|President of the|
Republic of Liberia
|Style|| Mr. President |
|Residence||Executive Mansion, Monrovia|
|Term length||Six years, renewable once|
|Inaugural holder|| Joseph Jenkins Roberts |
January 3, 1848
|Formation|| 1847 Constitution of Liberia |
July 26, 1847
|Deputy||Vice President of Liberia|
|This article is part of a series on the|
politics and government of
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.
A head of state is the public persona who officially represents the national unity and legitimacy of a sovereign state. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead or concurrently the head of government. In a parliamentary system the head of state is the de jure leader of the nation, and there is a separate de facto leader, often with the title of prime minister. In contrast, a semi-presidential system has both heads of state and government as the leaders de facto of the nation.
Head of government is a generic term used for either the highest or second highest official in the executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, who often presides over a cabinet, a group of ministers or secretaries who lead executive departments. The term "head of government" is often differentiated from the term "head of state", as they may be separate positions, individuals, or roles depending on the country.
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 4,700,000 people. 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.
Prior to the independence of Liberia in 1847, executive power in the Commonwealth of Liberia was held by the Governor of Liberia, who was appointed by the American Colonization Society. The 1847 Constitution transferred the executive powers of the governorship to the presidency, which was largely modeled on the presidency of the United States.
The Society for the Colonization of Free People of Color of America, commonly known as the American Colonization Society (ACS), was a group established in 1816 by Robert Finley of New Jersey which supported the migration of free African Americans to the continent of Africa. The society in 1821–1822 helped to found a colony on the Pepper Coast of West Africa, as a place for free-born or manumitted American blacks. The ACS met with immediate and continuing objections from such African-Americans as James Forten and David Walker, who wished to remain in the land of their birth, saw colonization as a racist strategy for protecting slavery and purging the U.S. of its black citizens, and preferred to fight for equal rights at home. Colonizers were also met with resistance and attacks from those already living in and around the areas being colonized. There was some religious support and missionary efforts were part of the colonization. Disease was a major problem, with Liberian immigrants suffering the highest mortality rates in accurately recorded human history. Of the 4,571 emigrants who arrived in Liberia from 1820 to 1843, only 1,819 survived until 1843.
The Liberian Constitution of 1847 was the first constitution of Liberia. Largely modeled on the Constitution of the United States, it remained in effect from its adoption on 26 July 1847 until its suspension by the People's Redemption Council on 12 April 1980.
President of the United States (POTUS) is the title for the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.
Between 1847 and 1980, the presidency was exclusively held by Americo-Liberians, the original American settlers of Liberia and their descendants. The original two-party system, with the Republican Party and the True Whig Party, ended in 1878, when the election of Anthony W. Gardiner marked the beginning of 102 years of single-party rule by the True Whigs. Following a coup d'état by disgruntled army officers led by Samuel Doe in 1980, the presidency was vacated until the election of Doe in the 1985 general election. After the overthrow and murder of Doe in 1990, the presidency was again vacated for seven years during the First Liberian Civil War and again for two years following the conclusion of the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003.
Americo-Liberians, or Congo people or Congau people in Liberian English, are a Liberian ethnic group of African American, Afro-Caribbean and Liberated African descent. The sister ethnic group of Americo-Liberians are the Sierra Leone Creole people, who shared similar ancestry and related culture. Americo-Liberians trace their ancestry to free-born and formerly enslaved African Americans who emigrated in the 19th century to become the founders of the state of Liberia. They identified there as Americo-Liberians. Although the terms "Americo-Liberian" and "Congo" had distinct definitions in the nineteenth century, they are currently interchangeable and refer to an ethnic group composed of the descendants of the various free and ex-slave African American, Caribbean, Recaptive, and Sierra Leone Creoles who settled in Liberia from 1822.
