Liberia

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Overview

Liberia was established by free African Americans and former slaves who came from the United States in 1820. Liberia means “land of the free,” and over several decades, thousands of freed slaves joined settlements in Monrovia. The Americo-Liberians came into conflict with indigenous Africans, who enjoyed fewer rights. Joseph Jenkins Roberts, the country’s first president, modeled Liberia’s government after that of the United States, where he was born and raised. Liberia’s government has traditionally been troubled, however, first under Liberian Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe, who seized power in 1980, and then under Charles Taylor, who took over the country in a violent 1989 coup. Liberia was engulfed in civil war for several years until Taylor solidified his power and took office. But Liberia soon descended into chaos, with unemployment and illiteracy, as well as infrastructure problems plaguing the country. In 2003, the country signed a peace treaty and Taylor stepped down and left for exile in Nigeria. In 2005, Liberia elected its first female leader, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who has pledged greater stability and reform, as well as repaired relations with the US and other allies.

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: In southwestern West Africa, Liberia is bordered on the north by Guinea, on the east by the Ivory Coast, on the south by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the west by Sierra Leone. The coastal sands give way to lush jungle growth invigorated by an eight-month rainy season.

 
Population: 3.3 million
 
Religions: Ethnoreligious 42.3%, Christian 39.8%, Muslim 16.0%, Non-religious 1.5%, Baha’i 0.3%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Indigenous African (Kpelle, Bassa, Gio, Kru, Loma, Mandingo...) 95%, Americo-Liberians (descendents of immigrants from the US who had been slaves) 2.5%, Congo People (descendents of immigrants from the Caribbean who had been slaves) 2.5%.
 
Languages: Liberian Kpelle 14.3%, Grebo dialect cluster (e.g. Northern, Barclayville, Gboloo, Central) 11.4%, Bassa 10.2%, Mann 5.4%, Klao 5.4%, Dan 5.1%, Loma 4.1%, Southern Kisi 3.4%, Bandi 3.0%, Gola 2.9%, English (official). There are 30 living languages in Liberia.
 
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History

In 1461, Portuguese explorers established contact with Liberia and named the area Grain Coast. This was because Liberia had an abundance of Malegueta pepper seeds, which the Portuguese called “grains of paradise.”

 
In 1663, the British established trading posts on the Grain Coast, but these were quickly destroyed by the Dutch in 1664. Though many recognized the value of Liberian natural resources, there were no further reports of European settlements along the Grain Coast until the 1800s. 
 
Liberia, which means “land of the free,” was established by former slaves who came from the United States in 1820. The original group of 86 immigrants came to be called Americo-Liberians. They established a settlement at Christopolis, which was later named Monrovia, after US president James Monroe, on February 6, 1820.
 
During the next few decades, thousands of free slaves came to Liberia. More settlements were established, and on July 26, 1847, the independent Republic of Liberia was established. The American Colonization Society (ACS), an organization of white clergymen, abolitionists, and slave owners, helped free slaves to resettle in Liberia, and between 1821 and 1867, the ACS sent some 10,000 African-Americans and Africans taken from interdicted slave ships back to Africa. The ACS governed the Commonwealth of Liberia until its independence in 1847.
 
Many of the new settlers found opposition from indigenous Africans, some of it violent. Indigenous Africans were excluded from citizenship until 1904. At the same time, British and French colonialists encroached upon Liberia, taking over much of its territory.
 
Liberia was a one-party state, ruled by the True Whig Party (TWP). Joseph Jenkins Roberts, who was born and raised in America, was Liberia’s first President. He shaped Liberia’s government after that of the United States, with the Americo-Liberians enjoying elite status and the indigenous population suffering with few rights or privileges.
 
The True Whig Party dominated all sectors of Liberia from independence in 1847 until April 12, 1980, when Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe (from the Krahn ethnic group) seized power in a coup d’etat. Doe’s forces executed President William R. Tolbert and several officials of his government, mostly of Americo-Liberian descent. One hundred and thirty-three years of Americo-Liberian political domination ended with the formation of the People’s Redemption Council (PRC).
 
Doe’s government began to promote members of his own Krahn ethnic group, and soon they dominated the political and military aspects of Liberia. Racial tensions escalated, causing skirmishes across the country.
 
The October 1985 elections were marred by widespread fraud, and Doe managed to solidify his control of the government. Human right abuses, corruption and ethnic tensions all escalated in the years following the election, and the country’s standard of living fell.
 
On November 12, 1985, former Army Commanding Gen. Thomas Quiwonkpa almost succeeded in toppling Doe’s government, but the Armed Forces of Liberia repelled Quiwonkpa’s attack, and executed him in Monrovia. Doe also carried out reprisals against Manu and Gio people who had supported Quiwonkpa.
 
On December 24, 1989, a small band of rebels led by Doe’s former procurement chief, Charles Taylor, invaded Liberia from Cote d’Ivoire. Taylor, along with his National Patriotic Front rebels, gained the support of many Liberians and reached the outskirts of Monrovia within six months. The years 1989 to 1994 saw one of Africa’s bloodiest civil wars ensue across Liberia, as Taylor’s forces struggled to take the capital. More than 10,000 Liberians were killed, and a millions of others were displaced to refugee camps in neighboring countries.
 
In 1990, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened and prevented Charles Taylor from capturing Monrovia. Prince Johnson, formerly a member of Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), formed the breakaway Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL).
 
On September 9, 1990, Johnson’s forces captured and killed Doe, then took refuge in Sierra Leone and other neighboring countries. Former AFL soldiers founded the new insurgent United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) to fight back against Taylor’s NPFL.
 
An Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU) was formed in Gambia under the auspices of ECOWAS in October 1990, headed by Dr. Amos C. Sawyer. Taylor (along with other Liberian factions) refused to work with the interim government and continued fighting. After more than a dozen peace accords and declining military power, Taylor finally agreed to the formation of a five-man transitional government.
 
Special elections held on July 19, 997 resulted in Charles Taylor and his National Patriotic Party emerging victorious. Many Liberians claimed that they voted for Taylor only to avoid a return to war should he lose.
 
Charles Taylor ruled Liberia for the next six years, doing little to improve the lives of Liberians. Unemployment and illiteracy stood above 75%, and little investment was made in the country’s infrastructure. Liberia today is still recovering from the ravages of war; water and electricity are generally unavailable to most of the population, especially outside Monrovia, and schools, hospitals, roads, and infrastructure remain derelict.
 
Taylor continued to support the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leona, which led to armed rebellion among Taylor’s former adversaries. By 2003, armed groups called “Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy” (LURD) and “Movement for Democracy in Liberia” (MODEL), largely representing elements of the former ULIMO-K and ULIMO-J factions that fought Taylor during Liberia’s previous civil war, challenged Taylor and his increasingly fragmented supporters on the outskirts of Monrovia.
 
On June 4, 2003, ECOWAS held peace talks in Ghana. On the same day, the Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone issued a press statement announcing the opening of a sealed March 7, 2003 indictment of Liberian President Charles Taylor for “bearing the greatest responsibility” for atrocities in Sierra Leone since November 1996. In July 2003, the government of Liberia, LURD, and MODEL signed a cease-fire that all sides failed to respect. Fighting reached downtown Monrovia in July and August.
 
On August 11, 2003, under intense US and international pressure, President Taylor resigned office and departed into exile in Nigeria. ECOWAS deployed a 3,600 member peacekeeping force in Liberia, and leaders from the Liberian government, rebels, political parties and the local community signed a comprehensive peace agreement that laid the framework for constructing a two-year National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), headed by businessman Gyude Bryant. In October 2003, the UN took over security in Liberia, subsuming ECOMIL into the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
 
The October 11, 2005 presidential and legislative elections and the subsequent November 8, 2005 presidential run-off were the most free, fair, and peaceful elections in Liberia’s history. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf defeated international soccer star George Weah 59.4% to 40.6% to become Africa’s first democratically elected female president. Sirleaf was inaugurated in January 2006 and formed a government of technocrats from the country’s diverse ethnic groups, including members of the Liberian diaspora who had returned to the country to rebuild government institutions.
 
Since the 2005 elections, Liberia’s political situation has remained stable. President Sirleaf has taken a public stance against corruption and has dismissed several government officials. She enjoys good relations with international organizations and donor governments, and her government has enacted several key reforms.
 
Liberia’s security reforms have led to the disarmament of more than 100,000 ex-combatants, the wholesale US-led reconstruction of the Armed Forces of Liberia, and a UN-led effort to overhaul the Liberian National Police. The government of Liberia won substantial donor support for its new Poverty Reduction Strategy at the June 2008 Liberia Poverty Reduction Forum in Berlin, Germany.
 
History of Liberia (Wikipedia)
Liberia – Country Profile (Nations Online)
Culture of Liberia (EveryCulture.com)
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Liberia's Newspapers

The Inquirer (Private Daily)

Daily Observer (Private)
The Analyst (Private Daily)
The Heritage (Private Weekly)
 
Links to Nation’s Radios:
 
Liberian Broadcasting System (LBS) (State Run)
Star Radio (FM and shortwave, partnership with a Swiss company)
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History of U.S. Relations with Liberia

In 1819, the US Congress appropriated $100,000 to establish Liberia and assist in the resettlement of freemen and free slaves from North America. The American Colonization Society led this initiative, along with Americans like Francis Scott Key, George Washington’s nephew Bushrod, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and Presidents Monroe, Adams, and Jackson.

