Liberia’s Troubled History

  • People have lived in the region for centuries.
  • From 1820, the shape of modern Liberia began when freed slaves from America (to become known as Americo-Liberians) settled in this part of West Africa’s coast.
  • Liberia was declared an independent republic in 1847.
  • 1880-1980 the country experienced ebb and flow of conflict and quiet, as the settler government met more or less opposition from the indigenes.
  • 1980: the growing tensions and animosities between the Americo-Liberian ruling dynasty and the Liberian indigenous peoples, exploded in a coup d’etat, led by a relatively uneducated army sergeant, Samuel Doe. The elected prersident (William Tolbert) and nearly all his cabinet were killed in public execution. The seeds for the present decimation and horror had been sown.
  • 1985: Samuel Doe was “elected” in an overly sham election. But opposition forces were determined to topple him.
  • Late 1989: Liberia was overrun by Charles Taylor who initiated a campaign of unspeakable atrocity. Civilian casualties were enormous; refugees poured into Ivory Coast, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Liberia was beginning to be devsated and reduced to ruins.
  • October 1992: Taylor was in control of more than 90% of the country when he launched an infamous 4-month artillery barrage of the capital, Monrovia.
  • Mid-1994: The protagonists were hammering out one of the now legendary-many-but-short-lived-peace accords. This led to Taylor becoming President in 1995.
  • Monrovia was razed again in April 1996. In late 1996, the Economic Union of West African States sent a peacekeeping force (known as ECOMOG) to initiate another peace.
  • In 1997, after a campaign of overt intimidation, Taylor won a landslide vistory in the elections for Presidency.
  • From 1999 Guinea and Ivory Coast, supporting respective rebel groups, became embroiled in the efforts to topple Taylor, who was supporting the destablisation of these countries ( as well as Sierra Leone). Another round of vicious fighting, with innocent civilians caught everywhere in the midst of it, was in motion.
  • 2001: the UN imposed trade, arms, and travel restrictions on Taylor and his government (springing mainly from the trading of arms and diamonds). Through 2002 and into 2003, the fighting continued whilst the UN continuously extended the sanctions imposed.
  • June 2003: Taylor was indicted by the UN-backed war crimes tribunal in Sierra Leone. By August, his position as president was untenable. He resigned, and sought, and was granted, asylum in Nigeria.
  • September 2003: Thousands of UN peace-keeping troops began to arrive.
  • October 14th. 2003: Charles Gyude Bryant was sworn in as Liberia’s Head of State using the title “Chairman” with a promise of a fresh start and an end to 14 years of conflict.
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