A two-party system is a party system where two major political parties dominate the government. One of the two parties typically holds a majority in the legislature and is usually referred to as the majority or governing party while the other is the minority or opposition party. Around the world, the term has different senses. For example, in the United States, Jamaica, and Malta, the sense of two-party system describes an arrangement in which all or nearly all elected officials belong to one of the only two major parties, and third parties rarely win any seats in the legislature. In such arrangements, two-party systems are thought to result from various factors like winner-takes-all election rules. In such systems, while chances for third-party candidates winning election to major national office are remote, it is possible for groups within the larger parties, or in opposition to one or both of them, to exert influence on the two major parties. In contrast, in the United Kingdom and Australia and in other parliamentary systems and elsewhere, the term two-party system is sometimes used to indicate an arrangement in which two major parties dominate elections but in which there are viable third parties which do win seats in the legislature, and in which the two major parties exert proportionately greater influence than their percentage of votes would suggest.
The Republican Party, early named Liberian Party, was a political party founded soon after the founding of Liberia in 1848. It was known to be made up primarily of Americo-Liberians who had mixed African and European ancestry. Its main opponent was the True Whig Party.
Under the 1986 Constitution, the president is directly elected by eligible voters to a six-year term, which may be renewed once. Overall, 25 individuals have served as president, including Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female head of state in Africa. On January 22, 2018, George Weah was sworn in as the twenty-fifth and current president of Liberia.
The Constitution of Liberia is the supreme law of the Republic of Liberia. The current constitution, which came into force on 6 January 1986, replaced the Liberian Constitution of 1847, which had been in force since the independence of Liberia. Much like the 1847 Constitution, the Constitution creates a system of government heavily modeled on the Federal Government of the United States.
Direct election is a system of choosing political officeholders in which the voters directly cast ballots for the persons, or political party that they desire to see elected. The method by which the winner or winners of a direct election are chosen depends upon the electoral system used. The most commonly used systems are the plurality system and the two-round system for single-winner elections, such as a presidential election, and party-list proportional representation for the election of a legislature.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf 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.
Following the establishment of the Commonwealth of Liberia in 1838, executive power was vested in the Governor of Liberia, who was appointed and served at the pleasure of the American Colonization Society. The first governor, Thomas Buchanan, served from 1838 until his death in 1841. He was succeeded by Joseph Jenkins Roberts, the first black governor of Liberia.
Thomas Buchanan was the first governor of Liberia and a cousin of James Buchanan, President of the United States. He came to Liberia as the envoy of the American Colonization Society in the 1830s. He worked first as an administrator in Grand Bassa, which later had its capital named Buchanan in his honor. In 1839, Buchanan was sent to Monrovia, where he became the first governor of Liberia after the death of Jehudi Ashmun. He served from April 1, 1839 until his death on September 3, 1841.
Joseph Jenkins Roberts was the first (1848–1856) and seventh (1872–1876) President of Liberia. Born free in Norfolk, Virginia, US, Roberts emigrated to Liberia in 1829 as a young man. He opened a trading store in Monrovia, and later engaged in politics. When Liberia became independent on July 26, 1847, Roberts was elected the first black American president for the Republic of Liberia, serving until 1856. In 1872 he was elected again to serve as Liberia's seventh president.
Upon independence in 1847, Roberts was elected as the first president of Liberia. The 1847 Constitution denied suffrage to the indigenous population by requiring voters to own real estate. As a result, the presidency was exclusively held by Americo-Liberians until 1980, when a military coup led by Samuel Doe, an ethnic Krahn, overthrew and murdered President William Tolbert
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise is the right to vote in public, political elections. In some languages, and occasionally in English, the right to vote is called active suffrage, as distinct from passive suffrage, which is the right to stand for election. The combination of active and passive suffrage is sometimes called full suffrage.
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 under the command of Master Sergeant Samuel Doe. Following a period of transition Doe would go on to rule the country throughout the 1980s until his murder on 9 September 1990 during the First Liberian Civil War.
Samuel Kanyon Doe was a Liberian politician who served as the Liberian leader from 1980 to 1990, first as a military leader and later as a politician. Then Master Sergeant Doe served as chairman of the People's Redemption Council and de facto head of state after staging a violent coup d'etat in 1980; he killed President William R. Tolbert, Jr., and executed much of the True Whig Party leadership. Samuel Doe in turn was murdered by his conqueror, Prince Johnson, one time ally of Charles Taylor, in an internationally televised display.
