President of Liberia

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President of the
Republic of Liberia
Flag of the President of Liberia.svg
Presidential Standard
President George Weah in 2019 (cropped).jpg
George Weah

since January 22, 2018
Style Mr. President
His Excellency
Residence Executive Mansion, Monrovia (currently not in use)
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
SalaryUS$90,000 annually [1]

The president of the Republic of Liberia is 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.


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.

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 one-party rule by the True Whigs. Following a coup d'état by disgruntled army officers led by Samuel Doe in 1980, one-party rule of the True Whigs ended and the presidency was vacated until the election of Doe in the 1985 general election. After his overthrow and murder 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.

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.


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 person of African descent to serve as governor of Liberia.

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.

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 [...]". [2]

Powers and duties

The presidency of Liberia is largely modeled on the presidency of the United States.

Executive functions

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.

Legislative functions

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.

Term and election

Under the original 1847 Constitution, the president was elected to a two-year term, which was increased to four years on May 7, 1907. [3] 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. [4]

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. [5] 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.


Since 2006, the Executive Mansion has been under renovations due to a fire that damaged parts of the building in July of that year. The office of the president was transferred to the nearby Foreign Ministry building as a result, where it currently hosts President George Weah. [6]

List of officeholders

Political parties
Other factions
Term of officePolitical partyElected Vice President
Took officeLeft officeTime in office
1 Joseph Jenkins Roberts.jpg Joseph Jenkins Roberts
January 3, 1848January 7, 18568 years, 4 days Independent 1847 Nathaniel Brander
1849 Anthony D. Williams
1853 Stephen Allen Benson
2 Stephen Allen Benson (cropped).jpg Stephen Allen Benson
January 7, 1856January 4, 18647 years, 362 days Independent 1855 Beverly Page Yates
1859 Daniel Bashiel Warner
3 Daniel Warner2.jpg Daniel Bashiel Warner
January 4, 1864January 6, 18684 years, 2 days Republican Party 1863 James M. Priest
4 James Payne2.jpg James Spriggs Payne
January 6, 1868January 3, 18701 year, 362 days Republican Party 1867 Joseph Gibson
5 Edward James Roye2.jpg Edward James Roye
January 3, 1870October 26, 1871
1 year, 296 days True Whig Party 1869 James Skivring Smith
6 SkivringSmith.jpg James Skivring Smith
October 26, 1871January 1, 187267 days True Whig Party Vacant
(October 26, 1871 – January 1, 1872)
7 Joseph Jenkins Roberts.jpg Joseph Jenkins Roberts
January 1, 1872January 3, 1876
4 years, 2 days Republican Party 1871 Anthony W. Gardiner
8 James Payne2.jpg James Spriggs Payne
January 3, 1876January 7, 18782 years, 4 days Republican Party 1875 Charles Harmon
9 Anthony W. Gardiner.jpg Anthony W. Gardiner
January 7, 1878January 20, 1883
5 years, 13 days True Whig Party 1877 Alfred Francis Russell
10 Alfred Russell2.jpg Alfred Francis Russell
January 20, 1883January 7, 1884352 days True Whig Party Vacant
(January 20, 1883 – January 7, 1884)
11 Hilary R. W. Johnson - Crop.png Hilary R. W. Johnson
January 7, 1884January 4, 18927 years, 362 days True Whig Party 1883 James Thompson
12 Joseph Cheeseman2.jpg Joseph James Cheeseman
January 4, 1892November 12, 1896
4 years, 313 days True Whig Party 1891 William D. Coleman
13 William Coleman2.jpg William D. Coleman
November 12, 1896December 11, 19004 years, 29 days True Whig Party Vacant
(November 12, 1896 – January 3, 1898)
1897 Joseph J. Ross
(October 24, 1899 – January 3, 1902)
14 Garretson Gibson2.jpg Garretson W. Gibson
December 11, 1900January 4, 19043 years, 24 days True Whig Party
1901 Joseph D. Summerville
15 Arthur Barclay.jpg Arthur Barclay
January 4, 1904January 1, 19127 years, 362 days True Whig Party 1903
(July 27, 1905 – January 1, 1906)
1905 J. J. Dossen
16 Daniel Edward Howard.jpg Daniel Edward Howard
January 1, 1912January 5, 19208 years, 4 days True Whig Party 1911 Samuel George Harmon
17 CBD King of Liberia.jpg Charles D. B. King
January 5, 1920December 3, 1930
10 years, 332 days True Whig Party 1919 Samuel Alfred Ross
1923 Henry Too Wesley
1927 Allen Yancy
18 Edwin Barclay portrait.jpg Edwin Barclay
December 3, 1930January 3, 194413 years, 31 days True Whig Party James Skivring Smith, Jr.
19 William Tubman 1943.jpg William Tubman
January 3, 1944July 23, 1971
27 years, 201 days True Whig Party 1943 Clarence Lorenzo Simpson
1951 William Tolbert
20 William R. Tolbert, Jr..JPG William Tolbert
July 23, 1971April 12, 1980
( Assassinated )
8 years, 264 days True Whig Party Vacant
(July 23, 1971 – April 1972)
James Edward Greene
(July 22, 1977 – October 31, 1977)
Bennie Dee Warner
Samuel Kanyon Doe - Liberian.jpg Samuel Doe
Chairman of the People's Redemption Council
April 12, 1980 – January 6, 1986
10 years, 150 days Military /
National Democratic Party
21January 6, 1986September 9, 1990
1985 Harry Moniba
No image.png Amos Sawyer
(born 1945)
President of the Interim Government of National Unity of Liberia
September 9, 1990 – March 7, 1994
3 years, 179 days Liberian People's Party
No image.png David D. Kpormakpor
Chairman of the Council of State of Liberia
March 7, 1994 – September 1, 1995
1 year, 178 days Independent
No image.png Wilton G. S. Sankawulo
Chairman of the Council of State of Liberia
September 1, 1995 – September 3, 1996
1 year, 2 days Independent
No image.png Ruth Perry
Chairman of the Council of State of Liberia
September 3, 1996 – August 2, 1997
333 days Independent
22 President Charles Taylor.png Charles Taylor
(born 1948)
August 2, 1997August 11, 2003
6 years, 9 days National Patriotic Party 1997 Enoch Dogolea
(June 24, 2000 – July 24, 2000)
Moses Blah
23 No image.png Moses Blah
August 11, 2003October 14, 2003
64 days National Patriotic Party Vacant
(August 11, 2003 – October 14, 2003)
Gyude Bryant 2004.jpg Gyude Bryant
Chairman of the Transitional Government of Liberia
October 14, 2003 – January 16, 2006
2 years, 94 days Liberian Action Party
24 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf February 2015.jpg Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
(born 1938)
January 16, 2006January 22, 201812 years, 6 days Unity Party 2005 Joseph Boakai
25 President George Weah in 2019 (cropped).jpg George Weah
(born 1966)
January 22, 2018Incumbent3 years, 269 days Congress for Democratic Change 2017 Jewel Taylor