The first group of 86 immigrants, known as Americo-Liberians, created the settlement of Monrovia on February 6, 1820. Liberia issued its declaration of independence on July 26, 1847. In the years between 1821 and 1867, the American Colonization Society promoted the settlement of around 10,000 African-Americans to Liberia.The United States officially recognized the Republic of Liberia in 1862. In the years after the U.S. Civil War, thousands of freed American slaves and African-Americans also arrived in Liberia.

 
Early on, there was some resistance from the indigenous populations against the settlers, as the indigenous Africans were not given citizenship in the Republic until 1904. The country was ruled by the True Whig Party, which resulted in the Americo-Liberians becoming the elite members of society. The Americo-Liberians controlled political power and voting rights until April 12, 1980, when Sergeant Samuel K. Doe of the indigenous population toppled the government and executed President William R. Tolbert and various other political officeholders.
 
The US and Liberia shared particularly close relations with Liberia during the Cold War. President Doe met twice with President Ronald Reagan, and his government enjoyed considerable financial support from the US, despite Liberia’s poor human rights record. Relations between the two counties soured when Charles Taylor came to power. 
 
Because of the Liberian civil war between 1989 and 1997, many Liberians fled to the US and were granted refugee status.Liberian-American organizations estimate there are between 250,000 and 500,000 Liberians in the US. In 1997, the Immigration and Naturalization Service reported that Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota were the most popular states for Liberian immigrants. The Liberian population in New York alone is estimated to be between 35,000 and 50,000.
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Current U.S. Relations with Liberia

The US has been instrumental in helping Liberia achieve democratic and reconstruction goals, and since the end of the country’s civil war in 2003, the United States has contributed over $750 million in bilateral assistance and more than $750 million in assessed contributions to the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

 
The US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) assistance program in Liberia is the second-largest USAID development program in Africa. USAID’s post-conflict rebuilding strategy focuses on reintegration and is increasingly moving towards a longer-term development focus. Rehabilitation efforts include national and community infrastructure projects, such as expanding access to electricity, building roads, refurbishing government buildings, training Liberians in vocational skills, promoting business development, and improving livelihoods while protecting Liberia’s forests. USAID also funds basic education programs, improving education for children, focusing on girls, and training teachers.
 
In the health area, USAID programs include primary health care clinics, HIV/AIDS prevention, and a large malaria program. USAID supports rule of law programs, establishing legal aid clinics and victim abuse centers, training judges and lawyers, community peace building and reconciliation efforts, and anti-corruption projects to promote transparency and accountability in public sector entities. USAID is also providing support to strengthen the legislature and other political processes. USAID is strengthening civil society’s role in delivering services and advocating good governance. Total USAID funding in FY 2008 is $105 million.
 
In February 2008, President Bush visited Liberia, where he held his fourth one-on-one meeting with President Ellen JohnsonSirleaf since Sirleaf’s inauguration in January 2006.
 
Peace Corps volunteers returned to Liberia in 2008 for the first time since 1990.
 
In 2009, thousands of Liberians residing in the US faced the possibility of deportation after their special humanitarian federal immigration status expired on March 31. During the Liberian Civil War, the US had offered temporary protection status to some 14,000 Liberians who escaped from Liberia. However, due to the recent stabilization of the Liberian government after the democratic election of President Sirleaf in 2006, the US declined to extend the temporary residency to this group of Liberians.
 
TheLiberian Refugee Immigration Act of 2009(H.R.2258) was introduced by Representative Patrick Kennedy to the House of Representatives on May 5. If passed, the act would allow Liberian nationals who were given temporary protected status on or after March 27, 1991, the right to apply for permanent resident status. The bill has been referred to theHouse Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law.
 
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid an official visit to Liberia in August 2009.
 
On March 19, 2010, President Barack Obama extended the Liberians’ immigration status for an additional 18 months, until the end of November, 2011.
 
Liberia (USAID)
US Policy Toward Liberia (US Department of State)
President Obama extends immigration status for Liberians (by John E. Mulligan, Washington Bureau Journal)
 
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Where Does the Money Flow

From 2008 to 2009, US imports from Liberia increased from $43.6 million to $80.3 million, while US exports to Liberia decreased from $156.7 million to $95 million

 
From 2003 to 2009, US imports from Liberia were dominated by natural rubber and similar gums, which reached a high of $140.8 million in 2008, as compared to S74.2 million in 2009. No other import came even close to this commodity in value. The next largest imports in 2009 were petroleum at $2.1 million and gem diamonds-uncut or unset,worth $1.4 million.
 
From 2005 to 2009, US exports to Liberia included measuring, testing, control instruments, which increased from $8 million to $18.3 million; passenger cars (new and used), moving up from $8 million to $18.3 million; and rice, rising from $5 million to $7 million.
 
During the same period, US exports on the decline included miscellaneous foods, which moved down from $8.9 million to $3.9 million; finished metal shapes, falling from $7 million to $5.7 million; and pharmaceutical preparations, down from $5.9 million in 2009 to 3.2 million.
 
Of the projected $226.2 million in US aid to Liberia in 2010, $153 million has been allocated for the Economic Support Fund, $15 million to the Food for Peace Title II, $6 million for Foreign Military Financing, $500,000 to IMET, $6 million to International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement, $10 million to Peacekeeping Operations, and a combined total of $35.7 million to Global Health and Child Survival from the State and USAID.
 
The estimated request of foreign assistance for FY 2011 increases International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement from $6 million in 2010 to $17 million in 2011. Furthermore, FY 2011 also requests for a decrease in the number of Peacekeeping Operations from $10 million to $5 million. The US will significantly increase aid towards the International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement due to concerns of emerging narcotics trafficking in West Africa. The decrease in reliance on US aid for Peacekeeping Operations coincides with transitions from post-crisis activities and into sustainable development programs in the aftermath of the civil war.
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US Reinstates Trade Preference Benefits for Liberia (Office of the US Trade Representative)
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Controversies

Connections between American Televangelist Pat Robertson and Former President of Liberia, Charles G. Taylor

 
According 1999 articles in The Washington Post and The Virginian-Pilot, Pat Robertson had extensive business connections with former Liberian president Charles Taylor. Robertson is best known for his role as a televangelist and of his support of conservative Christianity. According to a June 2, 1999, article published in The Virginian-Pilot, Robertson’s company, Freedom Gold, Ltd, was given exclusive rights to mine diamonds in Liberia in May of 1999. Robertson allegedly used Operation Blessing planes, meant for sending relief supplies to Rwandan genocide victims, to haul diamond-mining equipment to Liberia.         
 
Under the deal, Freedom Gold, Ltd. was given exploration rights for five years and mining rights for an additional 20 years. The Liberian government is entitled to colleting royalties and other fees, as well as a possible 10% cut of profits in future dealings.
 
On February 4, 2010, Charles Taylor testified before the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, that Robertson was his primary political ally in the US. Taylor stated during his war crimes trial that Robertson had agreed to promote Liberia to the US administration in exchange for additional benefits for Freedom Gold, Ltd.
 
Former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor Tried for War Crimes
 
Under an amended indictment, Charles G. Taylor has been charged with 11 countsof war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sierra Leone. Taylor made his first appearance before the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague on April 3, 2006, and entered a plea of not guilty. His trial began on June 4, 2007, but was postponed until January 7, 2008.
In January 2009, the prosecution finished its presentation against Taylor and closed its case on February 27, 2009. Taylor’s defense began in July 2009, during which he testified in his own defense. As of 2010, prosecutors are still cross-examining Charles Taylor.
 
Taylor’ trial can be followed by the public on the website, The Trial of Charles Taylor. The website contains daily, weekly and monthly updates on the trial as well as background information on Taylor. Recently, the trial has been focused on the prosecution’s cross-examination of Taylor.
 
In May 2010, Taylor denied accusations that he contributed to the enslavement of child soldiers and brutal murders of villagers in areas neighboring Liberia. Unusual for an international war crimes trial, Taylor gave a long, direct testimony, which the prosecution has used to challenge Taylor’s earlier testimony under oath. In one case, he repeatedly denied that he had funneled government funds into private accounts while under oath. Prosecutors responded by presenting him with records of a bank account with more than $ 14 million, which Taylor justified as a “covert account...[to be] used covertly.”
 
On May 21, 2010, the special court issued a statement, emphasizing the need for supermodel Naomi Campbell to provide potentially incriminating evidence about a supposed "blood diamond" gift she received from Charles Taylor. Prosecutors at the Special Court for Sierra Leone were told about the gift by actress Mia Farrow, who attended a reception with Campbell and Taylor at the home of Nelson Mandela in 1997.
 