The presidency was vacant from 1980 to 1986, with executive power held by Doe as the head of the People's Redemption Council. Doe was later elected president in the 1985 general election, making him the first president outside of the Americo-Liberian elite. Doe was later overthrown and murdered in 1990 following the commencement First Liberian Civil War, during which the presidency remained vacant.
Following the 1997 general election, Charles Taylor held the presidency until his resignation on August 11, 2003 as part of a peace deal to end the Second Liberian Civil War. His successor, Moses Blah, ceded executive power on October 13 of that year to Gyude Bryant, the Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia. The presidency was resumed on January 16, 2006 following the 2005 election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the first female president.
George Weah was elected in 2017 as the 23rd President of Liberia. Incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed Executive Order No. 91, thus establishing a Joint Presidential Transition Team, due to the fact that Liberia had "not experienced the transfer of power from one democratically elected President to another democratically elected President for over 70 years [...]".
The presidency of Liberia is largely modeled on the presidency of the United States.
The 1986 Constitution gives the president the power to appoint all cabinet ministers, judges, ambassadors, sheriffs, county officials and military officers with the advice and consent of the Senate. Additionally, the president has the power to dismiss all appointees from office at his or her discretion. The president may also grant pardons or revoke sentences and fines. The president conducts all matters of foreign policy, though any treaties or international agreements must be ratified by both houses of the Legislature. Furthermore, the president serves as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia.
The Constitution also grants the president the power to declare a state of emergency during times of war or civil unrest and suspend civil liberties during the emergency as necessary, with the exception of habeas corpus. Within seven days of the declaration, the president must state to the Legislature the reasons for the declaration, which both houses must then approve by a two-thirds majority. Otherwise, the president must repeal the state of emergency.
The president must sign all legislation passed by the House of Representatives and Senate. The president may choose to veto any legislation, which may be overturned by a two-thirds majority in both houses. Additionally, the president may exercise a pocket veto by refusing to sign legislation when the end of the twenty-day deadline for signing the bill falls during a recess of the legislature. The president may extend a legislative session past its adjournment date or call a special extraordinary session when he or she deems it necessary in the national interest. The president must also give an annual report to the Legislature on the state of the country.
To be eligible for office under the current Constitution, a presidential candidate must:
Additionally, the president may not be from the same county as the Vice President of Liberia.
Under the original 1847 Constitution, the president was elected to a two-year term, which was increased to four years on May 7, 1907.Under this amendment, a new president would serve for eight years and could be re-elected to unlimited four-year terms. During the presidency of William Tolbert, the Constitution was amended to restrict the president to a single eight-year term; by 1976, voices in the Legislature were being raised in favor of returning to the previous system, but Tolbert proclaimed his support for the existing system and vowed to veto any constitutional amendments to remove term limits.
Currently, the president is elected by popular vote to a six-year term and is limited to two terms. Under the 1986 Constitution, presidential elections utilize a two-round system, wherein a second round of voting is held between the two candidates with the highest number of votes if no single candidate obtains a majority in the first round. Each term begins and ends at noon on the third working Monday in January of the year immediately following the elections.At the time of their inauguration, each president is required under the Constitution to take a presidential oath promising to preserve and defend the Constitution and faithfully execute the law. The oath is administered by the Chief Justice of Liberia in front of a joint session of the Legislature.
