Officially: Republic of Liberia.
Seat of government: Monrovia.
Status: Democratic.
Structure: The president is elected directly. The legislature consists of a House of Representatives, elected through geographical constituencies, and a Senate, with two members elected per county.
Governing party: Unity Party.
Head of government: Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Unity, president.
Other legislative parties: Congress for Democratic Change; Liberty Party; National Union for Democratic Progress; National Democratic Coalition; National Patriotic Party; Alliance for Peace and Democracy; Movement for Progressive Change; Liberia Transformation Party; Liberia Destiny Party; National Reformation Party.
Assessment: Samuel Doe (1980-90), who took power in a coup and governed autocratically with favoritism towards his fellow Krahn, was the proximate cause of a long civil war (1989-2003). Numerous factions engaged in fighting, first against Doe and then against autocrat Charles Taylor, who overthrew and executed Doe. Taylor supported the broader war in the region and controlled at least some territory throughout the war in Liberia, in addition to serving as the recognized president (1997-2003). The most successful armed faction fighting against Taylor was the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, led by Sekou Conneh, and supported by Guinée-Conakry. A newer insurgency, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia, which controlled territory on the coast, largely comprised Krahn and supporters of Doe, and was supported by the government of Côte d’Ivoire South. After Taylor was forced out, an interim administration, agreed by the major factions, was led by Gyude Bryant of the Liberian Action Party as chair and Wesley Johnson of the United People’s Party as vice chair, with George Dweh, a founder of LURD, as interim assembly speaker. A UN-mandated peacekeeping force from ECOWAS disarmed the factions and prepared elections. The 2005 election to replace Bryant required a runoff between novice Weah and veteran Johnson-Sirleaf; Johnson-Sirleaf won the runoff, but Weah initially disputed this. A legislature was also chosen, in which Weah’s CDC had a plurality. Taylor’s continued involvement in politics violated the terms of his asylum in Nigeria; his immunity from prosecution over the war in Sierra Leone ended, with Johnson-Sirleaf calling for his transfer to the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which took place in 2006. In 2011, Johnson-Sirleaf was reelected, and her Unity Party secured a plurality in both houses of the legislature.
FH: 3-4, partly free (democratic). Econ: 4.95 (101), hybrid.
Updated: 2014 December 3.