the US to headquarter the new command in Liberia, the only African leader to do so.The command was eventually headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. On 15 March 2006, President Sirleaf addressed a joint meeting of the United States Congress, asking for American support to help her country "become a brilliant beacon, an example to Africa and the world of what love of liberty can achieve."
Sirleaf has also strengthened relations with the People's Republic of China, reaffirming Liberia's commitment to the One-China policy.In return, China has contributed to Liberia's reconstruction, building several transmitters to extend the Liberia Broadcasting System nationwide and constructing a new campus for the University of Liberia.
Sirleaf is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former women presidents and prime ministers whose mission is to mobilize the highest-level women leaders globally for collective action on issues of critical importance to women and equitable development.
During the 2011 Libyan civil war, Sirleaf added her voice to the international community who asked the previous Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi to cease the use of violence and tactics of political repression.However, she criticized the international military intervention in Libya, declaring that "violence does not help the process whichever way it comes". Her government later severed diplomatic ties with Libya, stating that "The Government took the decision after a careful review of the situation in Libya and determined that the Government of Colonel Gaddafi has lost the legitimacy to govern Libya."
On 27 February 2015, President Sirleaf was expected to make a visit to U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, D.C., according to an official online statement from the Office of the White House Press Secretary. Among other issues, they planned to discuss the hope to expeditiously close the recent 2013–2015 Ebola virus epidemic, which heavily affected Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, and other areas in West Africa (and beyond in other countries due to importation of cases for treatment and some new infections), down to an ideal of zero reported cases in Liberia and nearby areas in the near future, with continuing monitoring and reporting, care, support, and fiscal and professional assistance. They also planned to discuss how to sustain and rebuild the healthcare infrastructure and the country's other difficulties in the wake of the massive outbreak's morbidity and mortality toll and impact on the area, as well as review progress that had been made and efforts to continue it.
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Following her victory in the 2005 election, Sirleaf pledged to promote national reconciliation by bringing in opposition leaders into her administration.Opposition politicians who joined her initial administration included Minister of Transport Jeremiah Sulunteh, Minister of Education Joseph Korto, and Ambassador to the United Nations Nathaniel Barnes. Sirleaf also appointed several women to high-level posts in her administration, with female ministers initially leading the Ministries of Finance, Law, Commerce and Industry, Gender and Development, and Youth and Sports. Sirleaf said that while she had planned on appointing an all-female cabinet, she had been unable to find qualified female candidates for every position.
Upon her inauguration, Sirleaf promised that she would impose a "zero tolerance" policy on corruption within the government.Despite this, critics have argued that corruption remains rampant within Sirleaf's administration; Information Minister Lawrence Bropleh was sacked in 2008 over allegations that he had stolen more than $200,000 in state funds, while Internal Affairs Minister Ambullai Johnson, Sirleaf's brother, was dismissed in 2010 after the disappearance of funds for county development. Sirleaf herself has acknowledged that corruption in government remains, noting that her zero tolerance policy was hampered by the need to pass major economic reforms through the Legislature, a goal that would have been impeded by significant anti-corruption legislation and prosecutions. However, Sirleaf has rejected claims that she has failed to fight corruption, pointing to the establishment of the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission and the restructuring of the General Auditing Commission.
Sirleaf dismissed her entire cabinet from office on 3 November 2010, promising to reassemble the cabinet in as short a time as possible.She argued that the move was taken to give her administration a "clean slate" in preparation for the final year of her term, though critics argued that the move was aimed to bolster her chances at reelection by confronting corruption in her administration. By early December 2010, Sirleaf had reconstituted her entire cabinet, replacing seven of her nineteen ministers.
|The First Sirleaf Cabinet|
|President||Ellen Johnson Sirleaf||2006–2012|
|Vice President||Joseph Boakai||2006–2012|
|Minister of Foreign Affairs|| George Wallace |
Olubanke King Akerele
|Minister of Finance|| Antoinette Sayeh |
|Minister of Justice and|
Philip A. Z. Banks
|Minister of National Defense||Brownie Samukai||2006–2012|
|Minister of Internal Affairs||Ambullai Johnson|
|Minister of Education|| Joseph Korto |
E. Othello Gongar
|Minister of Posts and|
|Jackson E. Doe|
Frederick B. Norkeh
|Minister of Public Works||Willis Knuckles|
Samuel Kofi Woods
|Minister of Agriculture||Christopher Toe|
|Minister of Health and|
|Minister of Information,|
Culture and Tourism
|Minister of Planning and|
Amara Mohamed Konneh
|Minister of Lands, Mines|
|Minister of Commerce|
| Olubanke King Akerele |
|Minister of Gender, Children|
and Social Protection
|Minister of Labor|| Samuel Kofi Woods |
|Minister of Youth|
|Jamesetta Howard Wolokollie|
|Minister of Transport||Jeremiah Sulunteh|
Jackson E. Doe
|Minister of State for|
Edward B. McClain Jr.