|Term of Office||Party||Term|
|1|| Joseph Jenkins Roberts |
|January 3, 1848||January 7, 1856||Independent||1.|
|Anthony D. Williams|
|Stephen Allen Benson|
|2|| Stephen Allen Benson |
|January 7, 1856||January 4, 1864||Independent||5.|
|Beverly Page Yates|
|Daniel Bashiel Warner|
|3|| Daniel Bashiel Warner |
|January 4, 1864||January 6, 1868||Republican Party||9.|
|James M. Priest|
|4|| James Spriggs Payne |
|January 6, 1868||January 3, 1870||Republican Party||11.|
|5|| Edward James Roye |
|January 3, 1870||October 26, 1871|
|True Whig Party||12.|
|James Skivring Smith|
|6|| James Skivring Smith |
|October 26, 1871||January 1, 1872||True Whig Party||Vacant|
(October 26, 1871 – January 1, 1872)
|7|| Joseph Jenkins Roberts |
|January 1, 1872||January 3, 1876|
|Anthony W. Gardiner|
|8|| James Spriggs Payne |
|January 3, 1876||January 7, 1878||Republican Party||15.|
|9|| Anthony W. Gardiner |
|January 7, 1878||January 20, 1883|
|True Whig Party||16.|
|Alfred Francis Russell|
|10|| Alfred Francis Russell |
|January 20, 1883||January 7, 1884||True Whig Party||Vacant|
(January 20, 1883 – January 7, 1884)
|11|| Hilary R. W. Johnson |
|January 7, 1884||January 4, 1892||True Whig Party||19.|
|12|| Joseph James Cheeseman |
|January 4, 1892||November 12, 1896|
|True Whig Party||23.|
|William D. Coleman|
|13|| William D. Coleman |
|November 12, 1896||December 11, 1900||True Whig Party||Vacant|
(November 12, 1896 – January 3, 1898)
|Joseph J. Ross|
(October 24, 1899 – January 3, 1902)
|14|| Garretson W. Gibson |
|December 11, 1900||January 4, 1904||True Whig Party|
|Joseph D. Summerville|
|15|| Arthur Barclay |
|January 4, 1904||January 1, 1912||True Whig Party||29.|
(July 27, 1905 – January 1, 1906)
|J. J. Dossen|
|16|| Daniel Edward Howard |
|January 1, 1912||January 5, 1920||True Whig Party||32.|
|Samuel George Harmon|
|17|| Charles D. B. King |
|January 5, 1920||December 3, 1930|
|True Whig Party||34.|
|Samuel Alfred Ross|
|Henry Too Wesley|
|18|| Edwin Barclay |
|December 3, 1930||January 3, 1944||True Whig Party||James Skivring Smith, Jr.|
|19|| William Tubman |
|January 3, 1944||July 23, 1971|
|True Whig Party||39.|
|Clarence Lorenzo Simpson|
|20|| William Tolbert |
|July 23, 1971||April 12, 1980|
( Assassinated )
|True Whig Party||Vacant|
(July 23, 1971 – April 1972)
|James Edward Greene|
(July 22, 1977 – October 31, 1977)
|Bennie Dee Warner|
|Vacant||April 12, 1980||January 6, 1986|
|21|| Samuel Doe |
|January 6, 1986||September 9, 1990|
|National Democratic Party||47.|
|Vacant||September 9, 1990||August 2, 1997|
|22|| Charles Taylor |
|August 2, 1997||August 11, 2003|
|National Patriotic Party||48.|
(June 24, 2000 – July 24, 2000)
|23|| Moses Blah |
|August 11, 2003||October 14, 2003|
|National Patriotic Party||Vacant|
(August 11, 2003 – October 14, 2003)
|Vacant||October 14, 2003||January 16, 2006|
|24|| Ellen Johnson Sirleaf |
|January 16, 2006||January 22, 2018||Unity Party||49.|
|25|| George Weah |
|January 22, 2018||Incumbent||Congress for Democratic Change||51.|
|No.||Head of State|
|Position||Term of Office||Party|
|—|| Samuel Doe |
|Chairman of the People's Redemption Council||April 12, 1980||January 6, 1986|| Military /|
National Democratic Party
|—|| Amos Sawyer |
|President of the Interim Government of National Unity||November 22, 1990||March 7, 1994||Liberian People's Party|
|1|| David D. Kpormakpor |
|Chairman of the Council of State||March 7, 1994||September 1, 1995||Independent|
|2|| Wilton G. S. Sankawulo |
|Chairman of the Council of State||September 1, 1995||September 3, 1996||Independent|
|3|| Ruth Perry |
|Chairwoman of the Council of State||September 3, 1996||August 2, 1997||Independent|
|—|| Gyude Bryant |
|Chairman of the National Transitional Government||October 14, 2003||January 16, 2006||Liberian Action Party|
Liberia is a country in West Africa which was founded, established, colonized, and controlled by citizens of the United States and ex-Caribbean slaves as a colony for former African American slaves and their free black descendants. It is one of only two sovereign countries in the world that were started by citizens and ex-Caribbean slaves of a political power as a colony for former slaves of the same political power, the other being Sierra Leone, established by Great Britain. Settlement of former slaves was organised by the American Colonization Society (ACS). The mortality rate of these settlers was the highest in accurately recorded human history. Of the 4,571 emigrants who arrived in Liberia from 1820 to 1843, only 1,819 survived until 1843.
