16 January-Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Liberia, a country on the West coast of Africa, has a population of just over 4.5 million. From about 1820 onwards the country was established by freed American slaves with the help of the American Colonization Society. Liberia was declared a republic in 1847, making it the oldest republic in Africa. Monrovia, the capital city of The Republic of Liberia, is named after US President Monroe who was a strong supporter of the colonization.

Though the colonists were a minority in Liberia, they ruled the country until 1980 when they were overthrown in a military coup. The instability which followed led to two civil wars resulting in the deaths of over a quarter of a million people and the devastation of Liberia’s economy. A peace agreement was signed in 2003. The United Nations sent a mission (which included an Irish battalion) to Liberia to provide security and monitor the peace agreement. An interim government was established. Elections were held in 2005 which led to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf being installed as President of Liberia in January 2006. Ms Sirleaf became the first elected female head of state on the continent of Africa. She was re-elected in 2011 and served as President of Liberia until 2018.

From 2006 onwards the Liberian economy began to improve but Liberia is still one of the poorest countries in the world. The deadly Ebola virus appeared in the country in March 2014 threatening economic recovery and leading to the deaths of over 3,000 people. However there was a dramatic fall in the number of deaths during the first months of 2015. Though the outbreak was declared officially at an end on May 8th 2015, new cases arose in the following months. The World health organisation declared that Liberia’s Ebola epidemic was over on January 14th 2016.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was inaugurated as President of Liberia in the year 2006 On This Day.

HE Ellen Johnson Sirleaf by Chatham House, London on 2011-06-13 17:40:50


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