Liberia Geopolitics

Liberia Geopolitics

According to itypeusa, Liberia is the only country in West Africa that has never been colonized. In 1822 the private company American Colonization Society (Acs) undertook to transfer a group of former black slaves, freed in the USA, in Africa, along the coasts of that land that would become Liberia. It was proclaimed a republic by the Free Americans in 1847, anticipating the independence of the neighboring Ivory Coast, Guinea and Sierra Leone by more than a century. Free Americans, a strong minority of the then newly formed Republic of Liberia, imposed themselves by stifling the rights of the native population, adopted a presidential political system and approved a constitution modeled on that of the United States.

This experience was not enough to make Liberia a politically and economically stable country. After the long dominance of the free-American element and the True Whig party, in the late 1980s, also following the worsening of the economic crisis, the country was the scene of two bloody civil wars, respectively from 1989 to 1996 and from 1999 to 2003. The complexity of the Liberian political scenario reflects the instability of the entire region. The mutual interference that characterizes relations between Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia has allowed the various rebel groups to obtain economic and military support from the regimes of the neighboring states and has favored the illegal market for diamonds, sold in exchange for weapons and cash to be committed. in conflicts.

Charles Taylor was the undisputed political protagonist of Liberia’s civil wars. In 1989, as head of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (Npfl), Taylor entered the Ivory Coast border into the Liberian county of Nimba and overthrew the regime of Samuel Doe, the country’s first indigenous president, who later came to the presidency. to a coup d’etat in 1980. In a short time Taylor took control of a large part of the country until, after six years of fighting, he obtained 75% of the preferences in the presidential elections of 1997. The polls came after a peace agreement signed between the forces of the country, thanks to the intermediation of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), the United Nations, the European Union and the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union). The establishment of a coalition government, however, did not heal the country’s disastrous economic situation, nor its political one. Taylor, instead of opting for a democratic consolidation of Liberian society, took advantage of power to eliminate the leaders of the political formations of the government, establish a regime de facto and to pursue a strategy of regional destabilization, which has materialized above all with the support offered to the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of Sierra Leone. Taylor then repeatedly got involved in the civil wars that broke out in neighboring countries: Sierra Leone in the early 2000s, then Guinea, arousing protests from the international community, Ghana and Nigeria.

Meanwhile, internal tensions worsened: in 1999 the second Liberian civil war broke out. In 2001 the United Nations Security Council imposed an embargo on arms exports to Liberia to punish Taylor, who was also involved in the trafficking of so-called ‘blood diamonds’. In 2003, after a new peace agreement signed in Accra (Ghana) and brokered by the international community, the president was induced to resign and take refuge in exile in Nigeria. Accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, he had to appear before the Sierra Leone Special Court in 2006 and in 2007 he was transferred to The Hague, where he was tried and sentenced by the International Criminal Court.

With Taylor’s exile, a transitional government led by Gyudeh Bryant was established in Liberia. At the same time, the US intervened militarily to support the launch of a democratic process and to avoid new clashes. US troops remained in Liberia for two months, until the United Nations approved the peacekeeping missionUnmil, with an international contingent of 15,000 units (today reduced to approximately 7,500). The 2005 presidential election was won by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, leader of the Unity Party, who beat George Weah, former soccer player, idol of a large part of the Liberian population and head of the Congress for Democracy and Change in the ballot. Johnson-Sirleaf, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2011, was the first woman to hold the office of president of an African nation. Its government action, which focuses above all on the reduction of poverty (in 2007 about 63.8% of the population lived below the poverty line), the fight against corruption, the reconstruction of the civil and social fabric of the country, the creation new jobs and better provision of services to the population, it is strongly supported by international organizations. This also depends on the ties the president has with the United Nations and the World Bank: Johnson-Sirleaf has worked there for years. In this context we can read the extraordinary cancellation of the debt of 1.2 billion dollars established by the Paris Club in September 2010 and the help of both the United States – which in 2011 alone brought about 89 million dollars to Liberia -, both of international organizations, such as the extended credit facility of 78.9 million dollars, of which 11.3 million are immediately available, granted in November 2012 by the IMF. The extended credit facility it was extended until February 2016. Following the Ebola epidemic, the IMF also guaranteed further debt relief for 36.5 billion dollars. The too slow progress, however, undermined the popularity of the president, who in November 2010 discouraged her own executive and proceeded to a government reshuffle. The goal was to face the elections of October 2011, in which the president won despite some difficulties. Three recent agreements that the government has signed with important foreign groups in the oil and mining sectors are significant for Liberia’s development prospects: the American Chevron, which was given permission to explore the seabed in search of oil reserves; the Indonesian group Sinar Mas which has an investment plan of 1, $ 6 billion in the palm oil industry. Finally, the Luxembourg steel giant Arcelor Mittal signed a plan in 2005 to exploit the iron mines in the city of Putu. In November 2015, the United States ended sanctions against Liberia initiated 11 years ago against then-President Charles Taylor (now in prison for war crimes).

Liberia, with 4809 deaths, is the state with the most deaths caused by the Ebola epidemic, yet another humanitarian emergency that has hit Africa since 2014 and which has infected about 28,600 people causing more than 11,300 victims.

In addition to the late international response, the spread of the virus has been facilitated by a health situation that is nothing short of disastrous: with about 1 doctor per 100,000 residents, and 0.8 hospital beds per 1,000, the country has one of the worst statistics of the African continent, therefore also of the world. The tragedy hit society and the national economy hard, so much so that GDP growth went from 8.7% in 2013 to 0.69% in 2014 and stood at 0.87% for 2015. On data heavily contributes to restrictions on travel and trade to and from the country. On 3 September 2015, the WHO announced the end of the epidemic in Liberia. The end of the contagion had already been declared on 9 May last, only to then recur in new cases.

Liberia Geopolitics