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.
A presidential system is a democratic and republican system of government where a head of government leads an executive branch that is separate from the legislative branch. This head of government is in most cases also the head of state, which is called president.
William Richard Tolbert Jr. was the 20th President of Liberia from 1971 until 1980, when he was killed in a coup d'état led by Samuel Doe.
The True Whig Party (TWP), also known as the Liberian Whig Party (LWP), is the oldest political party in Liberia. Founded in 1869 by primarily Americo-Liberians, the party dominated Liberian politics from 1878 until 1980. The nation was virtually a one-party state, although opposition parties were never outlawed. Initially, its ideology was strongly influenced by that of the United States Whig Party.
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 Unity Party (UP) is a political party in Liberia that was started in 1984 by Edward B. Kesselly, also its first standard bearer. Officially founded at Buchanan in Grand Bassa County, the party was established on 27 July 1985. The Unity Party participated in the first elections after the 1980 coup, running against President Samuel Doe in October 1985. The party has remained active in Liberian politics since and was, until 2017, the ruling party.
The 1997 Liberian general election was held on 19 July 1997 as part of the 1996 peace agreement ending the First Liberian Civil War. The presidency, as well as all seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate were up for election. Voter turnout was around 89%. Former rebel leader Charles Taylor and his National Patriotic Party (NPP) won the election by a substantial margin; Taylor won 75.3% of the vote in the presidential election, whilst the NPP won the same number of votes in the parliamentary election. Taylor was inaugurated as president on 2 August 1997.
General elections were held in Liberia on 15 October 1985. These were the first elections since the 12 April 1980 military coup that brought Samuel Doe to power. During 1984, a new draft Constitutional referendum was approved, which allowed a 58 member civilian and military combined Interim National Assembly, headed by President Samuel Doe. The ban on political parties were lifted and four parties, namely, the President's National Democratic Party of Liberia, Liberian Action Party, Unity Party and Liberia Unification Party were in fray.
Sekou Damate Conneh, Jr. is a Liberian politician and former rebel leader.
Gabriel Bacchus Matthews was a Liberian politician. He is considered one of the leaders in developing a multi-party system in Liberia, long dominated by the True Whig Party. He founded the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL) in 1975, the first active opposition party since the demise of the Republican Party.
The Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislative branch of Liberia, and together with the House of Representatives comprises the Legislature of Liberia. Each of the fifteen counties are equally represented by two senators, elected to serve staggered nine-year terms. The Senate meets at the Capitol Building in Monrovia.
The Vice President of the Republic of Liberia is the second-highest executive official in Liberia, and one of only two elected executive offices along with the President. The Vice President is elected on the same ticket with the president to a six-year term. In the event of the death, resignation or removal of the president, the Vice President ascends to the presidency, which he or she holds for the remainder of their predecessor's term. The Vice President also serves as the President of the Senate and may cast a vote in the event of a tie. The current Vice President is Jewel Taylor, serving under President George Weah. She began her term on January 22, 2018.
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).
General elections were held in Liberia on 1 May 1951, the first to be held under universal suffrage, as previously only male descendants of Americo-Liberians had been allowed to vote. This was the first elections in Liberia where women and the local Liberians owning property were allowed to vote based on a Constitutional Referendum in 1945–46. In the presidential election, William Tubman of the True Whig Party was the only candidate, and was re-elected unopposed.
General elections were held in Liberia on 7 October 1975, alongside a simultaneous referendum on presidential term limits. In the presidential election, incumbent William Tolbert of the True Whig Party was the only candidate, and was re-elected unopposed. In the legislative elections True Whig Party candidates won all 71 seats in the House of Representatives and all 18 seats in the Senate unopposed. Voter turnout was around 80%.