Politics of LiberiaSamuel K. Doe's government increasingly adopted an ethnic outlook as members of his Krahn ethnic group soon dominated political and military life in Liberia. This caused a heightened level of ethnic tension leading to frequent hostilities between the politically and militarily dominant Krahns and other ethnic groups in the country.
Political parties remained banned until 1984. Elections were held on October 15, 1985 in which Doe's National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) was declared winner. The elections were characterized by widespread fraud and rigging. The period after the elections saw increased human rights abuses, corruption, and ethnic tensions. The standard of living, which had been rising in the 1970s, declined drastically. On November 12, 1985, former Army Commanding General Thomas Quiwonkpa invaded Liberia by way of neighboring Sierra Leone and almost succeeded in toppling the government of Samuel Doe. Members of the Krahn-dominated Armed Forces of Liberia repelled Quiwonkpa's attack and executed him in Monrovia.
On December 24, 1989, a small band of rebels led by Doe's former procurement chief, Charles Taylor invaded Liberia from Côte d'Ivoire. Taylor and his National Patriotic Front rebels rapidly gained the support of Liberians because of the repressive nature of Samuel Doe and his government. Barely 6 months after the rebels first attacked, they had reached the outskirts of Monrovia.
The Liberian civil war, which was one of Africa's bloodiest, claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Liberians and further displaced a million others into refugee camps in neighboring countries.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened and succeeded in preventing Charles Taylor from capturing Monrovia. Prince Johnson who had been a member of Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) but broke away because of policy differences, formed the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL). Johnson's forces captured and killed Doe on September 9, 1990.
An Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU) was formed in Gambia under the auspices of ECOWAS in October 1990 and Dr. Amos C. Sawyer became President. Taylor refused to work with the interim government and continued war.
By 1992, several warring factions had emerged in the Liberian civil war, all of which were absorbed in the new transitional government. After several peace accords and declining military power, Taylor finally agreed to the formation of a five-man transitional government.
After considerable progress in negotiations conducted by the United States, United Nations, Organization of African Unity, and the Economic Community of West African States, disarmament and demobilization of warring factions were hastily carried out and special elections were held on July 19, 1997 with Charles Taylor and his National Patriotic Party emerging victorious. Taylor won the election by a large majority, primarily because Liberians feared a return to war had Taylor lost.
Liberia is still trying to recover from the ravages of war. Five years after the war, pipe- borne water and electricity are still unavailable and schools, hospitals, roads ,and infrastructure remain derelict.
Liberia has a bicameral legislature which consists of 64 representatives and 26 senators. The legislature, which was set up on a proportional representation basis after the 1997 special election, is dominated by President Taylor's National Patriotic Party. The executive branch heavily influences the legislature.
The judicial system is functional but extensively manipulated by the executive branch. There is a Supreme Court, criminal courts, and appeals and magistrate courts in the counties. There also are traditional courts and lay courts in the counties. Trial by ordeal is practiced in various parts of Liberia.
The basic unit of local government is the town chief. There are clan chiefs, paramount chiefs, and district commissioners. Mayors are elected in principal cities in Liberia. The counties are governed by superintendents appointed by the President. There are 15 counties in Liberia.
conventional long form: Republic of Liberia
conventional short form: Liberia
Data code: LI
Government type: republic
Liberia is divided into 13 counties:
Bomi, Bong, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Lofa, Margibi, Maryland, Montserrado, Nimba, River Cess, Sinoe.
National holiday: Independence Day, 26 July (1847)
Constitution: 6 January 1986
Legal system: dual system of statutory law based on Anglo-American common law for the modern sector and customary law based on unwritten tribal practices for indigenous sector
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
chief of state: President Charles Ghankay TAYLOR (since 2 August 1997); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Charles Ghankay TAYLOR (since 2 August 1997); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term (renewable); election last held 19 July 1997 (next to be held NA July 2003)
election results: Charles Ghankay TAYLOR elected president; percent of vote - Charles Ghankay TAYLOR (NPP) 75.3%, Ellen Johnson SIRLEAF (UP) 9.6%, Alhaji KROMAH (ALCOP) 4%, other 11.1%
bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate (26 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve nine-year terms) and the House of Representatives (64 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 19 July 1997 (next to be held in NA 2006); House of Representatives - last held 19 July 1997 (next to be held in NA 2003)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NPP 21, UP 3, ALCOP 2; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NPP 49, UP 7, ALCOP 3, Alliance of Political Parties 2, UPP 2, LPP 1; note - the Alliance of Political Parties was a coalition of the LAP and the Liberia Unification Party or LUP
Judicial branch: Supreme Court
Political parties and leaders: All Liberia Coalition Party or ALCOP [Lusinee KAMARA]; Liberian Action Party or LAP [Cletus WOTORSON]; Liberian National Union or LINU [Henry MONIBA, chairman]; Liberian People's Party or LPP [Togba-Nah TIPOTEH, chairman]; National Democratic Party of Liberia or NDPL [Isaac DAKINAH]; National Patriotic Party or NPP [Charles Ghankay TAYLOR] - governing party; People's Progressive Party or PPP [Chea CHEAPOO, chairman]; Reformation Alliance Party or RAP [Henry Boimah FAHNBULLEH, chairman]; True Whig Party or TWP [Rudolph SHERMAN, chairman]; United People's Party or UPP [Gabriel Baccus MATTHEWS, chairman]; Unity Party or UP [Charles Clarke]
International organization participation: ACP, AfDB, CCC, ECA, ECOWAS, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, NAM, OAU, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador-designate William BULL
chancery: 5303 Colorado Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20011
telephone:  (202) 723-0437
FAX:  (202) 723-0436
consulate(s) general: New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Bismarck MYRICK
embassy: 111 United Nations Drive, Mamba Point, Monrovia
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone:  226-370 through 226-382
FAX:  226-148, 226-147
Flag description: 11 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; there is a white five-pointed star on a blue square in the upper hoist-side corner; the design was based on the flag of the United States
- See also : Liberia