According to the prosecutors, Farrow said that Campbell had told her about being woken up in the middle of the night by "two or three men" and being given a "large" rough diamond on behalf the former president. Although Campbell has expressed wishes to not participate in Taylor’s trial, the judges must now decide whether to issue a subpoena to induce her participation as a witness.
 
The United States has been connected with Charles Taylor’s trial, through the testimony of a key witness and the trial of Taylor’s son, Charles Taylor, Jr.
 
Taylor, Jr. was found guilty of committing acts of torture during the civil war in Liberia. On October 30, 2008, he was convicted of several counts, including torture, conspiracy to commit torture, and possession of a firearm while committing a violent crime Taylor, Jr. was prosecuted by the US under the US Department of Justice’s Domestic Security Section. The presiding judge, Cecilia Altonaga, sentenced Taylor to 97 years in prison .on January 8, 2009, although he has plans to appeal his conviction. On the same day, the World Organization for Human Rights USA filed a civil suit in the Southern District of Florida on behalf of five of Taylor Jr.’s victims. The plaintiffs won by default judgment on all counts.
 
A Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up to hear all complaints and charges against Liberia’s’ former leader. Marie Vah, a nurse at a Minneapolis Hospital, testified that she had witnessed Charles Taylor starve Nigerian journalists Tayo Awotunsin and Krees Imobibie in 1990. Vah and a friend had been gone from the U.S. to Liberia to find relatives, only to be detained at the border on Taylor’s orders.
 
Taylor on Trial for War Crimes (by Marlies Simons, New York Times)
 
Conflict Diamonds Funding Wars in Liberia and Angola
In 2001, the UN reported that diamonds and other natural resources were being used to finance armed conflict in Liberia. The Liberian government at the time was in violation of trade and weapons bans and various sanctions were being discussed. Diamonds used to fund armed insurrections became known as “conflict diamonds,” many of which were smuggled into European countries and even the US. New rulings require all diamonds coming into UN countries be in accordance with the Kimberly Process, which certifies and governs the trading of these diamonds. Liberia has had two arms embargoes – in 1992 and 2001 – but a steady flow of arms continued to flow into the country. In 2004, controversy grew over alleged links between al-Qaeda and the smuggling of Sierra Leonean diamonds through Liberia. The FBI said it would investigate.
‘Conflict diamonds’ evade UN sanctions (Michael Fleshman, UN.org)
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Human Rights

According to the State Department, serious human rights problems continue to plague Liberia. Deaths from mob violence continue. Police abused, harassed, and intimidated detainees and citizens. Prison conditions remained harsh, and arbitrary arrest and detention occurred. Lengthy pretrial detention and denial of due process and fair public trial were problems. Some incidents of trial by ordeal were reported. Corruption and impunity continued in most levels of the government. There was violence against women, especially reports of rape. The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) remained widespread. Child abuse, trafficking in persons, and racial and ethnic discrimination were problems. Instances of child labor were reported, especially in the informal sector.

There were allegations that ex-combatants from former government and rebel security forces were involved in killings, theft, and other crimes against workers at the Sinoe and Firestone rubber plantations while the ex-combatants were illegally tapping or stealing processed rubber for resale.
 
Ritualistic killings, in which body parts used in traditional indigenous rituals were removed from the victim, reportedly occurred during the year. In one instance, Senator Sumo Kupee of Lofa County was accused of the ritual killing of a boy in a neighboring county on June 29, 2009. However, the senator was not prosecuted as the Ministry of Justice cited a lack of evidence in the case.
 
The constitution prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, but police and prison officials employed them. Police sometimes abused, harassed, and intimidated persons, particularly during attempts to extort money at checkpoints.
 Mob violence and vigilantism, which resulted in part from the public’s lack of confidence in the police and judicial system, resulted in deaths and injuries during the year.
 
In 2009, the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Conduct and Discipline Unit launched two investigations, both based on reports of sexual exploitation and abuse by UNMIL
 
Prison conditions were harsh and in some cases life threatening. Women and juveniles were subject to abuse by guards or other inmates.
 
Throughout 2009, several mass escapes from Liberian prisons occurred. This included the January 16, 2009 escape of prisoners from the Sanniquell Prison, the April escape of prisoners from the Palace of Corrections in Zwedru, and the May escape of prisoners from Monrovia Central Prison. Prison officials claim that these breakouts resulted from collusion by prison guards, and an investigation is being conducted.
 
Police officers and other government officials were responsible for the arbitrary arrest and detention of citizens during the year. Police arbitrarily arrested demonstrators and journalists during the year, but the cases were not prosecuted.
 
Judges were subject to political, social, familial, and financial pressures, and corruption persisted. Judges regularly received bribes or other illegal gifts from damages that they awarded in civil cases. Judges sometimes requested bribes to try cases, release detainees from prison, or find defendants not guilty in criminal cases. Defense attorneys sometimes suggested that their clients pay a gratuity to appease or secure favorable rulings from judges, prosecutors, jurors, and police officers.
 
The law does not provide criminal penalties for official corruption. The World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected that corruption was a serious problem, and corruption remained systematic throughout the government due to a culture of impunity.
 
The law does not specifically criminalize spousal rape. The number of reported rapes increased during the year. But the stigma of rape contributed to the pervasiveness of out-of-court settlements and obstructed prosecution of cases. Inefficiency in the justice system also prevented timely prosecution of cases.
 
Domestic violence was a widespread problem. Although prostitution is illegal, it was widespread. The law does not prohibit sexual harassment, and it was a problem, including in schools and places of work.
 
Widespread child abuse continued, and reports of sexual violence against children increased during the year. Civil society organizations reported increased incidents of rape of girls under 12.
 
On Feburary 24, 2009, a new court for rape and other forms of sexual violence opened in Monrovia.
 
There were police reports that persons were trafficked within the country, particularly for domestic work, labor, and prostitution.
 
The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including by children. But there were reports that such practices occurred. The law prohibits the employment and apprenticeship of children under the age of 16 during school hours, but the government did not effectively enforce the law. Child labor was widespread in almost every economic sector, in large part due to extreme poverty. Due to the continued severe economic problems, most citizens were forced to accept any work they could find regardless of wages or working conditions.
 
Critics have charged that the government rarely enforced media registration laws unless a media outlet criticized the government. One such case occurred in September 2009. According to the US State Deparment, “President Sirleaf sued the New Broom for 357.5 million Liberian dollars ($7.28 million) for reporting that she had accepted a bribe of 143 million Liberian dollars ($2.91 million)”. The president called for the closing of the newspaper for "deliberately and blatantly" violating the public trust, and the case is still in process.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

John J. Henry

Appointment: Mar 11, 1863
Note: Declined appointment.
 
Abraham Hanson
Appointment: Jun 8, 1863
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 23, 1864
Termination of Mission: Died at post on or before Jul 20, 1866
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 12, 1864.
 
John Seys
Appointment: Oct 8, 1866
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 2, 1867
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 11, 1870
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Feb 21, 1867.
 
J.R. Clay
Note: Not commissioned; nomination not confirmed by the Senate.
 
F.E. Dumas
Appointment: Apr 21, 1869
Note: Declined appointment.
 
James W. Mason
Appointment: Mar 29, 1870
Note: Did not proceed to post.
 
J. Milton Turner
Appointment: Mar 1, 1871
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 19, 1871
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 7, 1878
 
John H. Smyth
Appointment: May 23, 1878
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 19, 1878
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Dec 22, 1881
 
Henry Highland Garnet
Appointment: Jun 30, 1881
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 22, 1881
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Feb 13, 1882
Note: Commission (issued during recess of the Senate) not of record; enclosed with an instruction of Jul 19, 1881. Recommissioned after confirmation on Oct 26, 1881.
 
John H. Smyth
Appointment: Apr 12, 1882
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 4, 1882
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Dec 14, 1885
 
Moses A. Hopkins
Appointment: Sep 11, 1885
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 14, 1885
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Aug 3, 1886
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 13, 1886.
 
C.H.J. Taylor
Appointment: Mar 11, 1887
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 4, 1887
Termination of Mission: Left post soon after Sep 22, 1887
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate.
 
Ezekiel E. Smith
Appointment: Apr 24, 1888
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 21, 1888
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 20, 1890
 
Alexander Clark
Appointment: Aug 16, 1890
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 25, 1890
Termination of Mission: Died at post, May 31, 1891
 
William D. McCoy
Appointment: Jan 11, 1892
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 28, 1892
Termination of Mission: Died at post, May 15, 1893
 
William H. Heard
Appointment: Feb 23, 1895
Presentation of Credentials: May 6, 1895
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Apr 28, 1898
 
Owen L.W. Smith
Appointment: Feb 11, 1898
Presentation of Credentials: On or shortly before May 11, 1898
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 13, 1902
 
John R.A. Crossland
Appointment: Jan 16, 1902
Presentation of Credentials: May 13, 1902
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 30, 1903
 
Ernest Lyon
Appointment: Mar 16, 1903
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 27, 1903
Termination of Mission: Probably presented recall on or shortly before Aug 25, 1910
 
William D. Crum
Appointment: Jun 13, 1910
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 25, 1910
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 17, 1912
 
Fred R. Moore
Appointment: Mar 1, 1913
Note: Took oath of office, but did not proceed to post.
 
