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Liberia Politics

Political System of Liberia

The area that is today Liberia is originally inhabited by 16 different people. To the east and northeast there were spoken men - including the Mandingo's. After the arrival of the Portuguese, the mandingoos came to play a more important role. They spread throughout the country as traders and craftsmen. They were the main source of the spread of Islam in the country. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how LR can stand for Liberia.

When talking about colonialism in Africa, there are few who remember that the United States also had its share in the division of the continent. In 1865, Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery in the United States - as part of a weakening of the South that the North states waged war on. But several decades before this, the freed slaves had posed a social problem for the slave-owning landlords in the south. To solve this, they began to "repatriate" the freed slaves - sending them back to Africa. The landlords had a notion that an African should feel at home wherever he was sent to in Africa. They therefore planned to send the freed slaves to the British colony of Sierra Leone.

In 1821, for this purpose, the American Colonization Society purchased a strip of land from Leone and founded the city of Monrovia. It was named after the then North American President James Monroe.

But most freed slaves chose to stay in the United States, and only 20,000 former slaves traveled to Africa. The locals did not take kindly to these colonists of a new type, who both spoke the languages ​​of Europeans and practiced their religion. Under the protection of North American warships, they settled on the coast and acquired the best lands. For a long time they refused to have contact with the "rain forest negroes", whom they considered "wild". Even today, only 15% of the population speak English and are Christians.

In 1841, Washington christened the area of ​​Liberia, gave it a constitution drawn up at Harvard University, and appointed the first African governor, Joseph J. Roberts. In July 1847, a Liberian congress representing only the North American immigrants decided to declare the country independent of Roberts as president, as well as a constitution and flag similar to that of the United States.

"Love and freedom brought us here," proclaims the Liberian coat of arms, but for the country's indigenous people, independence did not bring much freedom. For decades, only the landowners had the right to vote. The 45,000 descendants of the former North American slaves formed the core of the local ruling class and were closely linked to international capital. One of the most important export products - the natural rubber - was controlled by the North American companies Firestone and Goodrich, which in 1926 obtained a concession on the extraction for the next 99 years. Something similar happened to the oil, iron and diamonds. The opposition to these economic and social conditions repeatedly triggered US invasions on the pretext of "protecting democracy".

The discovery of the vast mineral riches in the country's underground and the use of the Liberian flag over the world merchant fleet triggered high economic growth, which in the early 1960s was called a "miracle". But the "miracle" only benefited the Americanized population, which in turn experienced significant prosperity.

Political stability was shaken in 1979 when price increases on rice triggered riots and demonstrations. A year later, Lieutenant Samuel Doe, William Tolbert's regime fell. This was executed with other members of his government. The political parties were banned and the constitution put into effect.

In 1980, the Governing Council declared that it would launch a democratic opening, and this paved the way for a loan agreement to be signed with the IMF.

The fall in exports, the rise in unemployment, the reduction of public and private wages and the rise in indebtedness abroad threw the country into a crisis of large dimensions. The dissatisfaction of the population increased, and in 1980-89 the Doe regime thwarted nine coup attempts.

 

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