George WeahEllen Johnson SirleafGyude BryantMoses BlahCharles TaylorRuth PerryWilton G. S. SankawuloDavid D. KpormakporAmos SawyerSamuel DoeWilliam TolbertWilliam TubmanEdwin BarclayCharles D. B. KingDaniel Edward HowardArthur BarclayGarretson W. GibsonWilliam D. ColemanJoseph James CheesemanHilary R. W. JohnsonAlfred Francis RussellAnthony W. GardinerJames Skivring SmithEdward James RoyeJames Spriggs PayneDaniel Bashiel WarnerStephen Allen BensonJoseph Jenkins RobertsPresident of Liberia

See also



  1. "Top 15 Highest Paid African Presidents 2017". December 15, 2016.
  2. "President Sirleaf Issues Executive order No. 91 – Establishing the Joint Presidential Transition Team of 2017". Executive Mansion. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  3. Starr, Frederick (1913). Liberia: Description, History, Problems. Chicago. p.  256. history Liberia monrovia.
  4. "Pres. Tolbert Says 'No' To Evil Tradition: Vows to Veto Any Amendment To Keep Him In Office". [Monrovia] Sunday Express 1976-03-21: 1/2.
  5. "The Constitution of the Republic of Liberia [ Table of Contents ]".
  6. Daygbor, Nathaniel (September 20, 2010). "Mansion's Renovation Not Priority". The New Dawn.

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