In Summary
  • The United Nations handed responsibility for national security back to the Liberian security forces last year.
  • The biggest shock to the economy during Sirleaf's tenure was the Ebola crisis that hit in 2014.


Liberians go to the polls on Tuesday to elect a new president after 12 years under Africa's first elected female leader, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Here are five points that define the campaign:

Sirleaf unexpectedly swept the vote in 2005 and was re-elected in 2011, and is widely commended for maintaining peace following horrific back-to-back civil wars (1989-2003), which killed an estimated quarter of a million people.

Sirleaf's legacy matters both for the symbolism of her victory and because her vice president for both terms, Joseph Boakai, is a front-runner this year.

He will be judged on his record in her government.

Critics accuse Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, of failing to improve ordinary Liberians' lives and being overly preoccupied with her image abroad in a nation heavily dependent on foreign aid to provide basic services.

Boakai is both campaigning on his record and promising an alternative vision.


Beyond Boakai, Liberians have a diverse choice between George Weah, a footballing icon; two prominent businessmen, Alexander Cummings and Benoni Urey; former central bank governor Mills Jones; or veteran opposition figure Charles Brumskine.

There are some familiar faces from Liberia's bloody past: Weah's running mate Jewel Howard-Taylor is the ex-wife of former dictator Charles Taylor, while warlord-turned-evangelical preacher Prince Johnson is running for president for the second time.

There is a glaring lack in just one area: after two terms of a female president just one woman is aiming for the top job — fashion model-turned-humanitarian MacDella Cooper.


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