|The Second Sirleaf Cabinet|
|President||Ellen Johnson Sirleaf||2012–2018|
|Vice President||Joseph Boakai||2012–2018|
|Minister of Foreign Affairs||Augustine Ngafuan|
|Minister of Finance|| Amara Mohamed Konneh |
|Minister of Justice and|
Benedict F. Sannoh
|Minister of National Defense||Brownie Samukai||2012–2018|
|Minister of Internal Affairs||Blamo Nelson|
|Minister of Education||Etmonia David Tarpeh|
|Minister of Posts and|
|Frederick B. Norkeh||2012–2018|
|Minister of Public Works|| Samuel Kofi Woods |
|Minister of Agriculture||Florence Chenoweth|
|Minister of Health and|
| Walter Gwenigale |
|Minister of Information,|
Culture and Tourism
Lenn Eugene Nagbe
|Minister of Lands, Mines|
|Minister of Commerce|
|Minister of Gender, Children|
and Social Protection
|Minister of Labor||Juah Lawson|
Neto Z. Lighe
|Minister of Youth|
Lenn Eugene Nagbe
|Minister of Transport||Lenn Eugene Nagbe|
Angela Cassell Bush
|Minister of State for|
|Edward B. McClain Jr.||2012–2016|
Upon the inauguration of Sirleaf, the entire Supreme Court bench, which had been selected as part of the transitional government in 2003, stepped down, leaving Sirleaf to fill all five seats on the Court. Sirleaf nominated Johnnie Lewis, a Yale Law School graduate and former Circuit Court judge, for the office of Chief Justice.Lewis and three of Sirleaf's Associate Justice nominees, J. Emmanuel Wureh, Francis Korkpor and Gladys Johnson, were confirmed by the Senate on 2 March 2006. Sirleaf's nomination of Kabineh Ja'neh, a former leader in the rebel LURD movement, as Associate Justice received criticism from the opposition Congress for Democratic Change due to concerns over Ja'neh's human rights record during the civil war, and Ja'neh was not confirmed until 9 May.
Following the death of Justice Wureh in July 2006, Sirleaf nominated Christiana Tah, a deputy minister at the Justice Ministry, to fill his seat.However, the Senate later rejected Tah's nomination, leading Sirleaf to nominate her Minister of Youth and Sports, Jamesetta Howard Wolokollie, who was confirmed. Justice Johnson retired from the Court on 26 March 2011 after reaching the constitutionally mandated retirement age of seventy. Sirleaf nominated Phillip A. Z. Banks, her former Minister of Justice and Chairman of the Law Reform Commission, to replace Johnson in August 2011. Banks was confirmed by the Senate on 20 August 2011.
Forbes magazine named Sirleaf as the 51st most powerful woman in the world in 2006.In 2010, Newsweek listed her as one of the ten best leaders in the world, while Time counted her among the top ten female leaders. That same year, The Economist called her "arguably the best president the country has ever had." In 2010, Sirleaf released her first book, This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President.
In 1956, Sirleaf married James Sirleaf, whom she later divorced.She grew up as a Presbyterian, but later joined her husband's Methodist faith. Sirleaf is the mother of four sons, and she has ten grandchildren. She is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and an honorary member of the Links, Incorporated. She is the aunt to American actress/comic Retta (born Marietta Sirleaf) best known for her role as Donna Meagle on the NBC comedy Parks and Recreation .
Several of her children served in the Liberian government. Her son Robert Sirleaf served as head of the National Oil Company of Liberia, another son Charles Sirleaf holds a senior position at the Central Bank of Liberia and stepson Fombah Sirleaf heads the National Security Agency, a body with responsibility for internal security. Other members of the Sirleaf family are serving in other positions in government.
She has been accused of interfering with a criminal investigation involving her stepson Fombah and the agency he leads.On resigning in October 2014, her Minister of Justice Christiana Tah, accused President Sirleaf of interference with criminal investigation into the illegal seizure of money from Korean businessmen by the NSA in a warrantless hotel raid in July 2014.
In November 2017 an investigation conducted by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism cited her name in the list of politicians named in "Paradise Papers" allegations.
Politics of Liberia takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic modeled on the government of the United States, whereby the President is the head of state and head of government; unlike the United States, however, Liberia is a unitary state as opposed to a federation and has a pluriform multi-party system rather than the two-party system that characterizes US politics. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the legislature.
Prince Yormie Johnson is a Liberian politician and the current Senior Senator from Nimba County. A former rebel leader, Johnson played a prominent role in the First Liberian Civil War, in particular capturing, torturing, mutilating and executing President Samuel Doe, who had himself overthrown and murdered the previous president William R. Tolbert Jr.