George W. Buckner
Appointment: Sep 10, 1913
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 8, 1913
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 15, 1915
 
James L. Curtis
Appointment: Oct 25, 1915
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 29, 1915
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 20, 1917
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 17, 1915.
 
Joseph J. Johnson
Appointment: Aug 27, 1918
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 8, 1919
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Feb 13, 1922
 
Solomon Porter Hood
Appointment: Oct 26, 1921
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 13, 1922
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 9, 1926
 
James G. Carter
Appointment: Mar 1, 1927
Note: Declined appointment.
 
William T. Francis
Appointment: Jul 9, 1927
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 30, 1927
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Jul 15, 1929
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 17, 1927.
 
Charles E. Mitchell
Appointment: Sep 10, 1930
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 16, 1930. Did not proceed to post in the capacity of Minister Resident/Consul General; took oath of office as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary and proceeded to post, but did not present credentials; left post, Mar 22, 1933, the Government of Liberia having requested his recall, Feb 11, 1933.
 
Lester A. Walton
Appointment: Jul 22, 1935
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 2, 1935
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 28, 1946
 
Raphael O’Hara Lanier
Appointment: Feb 13, 1946
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 1, 1946
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 8, 1948
 
Edward R. Dudley
Appointment: Aug 11, 1948
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 18, 1948
Termination of Mission: Promoted to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Mar 2, 1949.
 
Edward R. Dudley
Appointment: Mar 18, 1949
Presentation of Credentials: May 6, 1949
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 15, 1953
 
Jesse D. Locker
Appointment: Jul 22, 1953
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 16, 1953
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Apr 10, 1955
 
Richard Lee Jones
Appointment: May 31, 1955
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 24, 1955
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 24, 1959
 
Elbert G. Mathews
Appointment: Aug 12, 1959
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 30, 1959
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 4, 1962
 
Charles Edward Rhetts
Appointment: Jul 5, 1962
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 7, 1962
Termination of Mission: Left Liberia, Sep 30, 1964
 
Ben H. Brown, Jr.
Appointment: Nov 25, 1964
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 6, 1965
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 17, 1969
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 18, 1965.
 
Samuel Z. Westerfield, Jr.
Appointment: Jul 8, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 9, 1969
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Jul 19, 1972
 
Melvin L. Manfull
Appointment: Dec 2, 1972
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 22, 1972
Termination of Mission: Left post, Dec 15, 1975
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Feb 8, 1973.
 
W. Beverly Carter, Jr.
Appointment: Apr 6, 1976
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 23, 1976
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 1, 1979
 
Robert P. Smith
Appointment: Jul 2, 1979
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 6, 1979
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 15, 1981
 
William Lacy Swing
Appointment: Jul 18, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 11, 1981
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 10, 1985
 
Edward Joseph Perkins
Appointment: Jul 12, 1985
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 28, 1985
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 22, 1986
 
James Keough Bishop
Appointment: Mar 27, 1987
Presentation of Credentials: May 4, 1987
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 31, 1990
 
Peter Jon de Vos
Appointment: Jun 22, 1990
Presentation of Credentials:
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 27, 1992
Note: Arrived at post, Jun 28, 1990. Had not presented credentials before the overthrow of the Government of Liberia on Sep 11, 1990.
 
Note: Between 1992 and 1999 the following officers served as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim: William H. Twaddell (Sep 1992–Jul 1995), William B. Milam (Nov. 1995–Jan 1999), and Donald K. Petterson (Feb 1999–Aug 1999).
 
Bismark Myrick
Appointment: Jul 7, 1999
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 20, 1999
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 23, 2002
 
John William Blaney
Appointment: Aug 8, 2002
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 3, 2002
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 13, 2005
 
Donald E. Booth
Appointment: June 21, 2005
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 9, 2005
Termination of Mission: 2008
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Liberia's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Sulunteh, Jeremiah

The West African nation of Liberia, which has had close relations with the U.S. since its founding by American former slaves in 1847, has sent a new ambassador to Washington who has played a key role in the nation’s reconstruction after back-to-back civil wars that killed 250,000 people between 1989 and 2003. Former Labor Minister Jeremiah C. Sulunteh, who presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on May 7, 2012, replaces William Bull, Sr., who served as Liberian ambassador starting in August 2010.

 

Jeremiah Sulunteh was born on October 11, 1958, in Gboimu Town, Suacoco, Bong County, Liberia, to Sulunteh Yeibah, a farmer, and his wife, Kanny Bu-Nquoi, now deceased. After completing his secondary education in Suacoco Town, Sulunteh entered the Booker Washington Institute, a vocational school in Kakata, Liberia, where he earned a diploma in Agriculture in 1980. He later earned a B.S. in Economics at Cuttington University in Suacoco in 1988, an M.P.A. at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, in 1994, where his thesis was entitled “The Political Economy of African Development: A Comparative Study of Kenya and Tanzania,” and an M.A. in Economics at York University in Toronto, Canada, in 2001, where he taught economics classes and wrote a thesis titled, “Public Sector Deficits and Macroeconomic Performance: Adjustment, Reform and Growth, the Case of Ghana.” 

 

During his career, Sulunteh has worked as a financial aid advisor at York University, as an accounts representative at the Royal Bank of Canada, as project coordinator for the Friends of Liberia, as an administrative assistant to the Vice President for Administration at Cuttington University, and as a field financial analyst for a Bong County, Liberia, Agricultural Development Project. He has taught Public Finance Administration and Administrative Theory and Practice at the University of Liberia, as well as Economic Development at the Graduate School of Cuttington University, where he served as associate vice president for Planning and Development and then as administrator until 2006.

 

In 2005, Sulunteh ran for Liberia’s vice-presidency on a ticket with Winston Tubman, but the pair did not survive the first round of balloting, and went on to support the eventual winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

 

In 2006, Sulunteh was appointed minister of transport by President Sirleaf, who later named him minister of post & telecommunications, and minister of labor. At the Ministries of Transport and of Post & Telecom, Sulunteh was broadly credited with successfully beginning the reconstruction of Liberia’s infrastructure; while as labor minister he championed labor law reform legislation intended to created “decent workplaces.” Also at the Transport Ministry, he saw to it that an elementary school and a junior high school were built in his hometown so that the children of Gboimu would not have to walk, as he had done, three miles every morning to attend school in Gbondoi.

 

Sulunteh and his wife, Kabeh Sulunteh, have three children. He speaks and writes Kpelle, his native tongue, which is Liberia’s most commonly spoken indigenous language, as well as English, which is the dominant language of government and commerce.

-Matt Bewig

 

Biography (Daily Observer)

Sulunteh Takes Oath of Office Honored by Citizens of His Native Bong County (by Stephen Binda and Marcus N. Malayea, Daily Observer)

Minister Sulunteh Fires Three Employees for Check Fraud (by Vivian N. Cooper, Ministry of Post & Telecommunications)

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Liberia's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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Comments

Mark 4 years ago
What an amazing day. Little old Fort Collins folks mtineeg the VP of Liberia! Good job! I know Kent has mixed emotions about coming home and I can't wait to start hearing some of the stories. To all of you bless you once again. Anna, you will find a way to provide for little Alfred with God's grace. Just your smile I'm sure brought him the gift of joy. I will pray for all of you that you make great progress these next few days and that you all are brought home safely. And yes, I will be blessed to have Kent home safe and sound as well! This has been an amazing trip for him and for me. God truly works in ways we might not even know until much later. Remember that as you leave on Tuesday. With great love, and respect for all of you and all you've done. Lisa
Doubting Thomas 6 years ago
you seem to have skipped lots in your glossing over of what is really happening on liberia. for example how the president was named as one of the people who should be banned from running again yet she refuses toad ere tothat despite your hollow claims of supporting the democratic process. how about despite the fact that liberia is really a us welfare state, the government of sirleaf has given the chinese lucrative mining concessions. what about the fact there her sons hold party o...

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U.S. Ambassador to Liberia

Thomas-Greenfield, Linda
ambassador-image

Linda Thomas-Greenfield serves as the United States Ambassador to Liberia. She was nominated by President George W. Bush in February 2008, confirmed by the Senate on June 4, 2008, and sworn in on July 18, 2008, by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

 
Thomas-Greenfield graduated from Louisiana State University in 1974 with a BA in political science. She also holds a MA in political science from the University of Wisconsin.
 
Thomas-Greenfield taught political science at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA before becoming a career member of the Senior Foreign Service in 1982. In Africa, she served in Nigeria, Gambia, and Kenya. Other assignments include: Jamaica, Pakistan, and Switzerland. Her domestic assignments were in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and the Office of the Director General of the Foreign Service.
 
She served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration from June 2004 to January 2006, followed by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau for African Affairs from January 6, 2006 to July 15, 2008.
 

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Overview

Liberia was established by free African Americans and former slaves who came from the United States in 1820. Liberia means “land of the free,” and over several decades, thousands of freed slaves joined settlements in Monrovia. The Americo-Liberians came into conflict with indigenous Africans, who enjoyed fewer rights. Joseph Jenkins Roberts, the country’s first president, modeled Liberia’s government after that of the United States, where he was born and raised. Liberia’s government has traditionally been troubled, however, first under Liberian Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe, who seized power in 1980, and then under Charles Taylor, who took over the country in a violent 1989 coup. Liberia was engulfed in civil war for several years until Taylor solidified his power and took office. But Liberia soon descended into chaos, with unemployment and illiteracy, as well as infrastructure problems plaguing the country. In 2003, the country signed a peace treaty and Taylor stepped down and left for exile in Nigeria. In 2005, Liberia elected its first female leader, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who has pledged greater stability and reform, as well as repaired relations with the US and other allies.

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: In southwestern West Africa, Liberia is bordered on the north by Guinea, on the east by the Ivory Coast, on the south by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the west by Sierra Leone. The coastal sands give way to lush jungle growth invigorated by an eight-month rainy season.

 
Population: 3.3 million
 
Religions: Ethnoreligious 42.3%, Christian 39.8%, Muslim 16.0%, Non-religious 1.5%, Baha’i 0.3%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Indigenous African (Kpelle, Bassa, Gio, Kru, Loma, Mandingo...) 95%, Americo-Liberians (descendents of immigrants from the US who had been slaves) 2.5%, Congo People (descendents of immigrants from the Caribbean who had been slaves) 2.5%.
 
Languages: Liberian Kpelle 14.3%, Grebo dialect cluster (e.g. Northern, Barclayville, Gboloo, Central) 11.4%, Bassa 10.2%, Mann 5.4%, Klao 5.4%, Dan 5.1%, Loma 4.1%, Southern Kisi 3.4%, Bandi 3.0%, Gola 2.9%, English (official). There are 30 living languages in Liberia.
 
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History

In 1461, Portuguese explorers established contact with Liberia and named the area Grain Coast. This was because Liberia had an abundance of Malegueta pepper seeds, which the Portuguese called “grains of paradise.”

 
In 1663, the British established trading posts on the Grain Coast, but these were quickly destroyed by the Dutch in 1664. Though many recognized the value of Liberian natural resources, there were no further reports of European settlements along the Grain Coast until the 1800s. 
 
Liberia, which means “land of the free,” was established by former slaves who came from the United States in 1820. The original group of 86 immigrants came to be called Americo-Liberians. They established a settlement at Christopolis, which was later named Monrovia, after US president James Monroe, on February 6, 1820.
 
During the next few decades, thousands of free slaves came to Liberia. More settlements were established, and on July 26, 1847, the independent Republic of Liberia was established. The American Colonization Society (ACS), an organization of white clergymen, abolitionists, and slave owners, helped free slaves to resettle in Liberia, and between 1821 and 1867, the ACS sent some 10,000 African-Americans and Africans taken from interdicted slave ships back to Africa. The ACS governed the Commonwealth of Liberia until its independence in 1847.
 
Many of the new settlers found opposition from indigenous Africans, some of it violent. Indigenous Africans were excluded from citizenship until 1904. At the same time, British and French colonialists encroached upon Liberia, taking over much of its territory.
 
Liberia was a one-party state, ruled by the True Whig Party (TWP). Joseph Jenkins Roberts, who was born and raised in America, was Liberia’s first President. He shaped Liberia’s government after that of the United States, with the Americo-Liberians enjoying elite status and the indigenous population suffering with few rights or privileges.
 
The True Whig Party dominated all sectors of Liberia from independence in 1847 until April 12, 1980, when Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe (from the Krahn ethnic group) seized power in a coup d’etat. Doe’s forces executed President William R. Tolbert and several officials of his government, mostly of Americo-Liberian descent. One hundred and thirty-three years of Americo-Liberian political domination ended with the formation of the People’s Redemption Council (PRC).
 
Doe’s government began to promote members of his own Krahn ethnic group, and soon they dominated the political and military aspects of Liberia. Racial tensions escalated, causing skirmishes across the country.
 
The October 1985 elections were marred by widespread fraud, and Doe managed to solidify his control of the government. Human right abuses, corruption and ethnic tensions all escalated in the years following the election, and the country’s standard of living fell.
 
On November 12, 1985, former Army Commanding Gen. Thomas Quiwonkpa almost succeeded in toppling Doe’s government, but the Armed Forces of Liberia repelled Quiwonkpa’s attack, and executed him in Monrovia. Doe also carried out reprisals against Manu and Gio people who had supported Quiwonkpa.
 
On December 24, 1989, a small band of rebels led by Doe’s former procurement chief, Charles Taylor, invaded Liberia from Cote d’Ivoire. Taylor, along with his National Patriotic Front rebels, gained the support of many Liberians and reached the outskirts of Monrovia within six months. The years 1989 to 1994 saw one of Africa’s bloodiest civil wars ensue across Liberia, as Taylor’s forces struggled to take the capital. More than 10,000 Liberians were killed, and a millions of others were displaced to refugee camps in neighboring countries.
 
In 1990, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened and prevented Charles Taylor from capturing Monrovia. Prince Johnson, formerly a member of Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), formed the breakaway Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL).
 
On September 9, 1990, Johnson’s forces captured and killed Doe, then took refuge in Sierra Leone and other neighboring countries. Former AFL soldiers founded the new insurgent United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) to fight back against Taylor’s NPFL.
 
An Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU) was formed in Gambia under the auspices of ECOWAS in October 1990, headed by Dr. Amos C. Sawyer. Taylor (along with other Liberian factions) refused to work with the interim government and continued fighting. After more than a dozen peace accords and declining military power, Taylor finally agreed to the formation of a five-man transitional government.
 
Special elections held on July 19, 997 resulted in Charles Taylor and his National Patriotic Party emerging victorious. Many Liberians claimed that they voted for Taylor only to avoid a return to war should he lose.
 
Charles Taylor ruled Liberia for the next six years, doing little to improve the lives of Liberians. Unemployment and illiteracy stood above 75%, and little investment was made in the country’s infrastructure. Liberia today is still recovering from the ravages of war; water and electricity are generally unavailable to most of the population, especially outside Monrovia, and schools, hospitals, roads, and infrastructure remain derelict.
 
Taylor continued to support the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leona, which led to armed rebellion among Taylor’s former adversaries. By 2003, armed groups called “Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy” (LURD) and “Movement for Democracy in Liberia” (MODEL), largely representing elements of the former ULIMO-K and ULIMO-J factions that fought Taylor during Liberia’s previous civil war, challenged Taylor and his increasingly fragmented supporters on the outskirts of Monrovia.
 
On June 4, 2003, ECOWAS held peace talks in Ghana. On the same day, the Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone issued a press statement announcing the opening of a sealed March 7, 2003 indictment of Liberian President Charles Taylor for “bearing the greatest responsibility” for atrocities in Sierra Leone since November 1996. In July 2003, the government of Liberia, LURD, and MODEL signed a cease-fire that all sides failed to respect. Fighting reached downtown Monrovia in July and August.
 
On August 11, 2003, under intense US and international pressure, President Taylor resigned office and departed into exile in Nigeria. ECOWAS deployed a 3,600 member peacekeeping force in Liberia, and leaders from the Liberian government, rebels, political parties and the local community signed a comprehensive peace agreement that laid the framework for constructing a two-year National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), headed by businessman Gyude Bryant. In October 2003, the UN took over security in Liberia, subsuming ECOMIL into the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
 
The October 11, 2005 presidential and legislative elections and the subsequent November 8, 2005 presidential run-off were the most free, fair, and peaceful elections in Liberia’s history. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf defeated international soccer star George Weah 59.4% to 40.6% to become Africa’s first democratically elected female president. Sirleaf was inaugurated in January 2006 and formed a government of technocrats from the country’s diverse ethnic groups, including members of the Liberian diaspora who had returned to the country to rebuild government institutions.
 
Since the 2005 elections, Liberia’s political situation has remained stable. President Sirleaf has taken a public stance against corruption and has dismissed several government officials. She enjoys good relations with international organizations and donor governments, and her government has enacted several key reforms.
 
Liberia’s security reforms have led to the disarmament of more than 100,000 ex-combatants, the wholesale US-led reconstruction of the Armed Forces of Liberia, and a UN-led effort to overhaul the Liberian National Police. The government of Liberia won substantial donor support for its new Poverty Reduction Strategy at the June 2008 Liberia Poverty Reduction Forum in Berlin, Germany.
 
History of Liberia (Wikipedia)
Liberia – Country Profile (Nations Online)
Culture of Liberia (EveryCulture.com)
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Liberia's Newspapers

The Inquirer (Private Daily)

Daily Observer (Private)
The Analyst (Private Daily)
The Heritage (Private Weekly)
 
Links to Nation’s Radios:
 
Liberian Broadcasting System (LBS) (State Run)
Star Radio (FM and shortwave, partnership with a Swiss company)
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History of U.S. Relations with Liberia

In 1819, the US Congress appropriated $100,000 to establish Liberia and assist in the resettlement of freemen and free slaves from North America. The American Colonization Society led this initiative, along with Americans like Francis Scott Key, George Washington’s nephew Bushrod, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and Presidents Monroe, Adams, and Jackson.

The first group of 86 immigrants, known as Americo-Liberians, created the settlement of Monrovia on February 6, 1820. Liberia issued its declaration of independence on July 26, 1847. In the years between 1821 and 1867, the American Colonization Society promoted the settlement of around 10,000 African-Americans to Liberia.The United States officially recognized the Republic of Liberia in 1862. In the years after the U.S. Civil War, thousands of freed American slaves and African-Americans also arrived in Liberia.

 
Early on, there was some resistance from the indigenous populations against the settlers, as the indigenous Africans were not given citizenship in the Republic until 1904. The country was ruled by the True Whig Party, which resulted in the Americo-Liberians becoming the elite members of society. The Americo-Liberians controlled political power and voting rights until April 12, 1980, when Sergeant Samuel K. Doe of the indigenous population toppled the government and executed President William R. Tolbert and various other political officeholders.
 
The US and Liberia shared particularly close relations with Liberia during the Cold War. President Doe met twice with President Ronald Reagan, and his government enjoyed considerable financial support from the US, despite Liberia’s poor human rights record. Relations between the two counties soured when Charles Taylor came to power. 
 
Because of the Liberian civil war between 1989 and 1997, many Liberians fled to the US and were granted refugee status.Liberian-American organizations estimate there are between 250,000 and 500,000 Liberians in the US. In 1997, the Immigration and Naturalization Service reported that Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota were the most popular states for Liberian immigrants. The Liberian population in New York alone is estimated to be between 35,000 and 50,000.
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Current U.S. Relations with Liberia

The US has been instrumental in helping Liberia achieve democratic and reconstruction goals, and since the end of the country’s civil war in 2003, the United States has contributed over $750 million in bilateral assistance and more than $750 million in assessed contributions to the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

 
The US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) assistance program in Liberia is the second-largest USAID development program in Africa. USAID’s post-conflict rebuilding strategy focuses on reintegration and is increasingly moving towards a longer-term development focus. Rehabilitation efforts include national and community infrastructure projects, such as expanding access to electricity, building roads, refurbishing government buildings, training Liberians in vocational skills, promoting business development, and improving livelihoods while protecting Liberia’s forests. USAID also funds basic education programs, improving education for children, focusing on girls, and training teachers.
 
In the health area, USAID programs include primary health care clinics, HIV/AIDS prevention, and a large malaria program. USAID supports rule of law programs, establishing legal aid clinics and victim abuse centers, training judges and lawyers, community peace building and reconciliation efforts, and anti-corruption projects to promote transparency and accountability in public sector entities. USAID is also providing support to strengthen the legislature and other political processes. USAID is strengthening civil society’s role in delivering services and advocating good governance. Total USAID funding in FY 2008 is $105 million.
 
In February 2008, President Bush visited Liberia, where he held his fourth one-on-one meeting with President Ellen JohnsonSirleaf since Sirleaf’s inauguration in January 2006.
 
Peace Corps volunteers returned to Liberia in 2008 for the first time since 1990.
 
In 2009, thousands of Liberians residing in the US faced the possibility of deportation after their special humanitarian federal immigration status expired on March 31. During the Liberian Civil War, the US had offered temporary protection status to some 14,000 Liberians who escaped from Liberia. However, due to the recent stabilization of the Liberian government after the democratic election of President Sirleaf in 2006, the US declined to extend the temporary residency to this group of Liberians.
 
TheLiberian Refugee Immigration Act of 2009(H.R.2258) was introduced by Representative Patrick Kennedy to the House of Representatives on May 5. If passed, the act would allow Liberian nationals who were given temporary protected status on or after March 27, 1991, the right to apply for permanent resident status. The bill has been referred to theHouse Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law.
 
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid an official visit to Liberia in August 2009.
 
On March 19, 2010, President Barack Obama extended the Liberians’ immigration status for an additional 18 months, until the end of November, 2011.
 
Liberia (USAID)
US Policy Toward Liberia (US Department of State)
President Obama extends immigration status for Liberians (by John E. Mulligan, Washington Bureau Journal)
 
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Where Does the Money Flow

From 2008 to 2009, US imports from Liberia increased from $43.6 million to $80.3 million, while US exports to Liberia decreased from $156.7 million to $95 million

 
From 2003 to 2009, US imports from Liberia were dominated by natural rubber and similar gums, which reached a high of $140.8 million in 2008, as compared to S74.2 million in 2009. No other import came even close to this commodity in value. The next largest imports in 2009 were petroleum at $2.1 million and gem diamonds-uncut or unset,worth $1.4 million.
 
From 2005 to 2009, US exports to Liberia included measuring, testing, control instruments, which increased from $8 million to $18.3 million; passenger cars (new and used), moving up from $8 million to $18.3 million; and rice, rising from $5 million to $7 million.
 
During the same period, US exports on the decline included miscellaneous foods, which moved down from $8.9 million to $3.9 million; finished metal shapes, falling from $7 million to $5.7 million; and pharmaceutical preparations, down from $5.9 million in 2009 to 3.2 million.
 
Of the projected $226.2 million in US aid to Liberia in 2010, $153 million has been allocated for the Economic Support Fund, $15 million to the Food for Peace Title II, $6 million for Foreign Military Financing, $500,000 to IMET, $6 million to International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement, $10 million to Peacekeeping Operations, and a combined total of $35.7 million to Global Health and Child Survival from the State and USAID.
 
The estimated request of foreign assistance for FY 2011 increases International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement from $6 million in 2010 to $17 million in 2011. Furthermore, FY 2011 also requests for a decrease in the number of Peacekeeping Operations from $10 million to $5 million. The US will significantly increase aid towards the International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement due to concerns of emerging narcotics trafficking in West Africa. The decrease in reliance on US aid for Peacekeeping Operations coincides with transitions from post-crisis activities and into sustainable development programs in the aftermath of the civil war.
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US Reinstates Trade Preference Benefits for Liberia (Office of the US Trade Representative)
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Controversies

Connections between American Televangelist Pat Robertson and Former President of Liberia, Charles G. Taylor

 
According 1999 articles in The Washington Post and The Virginian-Pilot, Pat Robertson had extensive business connections with former Liberian president Charles Taylor. Robertson is best known for his role as a televangelist and of his support of conservative Christianity. According to a June 2, 1999, article published in The Virginian-Pilot, Robertson’s company, Freedom Gold, Ltd, was given exclusive rights to mine diamonds in Liberia in May of 1999. Robertson allegedly used Operation Blessing planes, meant for sending relief supplies to Rwandan genocide victims, to haul diamond-mining equipment to Liberia.         
 
Under the deal, Freedom Gold, Ltd. was given exploration rights for five years and mining rights for an additional 20 years. The Liberian government is entitled to colleting royalties and other fees, as well as a possible 10% cut of profits in future dealings.
 
On February 4, 2010, Charles Taylor testified before the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague, that Robertson was his primary political ally in the US. Taylor stated during his war crimes trial that Robertson had agreed to promote Liberia to the US administration in exchange for additional benefits for Freedom Gold, Ltd.
 
Former President of Liberia, Charles Taylor Tried for War Crimes
 
Under an amended indictment, Charles G. Taylor has been charged with 11 countsof war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sierra Leone. Taylor made his first appearance before the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague on April 3, 2006, and entered a plea of not guilty. His trial began on June 4, 2007, but was postponed until January 7, 2008.
In January 2009, the prosecution finished its presentation against Taylor and closed its case on February 27, 2009. Taylor’s defense began in July 2009, during which he testified in his own defense. As of 2010, prosecutors are still cross-examining Charles Taylor.
 
Taylor’ trial can be followed by the public on the website, The Trial of Charles Taylor. The website contains daily, weekly and monthly updates on the trial as well as background information on Taylor. Recently, the trial has been focused on the prosecution’s cross-examination of Taylor.
 
In May 2010, Taylor denied accusations that he contributed to the enslavement of child soldiers and brutal murders of villagers in areas neighboring Liberia. Unusual for an international war crimes trial, Taylor gave a long, direct testimony, which the prosecution has used to challenge Taylor’s earlier testimony under oath. In one case, he repeatedly denied that he had funneled government funds into private accounts while under oath. Prosecutors responded by presenting him with records of a bank account with more than $ 14 million, which Taylor justified as a “covert account...[to be] used covertly.”
 
On May 21, 2010, the special court issued a statement, emphasizing the need for supermodel Naomi Campbell to provide potentially incriminating evidence about a supposed "blood diamond" gift she received from Charles Taylor. Prosecutors at the Special Court for Sierra Leone were told about the gift by actress Mia Farrow, who attended a reception with Campbell and Taylor at the home of Nelson Mandela in 1997.
 
According to the prosecutors, Farrow said that Campbell had told her about being woken up in the middle of the night by "two or three men" and being given a "large" rough diamond on behalf the former president. Although Campbell has expressed wishes to not participate in Taylor’s trial, the judges must now decide whether to issue a subpoena to induce her participation as a witness.
 
The United States has been connected with Charles Taylor’s trial, through the testimony of a key witness and the trial of Taylor’s son, Charles Taylor, Jr.
 
Taylor, Jr. was found guilty of committing acts of torture during the civil war in Liberia. On October 30, 2008, he was convicted of several counts, including torture, conspiracy to commit torture, and possession of a firearm while committing a violent crime Taylor, Jr. was prosecuted by the US under the US Department of Justice’s Domestic Security Section. The presiding judge, Cecilia Altonaga, sentenced Taylor to 97 years in prison .on January 8, 2009, although he has plans to appeal his conviction. On the same day, the World Organization for Human Rights USA filed a civil suit in the Southern District of Florida on behalf of five of Taylor Jr.’s victims. The plaintiffs won by default judgment on all counts.
 
A Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up to hear all complaints and charges against Liberia’s’ former leader. Marie Vah, a nurse at a Minneapolis Hospital, testified that she had witnessed Charles Taylor starve Nigerian journalists Tayo Awotunsin and Krees Imobibie in 1990. Vah and a friend had been gone from the U.S. to Liberia to find relatives, only to be detained at the border on Taylor’s orders.
 
Taylor on Trial for War Crimes (by Marlies Simons, New York Times)
 
Conflict Diamonds Funding Wars in Liberia and Angola
In 2001, the UN reported that diamonds and other natural resources were being used to finance armed conflict in Liberia. The Liberian government at the time was in violation of trade and weapons bans and various sanctions were being discussed. Diamonds used to fund armed insurrections became known as “conflict diamonds,” many of which were smuggled into European countries and even the US. New rulings require all diamonds coming into UN countries be in accordance with the Kimberly Process, which certifies and governs the trading of these diamonds. Liberia has had two arms embargoes – in 1992 and 2001 – but a steady flow of arms continued to flow into the country. In 2004, controversy grew over alleged links between al-Qaeda and the smuggling of Sierra Leonean diamonds through Liberia. The FBI said it would investigate.
‘Conflict diamonds’ evade UN sanctions (Michael Fleshman, UN.org)
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Human Rights

According to the State Department, serious human rights problems continue to plague Liberia. Deaths from mob violence continue. Police abused, harassed, and intimidated detainees and citizens. Prison conditions remained harsh, and arbitrary arrest and detention occurred. Lengthy pretrial detention and denial of due process and fair public trial were problems. Some incidents of trial by ordeal were reported. Corruption and impunity continued in most levels of the government. There was violence against women, especially reports of rape. The practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) remained widespread. Child abuse, trafficking in persons, and racial and ethnic discrimination were problems. Instances of child labor were reported, especially in the informal sector.

There were allegations that ex-combatants from former government and rebel security forces were involved in killings, theft, and other crimes against workers at the Sinoe and Firestone rubber plantations while the ex-combatants were illegally tapping or stealing processed rubber for resale.
 
Ritualistic killings, in which body parts used in traditional indigenous rituals were removed from the victim, reportedly occurred during the year. In one instance, Senator Sumo Kupee of Lofa County was accused of the ritual killing of a boy in a neighboring county on June 29, 2009. However, the senator was not prosecuted as the Ministry of Justice cited a lack of evidence in the case.
 
The constitution prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, but police and prison officials employed them. Police sometimes abused, harassed, and intimidated persons, particularly during attempts to extort money at checkpoints.
 Mob violence and vigilantism, which resulted in part from the public’s lack of confidence in the police and judicial system, resulted in deaths and injuries during the year.
 
In 2009, the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Conduct and Discipline Unit launched two investigations, both based on reports of sexual exploitation and abuse by UNMIL
 
Prison conditions were harsh and in some cases life threatening. Women and juveniles were subject to abuse by guards or other inmates.
 
Throughout 2009, several mass escapes from Liberian prisons occurred. This included the January 16, 2009 escape of prisoners from the Sanniquell Prison, the April escape of prisoners from the Palace of Corrections in Zwedru, and the May escape of prisoners from Monrovia Central Prison. Prison officials claim that these breakouts resulted from collusion by prison guards, and an investigation is being conducted.
 
Police officers and other government officials were responsible for the arbitrary arrest and detention of citizens during the year. Police arbitrarily arrested demonstrators and journalists during the year, but the cases were not prosecuted.
 
Judges were subject to political, social, familial, and financial pressures, and corruption persisted. Judges regularly received bribes or other illegal gifts from damages that they awarded in civil cases. Judges sometimes requested bribes to try cases, release detainees from prison, or find defendants not guilty in criminal cases. Defense attorneys sometimes suggested that their clients pay a gratuity to appease or secure favorable rulings from judges, prosecutors, jurors, and police officers.
 
The law does not provide criminal penalties for official corruption. The World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected that corruption was a serious problem, and corruption remained systematic throughout the government due to a culture of impunity.
 
The law does not specifically criminalize spousal rape. The number of reported rapes increased during the year. But the stigma of rape contributed to the pervasiveness of out-of-court settlements and obstructed prosecution of cases. Inefficiency in the justice system also prevented timely prosecution of cases.
 
Domestic violence was a widespread problem. Although prostitution is illegal, it was widespread. The law does not prohibit sexual harassment, and it was a problem, including in schools and places of work.
 
Widespread child abuse continued, and reports of sexual violence against children increased during the year. Civil society organizations reported increased incidents of rape of girls under 12.
 
On Feburary 24, 2009, a new court for rape and other forms of sexual violence opened in Monrovia.
 
There were police reports that persons were trafficked within the country, particularly for domestic work, labor, and prostitution.
 
The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including by children. But there were reports that such practices occurred. The law prohibits the employment and apprenticeship of children under the age of 16 during school hours, but the government did not effectively enforce the law. Child labor was widespread in almost every economic sector, in large part due to extreme poverty. Due to the continued severe economic problems, most citizens were forced to accept any work they could find regardless of wages or working conditions.
 
Critics have charged that the government rarely enforced media registration laws unless a media outlet criticized the government. One such case occurred in September 2009. According to the US State Deparment, “President Sirleaf sued the New Broom for 357.5 million Liberian dollars ($7.28 million) for reporting that she had accepted a bribe of 143 million Liberian dollars ($2.91 million)”. The president called for the closing of the newspaper for "deliberately and blatantly" violating the public trust, and the case is still in process.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

John J. Henry

Appointment: Mar 11, 1863
Note: Declined appointment.
 
Abraham Hanson
Appointment: Jun 8, 1863
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 23, 1864
Termination of Mission: Died at post on or before Jul 20, 1866
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 12, 1864.
 
John Seys
Appointment: Oct 8, 1866
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 2, 1867
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 11, 1870
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Feb 21, 1867.
 
J.R. Clay
Note: Not commissioned; nomination not confirmed by the Senate.
 
F.E. Dumas
Appointment: Apr 21, 1869
Note: Declined appointment.
 
James W. Mason
Appointment: Mar 29, 1870
Note: Did not proceed to post.
 
J. Milton Turner
Appointment: Mar 1, 1871
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 19, 1871
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 7, 1878
 
John H. Smyth
Appointment: May 23, 1878
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 19, 1878
Termination of Mission: Relinquished charge, Dec 22, 1881
 
Henry Highland Garnet
Appointment: Jun 30, 1881
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 22, 1881
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Feb 13, 1882
Note: Commission (issued during recess of the Senate) not of record; enclosed with an instruction of Jul 19, 1881. Recommissioned after confirmation on Oct 26, 1881.
 
John H. Smyth
Appointment: Apr 12, 1882
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 4, 1882
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Dec 14, 1885
 
Moses A. Hopkins
Appointment: Sep 11, 1885
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 14, 1885
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Aug 3, 1886
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 13, 1886.
 
C.H.J. Taylor
Appointment: Mar 11, 1887
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 4, 1887
Termination of Mission: Left post soon after Sep 22, 1887
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate.
 
Ezekiel E. Smith
Appointment: Apr 24, 1888
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 21, 1888
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 20, 1890
 
Alexander Clark
Appointment: Aug 16, 1890
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 25, 1890
Termination of Mission: Died at post, May 31, 1891
 
William D. McCoy
Appointment: Jan 11, 1892
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 28, 1892
Termination of Mission: Died at post, May 15, 1893
 
William H. Heard
Appointment: Feb 23, 1895
Presentation of Credentials: May 6, 1895
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Apr 28, 1898
 
Owen L.W. Smith
Appointment: Feb 11, 1898
Presentation of Credentials: On or shortly before May 11, 1898
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, May 13, 1902
 
John R.A. Crossland
Appointment: Jan 16, 1902
Presentation of Credentials: May 13, 1902
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 30, 1903
 
Ernest Lyon
Appointment: Mar 16, 1903
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 27, 1903
Termination of Mission: Probably presented recall on or shortly before Aug 25, 1910
 
William D. Crum
Appointment: Jun 13, 1910
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 25, 1910
Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 17, 1912
 
Fred R. Moore
Appointment: Mar 1, 1913
Note: Took oath of office, but did not proceed to post.
 
George W. Buckner
Appointment: Sep 10, 1913
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 8, 1913
Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 15, 1915
 
James L. Curtis
Appointment: Oct 25, 1915
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 29, 1915
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 20, 1917
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 17, 1915.
 
Joseph J. Johnson
Appointment: Aug 27, 1918
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 8, 1919
Termination of Mission: Presented recall, Feb 13, 1922
 
Solomon Porter Hood
Appointment: Oct 26, 1921
Presentation of Credentials: Feb 13, 1922
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 9, 1926
 
James G. Carter
Appointment: Mar 1, 1927
Note: Declined appointment.
 
William T. Francis
Appointment: Jul 9, 1927
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 30, 1927
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Jul 15, 1929
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 17, 1927.
 
Charles E. Mitchell
Appointment: Sep 10, 1930
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Dec 16, 1930. Did not proceed to post in the capacity of Minister Resident/Consul General; took oath of office as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary and proceeded to post, but did not present credentials; left post, Mar 22, 1933, the Government of Liberia having requested his recall, Feb 11, 1933.
 
Lester A. Walton
Appointment: Jul 22, 1935
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 2, 1935
Termination of Mission: Left post, Feb 28, 1946
 
Raphael O’Hara Lanier
Appointment: Feb 13, 1946
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 1, 1946
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 8, 1948
 
Edward R. Dudley
Appointment: Aug 11, 1948
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 18, 1948
Termination of Mission: Promoted to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Mar 2, 1949.
 
Edward R. Dudley
Appointment: Mar 18, 1949
Presentation of Credentials: May 6, 1949
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 15, 1953
 
Jesse D. Locker
Appointment: Jul 22, 1953
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 16, 1953
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Apr 10, 1955
 
Richard Lee Jones
Appointment: May 31, 1955
Presentation of Credentials: Jun 24, 1955
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 24, 1959
 
Elbert G. Mathews
Appointment: Aug 12, 1959
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 30, 1959
Termination of Mission: Left post, May 4, 1962
 
Charles Edward Rhetts
Appointment: Jul 5, 1962
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 7, 1962
Termination of Mission: Left Liberia, Sep 30, 1964
 
Ben H. Brown, Jr.
Appointment: Nov 25, 1964
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 6, 1965
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 17, 1969
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Jan 18, 1965.
 
Samuel Z. Westerfield, Jr.
Appointment: Jul 8, 1969
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 9, 1969
Termination of Mission: Died at post, Jul 19, 1972
 
Melvin L. Manfull
Appointment: Dec 2, 1972
Presentation of Credentials: Dec 22, 1972
Termination of Mission: Left post, Dec 15, 1975
Note: Commissioned during a recess of the Senate; recommissioned after confirmation on Feb 8, 1973.
 
W. Beverly Carter, Jr.
Appointment: Apr 6, 1976
Presentation of Credentials: Apr 23, 1976
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 1, 1979
 
Robert P. Smith
Appointment: Jul 2, 1979
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 6, 1979
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jan 15, 1981
 
William Lacy Swing
Appointment: Jul 18, 1981
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 11, 1981
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jun 10, 1985
 
Edward Joseph Perkins
Appointment: Jul 12, 1985
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 28, 1985
Termination of Mission: Left post, Oct 22, 1986
 
James Keough Bishop
Appointment: Mar 27, 1987
Presentation of Credentials: May 4, 1987
Termination of Mission: Left post Mar 31, 1990
 
Peter Jon de Vos
Appointment: Jun 22, 1990
Presentation of Credentials:
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 27, 1992
Note: Arrived at post, Jun 28, 1990. Had not presented credentials before the overthrow of the Government of Liberia on Sep 11, 1990.
 
Note: Between 1992 and 1999 the following officers served as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim: William H. Twaddell (Sep 1992–Jul 1995), William B. Milam (Nov. 1995–Jan 1999), and Donald K. Petterson (Feb 1999–Aug 1999).
 
Bismark Myrick
Appointment: Jul 7, 1999
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 20, 1999
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 23, 2002
 
John William Blaney
Appointment: Aug 8, 2002
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 3, 2002
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 13, 2005
 
Donald E. Booth
Appointment: June 21, 2005
Presentation of Credentials: Aug 9, 2005
Termination of Mission: 2008
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Liberia's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Sulunteh, Jeremiah

The West African nation of Liberia, which has had close relations with the U.S. since its founding by American former slaves in 1847, has sent a new ambassador to Washington who has played a key role in the nation’s reconstruction after back-to-back civil wars that killed 250,000 people between 1989 and 2003. Former Labor Minister Jeremiah C. Sulunteh, who presented his credentials to President Barack Obama on May 7, 2012, replaces William Bull, Sr., who served as Liberian ambassador starting in August 2010.

 

Jeremiah Sulunteh was born on October 11, 1958, in Gboimu Town, Suacoco, Bong County, Liberia, to Sulunteh Yeibah, a farmer, and his wife, Kanny Bu-Nquoi, now deceased. After completing his secondary education in Suacoco Town, Sulunteh entered the Booker Washington Institute, a vocational school in Kakata, Liberia, where he earned a diploma in Agriculture in 1980. He later earned a B.S. in Economics at Cuttington University in Suacoco in 1988, an M.P.A. at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, in 1994, where his thesis was entitled “The Political Economy of African Development: A Comparative Study of Kenya and Tanzania,” and an M.A. in Economics at York University in Toronto, Canada, in 2001, where he taught economics classes and wrote a thesis titled, “Public Sector Deficits and Macroeconomic Performance: Adjustment, Reform and Growth, the Case of Ghana.” 

 

During his career, Sulunteh has worked as a financial aid advisor at York University, as an accounts representative at the Royal Bank of Canada, as project coordinator for the Friends of Liberia, as an administrative assistant to the Vice President for Administration at Cuttington University, and as a field financial analyst for a Bong County, Liberia, Agricultural Development Project. He has taught Public Finance Administration and Administrative Theory and Practice at the University of Liberia, as well as Economic Development at the Graduate School of Cuttington University, where he served as associate vice president for Planning and Development and then as administrator until 2006.

 

In 2005, Sulunteh ran for Liberia’s vice-presidency on a ticket with Winston Tubman, but the pair did not survive the first round of balloting, and went on to support the eventual winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

 

In 2006, Sulunteh was appointed minister of transport by President Sirleaf, who later named him minister of post & telecommunications, and minister of labor. At the Ministries of Transport and of Post & Telecom, Sulunteh was broadly credited with successfully beginning the reconstruction of Liberia’s infrastructure; while as labor minister he championed labor law reform legislation intended to created “decent workplaces.” Also at the Transport Ministry, he saw to it that an elementary school and a junior high school were built in his hometown so that the children of Gboimu would not have to walk, as he had done, three miles every morning to attend school in Gbondoi.

 

Sulunteh and his wife, Kabeh Sulunteh, have three children. He speaks and writes Kpelle, his native tongue, which is Liberia’s most commonly spoken indigenous language, as well as English, which is the dominant language of government and commerce.

-Matt Bewig

 

Biography (Daily Observer)

Sulunteh Takes Oath of Office Honored by Citizens of His Native Bong County (by Stephen Binda and Marcus N. Malayea, Daily Observer)

Minister Sulunteh Fires Three Employees for Check Fraud (by Vivian N. Cooper, Ministry of Post & Telecommunications)

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Liberia's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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Comments

Mark 4 years ago
What an amazing day. Little old Fort Collins folks mtineeg the VP of Liberia! Good job! I know Kent has mixed emotions about coming home and I can't wait to start hearing some of the stories. To all of you bless you once again. Anna, you will find a way to provide for little Alfred with God's grace. Just your smile I'm sure brought him the gift of joy. I will pray for all of you that you make great progress these next few days and that you all are brought home safely. And yes, I will be blessed to have Kent home safe and sound as well! This has been an amazing trip for him and for me. God truly works in ways we might not even know until much later. Remember that as you leave on Tuesday. With great love, and respect for all of you and all you've done. Lisa
Doubting Thomas 6 years ago
you seem to have skipped lots in your glossing over of what is really happening on liberia. for example how the president was named as one of the people who should be banned from running again yet she refuses toad ere tothat despite your hollow claims of supporting the democratic process. how about despite the fact that liberia is really a us welfare state, the government of sirleaf has given the chinese lucrative mining concessions. what about the fact there her sons hold party o...

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U.S. Ambassador to Liberia

Thomas-Greenfield, Linda
ambassador-image

Linda Thomas-Greenfield serves as the United States Ambassador to Liberia. She was nominated by President George W. Bush in February 2008, confirmed by the Senate on June 4, 2008, and sworn in on July 18, 2008, by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

 
Thomas-Greenfield graduated from Louisiana State University in 1974 with a BA in political science. She also holds a MA in political science from the University of Wisconsin.
 
Thomas-Greenfield taught political science at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA before becoming a career member of the Senior Foreign Service in 1982. In Africa, she served in Nigeria, Gambia, and Kenya. Other assignments include: Jamaica, Pakistan, and Switzerland. Her domestic assignments were in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and the Office of the Director General of the Foreign Service.
 
She served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration from June 2004 to January 2006, followed by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau for African Affairs from January 6, 2006 to July 15, 2008.
 

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