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Liberia: Liberia Government Profile 2012






Liberia Government Profile 2012

Domestic security and the political environment have improved. Two key areas must be handled with care to ensure political stability and preserve the remarkable achievements made since the end of the civil war. The first is the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up to investigate gross human rights violations, war crimes and economic crimes committed during the civil war. The commission’s final report presented to the legislature in June 2009, recommends that the President Johnson-Sirleaf, and 49 other officials be banned from holding office for 30 years. It said another group, including Senator Prince Johnson, former leader of the Independent National Patriotic Front for Liberia, should face a trial before an extraordinary criminal tribunal. While some people, especially civil societies, supported the commission findings, those indicted, their associates and others rejected the report. The president has signed into law a Joint Resolution of the Legislature, suspending all action on the commission report to allow for more consultation.

The second issue is the preparations for the October 2011 presidential and legislative elections in which President Johnson-Sirleaf has announced she will run for a second term. The legislature has passed several constitutional amendments relating to elections, but these must be approved by a national referendum. A bill to redraw electoral constituencies on the basis of 2008 national census figures has generated much tension. The president vetoed the bill due to the huge financial implications of carrying it out. Because they delayed the bill, the elections could now be derailed, with potential adverse consequences.

Two by-elections were held in February and November 2009 to fill seats vacated after the deaths of two senators. The November vote was reported to be marred by allegations of fraud and violence at the polling station. The National Election Commission (NEC) gave assurances that such problems will not reoccur in future elections.

Amid complaints of fragile security, poorly performing judiciary and national security agencies, with inadequate infrastructure and equipment, the government is pursuing justice reforms. The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), with partners, provide significant military and police operational support as the new armed forces and national police, estimated to number 2 000 and 3 800 respectively in 2009, cannot handle the high level of crime and maintain stability. Liberia’s national security officials are expected to take full operational responsibilities from 2012. In 2009, the government established a Law Reform Commission with the mandate to propose nationwide law reform. Other issues threatening political stability include corruption, high unemployment, land disputes, violent protests in many rubber plantations and violent crime, especially armed robbery and sexual violence.

Liberia has made progress fighting endemic corruption in the public sector. Legislation has been passed and people have been charged with corruption. The LEITI Act and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission Act have been enacted into law and the Anti-Corruption Commission established. The draft Code of Conduct Bill, Freedom of Information Bill and Asset Freeze Bill are before the legislature. Several government officials including ministers and senior managers of government agencies have been suspended, reassigned or dismissed for corruption or financial offences. Liberia’s global ranking in the Transparency International, 2009 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) moved up to 97 out of 180 countries from number 138 in the preceding year. Among sub-Saharan African countries, Liberia is 13th out of 42 countries, up from 30th position in 2008.


Government type: 


Administrative divisions: 

15 counties; Bomi, Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Lofa, Margibi, Maryland, Montserrado, Nimba, River Cess, River Gee, Sinoe


26 July 1847

National holiday: 

Independence Day, 26 July (1847)



Legal system: 

dual system of statutory law based on Anglo-American common law for the modern sector and customary law based on unwritten tribal practices for indigenous sector; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch: 

bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate (30 seats; note - number of seats changed in 11 October 2005 elections; members elected by popular vote to serve nine-year terms) and the House of Representatives (64 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms) elections: Senate - last held on 11 October 2005 (next to be held in October 2011); House of Representatives - last held on 11 October 2005 (next to be held in October 2011) election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - COTOL 7, NPP 4, CDC 3, LP 3, UP 3, APD 3, other 7; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CDC 15, LP 9, COTOL 8, UP 8, APD 5, NPP 4, other 15; note - the UP now holds 13 out of 30 senate seats and 16 out of 64 house seats following a merger with several smaller parties in 2009 note: junior senators - those who received the second most votes in each county in the 11 October 2005 election - will only serve a six-year first term because the Liberian constitution mandates staggered Senate elections to ensure continuity of government; all senators will be eligible for nine-year terms thereafter

Judicial branch: 

Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders : 

Alliance for Peace and Democracy or APD [Togba-na TIPOTEH]; Coalition for the Transformation of Liberia or COTOL [H. Varney SHERMAN]; Congress for Democratic Change or CDC [George WEAH]; Liberty Party or LP [Charles BRUMSKINE]; National Patriotic Party or NPP [Roland MASSAQUOI]; Unity Party or UP [Ellen JOHNSON SIRLEAF]

Political pressure groups and leaders: 

other: demobilized former military officers

International organization participation: 


Flag description: 

11 equal horizontal stripes of red (top and bottom) alternating with white, a white five-pointed star appears on a blue square in the upper hoist-side corner; the stripes symbolize the signatories of the Liberian Declaration of Independence; the blue square represents the African mainland, and the star represents the freedom granted to the ex-slaves; according to the constitution, the blue color signifies liberty, justice, and fidelity, the white color purity, cleanliness, and guilelessness, and the red color steadfastness, valor, and fervor note: the design is based on the US flag