Charles Gyude Bryant was a Liberian politician and businessman. He served as the Chairman of the Transitional Government of Liberia from 14 October 2003 to 16 January 2006. The installation of the transitional government was part of the peace agreement to end the country's second civil war, which had raged since the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) rebelled against President Charles Taylor in 1999. Bryant was previously a businessman and was chosen as chairman because he was seen as politically neutral and therefore acceptable to each of the warring factions, which included LURD, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), and loyalists of former President Taylor. He is a prominent member of the Episcopal Church of Liberia, and was critical of the governments of Samuel Doe (1980–90) and Taylor (1997–2003).
The 2005 Liberian general election was held on 11 October 2005, with a runoff election for the presidency held on 8 November of that year. The presidency, as well as all seats in the House of Representatives and Senate were up for election. The election marked the end of the political transition following Liberia's second civil war and had been stipulated in the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2003. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former World Bank employee and Liberian finance minister, won the presidential contest and became the first democratically elected female African head of state in January 2006.
The First Liberian Civil War was an internal conflict in Liberia from 1989 until 1997. The conflict killed about 250,000 people and eventually led to the involvement of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and of the United Nations. The peace did not last long, and in 1999 the Second Liberian Civil War broke out.
Amos Claudius Sawyer is a Liberian politician and academic who served as the President of the Interim Government of National Unity in Liberia. He was voted in by 35 leaders representing seven political parties and eleven interest groups.
Charles Walker Brumskine is a Liberian politician and attorney. He is the leader of the Liberty Party and came third in the 2005 presidential election. He challenged incumbent Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for the Presidency in 2011. He is also the senior partner of Brumskine & Associates, a leading Liberian law firm.
Joseph Korto is a Liberian politician and member of the Liberia Equal Rights Party (LERP). Joseph Korto was born in Barpa, Nimba County, Liberia. He was Minister of Education in Liberia from 2006-2010 and was replaced by E. Othello Gongar, former Minister of Education during the regime of late president Samuel Kanyon Doe. He is also the Executive Director of the Liberian Development Foundation.
Joseph Nyumah Boakai Sr. is a Liberian politician who served as Vice President of Liberia from 2006 to 2018, serving under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Previously he was Minister of Agriculture from 1983 to 1985.
Henry Boimah Fahnbulleh is a Liberian politician and diplomat. He is the Liberian Government's current National Security Advisor in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration. Immediately previous to his appointment as National Security Advisor, he served as Advisor on International Affairs in the same government. He served as Foreign Minister from 1981 to 1983 under President Samuel Doe.
Pray the Devil Back to Hell is a documentary film directed by Gini Reticker and produced by Abigail Disney. The film premiered at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, where it won the award for Best Documentary. The film had its theatrical release in New York City on November 7, 2008.
Mary Tanyonoh Bruh is the former mayor of Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia. She first served the Liberian government in March 2006 as the Special Projects Coordinator for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's executive staff. In 2007, she was promoted to direct the Passport Bureau in a successful attempt to curtail and eliminate corruption and bribery within the division. In 2008, Broh became the Deputy Director of the National Port Authority. In February 2009, she was selected to serve as Acting Mayor of Monrovia in place of the previous mayor, Ophelia Hoff Saytumah, in the President's effort to legitimize the Monrovia City Corporation's (MCC) administrative and financial management. Although Broh was seated in February 2009 by appointment, rather than by the usual democratic election process, she was not officially confirmed by the Liberian Senate.
The 2011 Liberian general election was held on 11 October 2011, with a presidential runoff election held on 8 November 2011. The presidency, as well as all seats in the House of Representatives and half of the seats in the Senate, were up for election. The election was overseen by the National Elections Commission (NEC).
Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace is a peace movement started in 2003 by women in Monrovia, Liberia, Africa, that worked to end the Second Liberian Civil War. Organized by Crystal Roh Gawding and social workers Leymah Gbowee and Comfort Freeman, the movement began despite Liberia having extremely limited civil rights. Thousands of Muslim and Christian women from various classes mobilized their efforts, staged silent nonviolence protests that included a sex strike and the threat of a curse.
The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was jointly awarded to three female political activists. Two African and one Asian female were awarded for their persistence in obtaining equal rights for women.
The Iron Ladies of Liberia (2007) is an independently produced documentary film that gives behind-the-scenes access to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's first year in government. Johnson-Sirleaf is Africa's first female president.
The 1980 Liberian coup d'état happened on April 12, 1980, when President William Tolbert was overthrown and murdered in a violent coup. The coup was staged by an indigenous Liberian faction of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) under the command of Master Sergeant Samuel Doe. Following a period of transition Doe ruled the country throughout the 1980s until his murder on 9 September 1990 during the First Liberian Civil War.
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Profiles and interviews
| President of Liberia |
|Awards and achievements|
| Laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize |
With: Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman