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Police 6 Jan fired tear gas and water cannon in capital Monrovia to disperse supporters of prominent critic of President Weah and opposition figure Henry Costa protesting against govt and deepening economic crisis. Immigration authorities 11 Jan questioned Costa, accusing him of having forged his travel documents to return to country in Dec ahead of planned protest. Costa reportedly left country 12 Jan. Sierra Leone’s authorities 15 Jan detained him at Freetown airport after Monrovia requested his extradition, but Costa reportedly left Sierra Leone to U.S. next day. Govt 17 Jan declared Costa fugitive. Costa next day pledged to return to country in May.
Prominent critic of President Weah and opposition figure Henry Costa returned to country ahead of anti-govt protest planned for 30 Dec. Hundreds of supporters 19 Dec welcomed Costa in capital Monrovia. In last-minute move, Costa postponed protest after govt said it would not be able to provide security and international observers recommended delay; Costa 30 Dec rejected govt proposal to move protest to 5 Jan, said protest could take place 6 Jan.
As part of effort to overhaul Central Bank after several scandals damaged institution’s reputation in recent months, President Weah 8 Nov appointed former head of country’s electricity regulator Jolue Aloysius Tarlue as Central Bank governor.
Police 10 Oct closed radio station critical of President Weah, Roots FM, accusing it of inciting violence, and used tear gas to disperse people protesting against move in capital Monrovia, reportedly arresting four. Central Bank Governor Nathaniel Patray resigned 24 Oct amid investigations over his alleged role in misallocation of state funds. Hundreds of students 15 Oct protested in capital Monrovia to demand govt pay teachers’ salary arrears; protest turned violent, several students reportedly injured.
President Weah 12 Sept endorsed creation of war crimes court and called on national assembly to take necessary steps toward its establishment.
Opposition election win continued to fuel violence. After victory of opposition candidate Darius Dillon in 31 July by-election in Montserrado county triggered clashes that day between supporters of ruling Congress for Democratic Change and opposition coalition, clashes flared again 17 Aug and ruling party supporters assaulted opposition candidate Telia Urey. Justice ministry and police same day launched investigation. UN and regional bloc Economic Community of West African States 19 Aug deplored violence. U.S. and EU member states France, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and UK 20 Aug condemned electoral violence and attacks on opposition candidate.
In capital Monrovia, electoral commission 31 July released preliminary results of by-election in Montserrado county pointing to victory of opposition candidate Darius Dillon of Liberty Party; announcement triggered clashes same day between opposition activists and supporters of ruling party Congress for Democratic Change, fourteen injured. Hundreds same day staged anti-govt protest in Monrovia against alleged corruption and economic mismanagement under President Weah, prompting police to use tear gas and arrest five.
Thousands demonstrated 7 June in Monrovia to protest inter alia corruption and country’s economic decline, with some protesters calling President Weah “traitor”. Council of Patriots, coalition of opposition parties, trade unions and civil society organisations, which organised protest, same day circulated petition accusing govt of misusing public funds, violating press freedoms, and failing to adequately fund health and education programs, 9 June gave govt one month to address their concerns.
Coalition of opposition parties Council of Patriots called for protest 7 June to demand that President Weah “resign or find a solution to the appalling economic situation”. Weah 14 May met with Council of Patriots’ leaders, no compromise reached. UN envoy for West Africa Mohamed Ibn Chambas visited capital Monrovia 24-25 May to try to mediate.
Three former Central Bank officials 4 March appeared at Monrovia City court, were charged with criminal conspiracy, economic sabotage and misuse of public money following probe into missing banknotes.
Two central bank officials including son of ex-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Charles Sirleaf, were detained 28 Feb in connection with $104mn intended for central bank that allegedly went missing.
Violence marred campaign for 20 Nov senatorial by-elections in Montserrado district thirteen and Sinoe County. Supporters of ruling Coalition for Democratic Change and opposition Unity Party 17 Nov clashed in Montserrado’s thirteenth district, one reportedly killed; police 18 Nov said incidents left four wounded and no one killed. Electoral commission 23 Nov said independent candidate Edward Papay Flomo had won by-elections in Montserrado district; same day delayed release of final results for Sinoe county due to allegations of ballot stuffing; 26 Nov said ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) candidate Augustine Chea had won vote in Sinoe county.
Fifteen people, including former Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks and son of former President Sirleaf, banned from leaving country 19 Sept as part of investigation into disappearance of $104mn intended for central bank. Thousands 24 Sept protested in capital Monrovia to demand thieves return money.
Special Presidential Committee constituted mid-April to probe into NGO Global Witness’s late March allegations of corruption involving govt officials, national oil company NOCAL and U.S. oil company ExxonMobil 16 May submitted initial report to President Weah.
President Weah 17 April formed five-member Special Presidential Committee and gave it two weeks to submit initial report and make recommendations following NGO Global Witness’s allegations late March of corruption involving govt officials, national oil company NOCAL and U.S. oil company ExxonMobil.
UN peacekeeping mission (UNMIL) 30 March withdrew last remaining personnel after fifteen years’ presence.
George Weah sworn in as president 22 Jan. Ruling Unity Party 14 Jan said it had expelled several members including outgoing President Johnson Sirleaf, whom party leaders accuse of meddling in presidential elections.
Following opposition Liberty Party claim that 10 Oct first-round presidential election was marred by irregularities, Supreme Court 7 Dec said it had not found sufficient evidence of fraud to halt process. In 26 Dec run-off vote former footballer George Weah beat VP Boakai with 61.5% of votes to 38.5%.
After third-placed opposition Liberty Party claimed 10 Oct first-round presidential election was marred by irregularities, election commission 24 Nov rejected fraud allegations, saying irregularities did not alter result. Liberty Party 26 Nov said it would take its complaint to Supreme Court, potentially further delaying run-off vote initially scheduled for early Nov.
In first round of presidential election 10 Oct, Congress for Democratic Change candidate and former footballer George Weah won 38.4% of vote and ruling Unity Party candidate VP Boakai won 28.8%, pushing election to run-off 7 Nov. Third-placed Liberty Party claimed vote marred by “irregularities” and 23 Oct complained of fraud. Unity Party 29 Oct supported legal challenge, claiming “massive systematic irregularities and fraud” and accusing party member President Sirleaf of interfering with election by meeting privately with election officials before vote; Sirleaf 30 Oct said meetings did not prejudice vote. Supreme Court 31 Oct instructed Liberty Party and elections commission to file briefs by 2 Nov, potentially delaying 7 Nov run-off.
After electoral commission disqualified several candidates running in Oct presidential and legislative elections based on Code of Conduct, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor 11 July said that only Supreme Court has legal authority to do so. Campaigning started 31 July.
National Elections Commission (NEC) chairman appeared before Senate 22 June to explain largescale irregularities in final voter roll for Oct 2017 general elections; said misplaced names against voters’ photographs due to “human error”, could concern 0.6% of voters but NEC working to correct mistakes.
Supreme Court 3 March approved Code of Conduct bill, signed into law by President Sirleaf in 2014, which could bar some candidates from contesting presidential election in Oct as it stipulates govt officials must resign at least two years before vote to be eligible candidates.
Following NGO Global Witness’s mid-May allegations of bribery against govt officials and British company Sable Mining, grand jury 8 June indicted Sable Mining CEO in connection with allegations; CEO denied charges. After thirteen years UN peacekeeping mission (UNMIL) 30 June handed over responsibility for security to govt.
Govt 9 May said UN Mission in Liberia will transfer its responsibilities to national security forces as part of drawdown due to be completed June 2016, but will remain in country to help maintain peace. NGO Global Witness 11 May published report highlighting bribes British company Sable Mining allegedly paid to officials in Liberia and Guinea to obtain licenses: govt opened probe into allegations; senior officials including ruling Unity Party chairman and parliament speaker arrested 25 May, immediately released on bail.
Political tensions grew as opposition Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) 15 Feb threatened legal action against govt for alleged arbitrary detention of party leader Simeon Freeman. Police 8 Feb barricaded Freeman’s home and threatened him over rumours he accused govt of creating death squad to kill ten people, mainly politicians. Police 29 Feb fired tear gas to disperse crowd demanding release of activist Vandalark Patricks.
Final two Ebola patients discharged 3 Dec from hospital but tensions within communities over virus persisted: govt 14 Dec reported some seventeen suspected Ebola patients missing after attack on treatment centre in Monrovia. Three Ivoirian citizens arrested 15 Dec in refugee camp in Liberia, on charges of recruiting fighters in connection with 2 Dec attack on Ivoirian military base.
U.S. 12 Nov lifted sanctions against govt, citing advances in democracy promotion, orderly development of political, administrative and economic institutions.
Govt 12 July reported seven Ebola cases, one death over previous three weeks amid disease’s resurgence in neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone. Preparations for UNMIL drawdown continued, UN SRSG for West Africa 2 July reiterated organisation will continue to support country after drawdown.
Senate elections held 20 Dec following several delays; largely peaceful, low turnout; some instances of pre-election violence early-Dec in Monrovia, riot police sent to polling stations. Preliminary results showed George Weah win over president’s son Robert Sirleaf. President Johnson Sirleaf 4 Dec declared ban on rallies and mass gatherings over fears of Ebola spread; court 7 Dec lifted ban following petition by Senatorial candidates. UN 15 Dec announced extension of UNMIL mission to Sept 2015; mandate adjusted to focus on civilian protection, humanitarian assistance, justice and security sector reform.
Ebola epidemic slowed, but cases continued, food supply affected. President Johnson Sirleaf 13 Nov announced end of national state of emergency, 16 Nov appointed new ministers, including changes in ministries of health, education, public works.
Ebola epidemic continued, with 4,249 confirmed cases as of 15 Oct; World Bank 8 Oct estimated impact on Liberia’s economy in 2014 could reach $66mn. Some 350 of 4,000 promised U.S. troops currently deployed. Govt criticised for turning Ebola crisis into governance crisis following President Sirleaf’s call for constitutional revisions to give executive vastly greater power. Justice Minister Christiana Tah 6 Oct resigned citing Sirleaf administration’s slow progress on corruption and lack of rule of law, accused her of blocking Justice department’s independent investigations.
Authorities 4 Sept postponed Oct senatorial elections to Dec amid Ebola outbreak; President Sirleaf 13 Sept dismissed 10 govt officials for failing to return home to fight epidemic; Information Minister Lewis Brown 22 Sept warned country could relapse into conflict. World Bank warned of impact to economy; human rights advocates reported growing restrictions to media freedom; U.S. President Obama 16 Sept announced 3,000 troops, 17 treatment centres, health training. Martina Johnson, ex-commander of rebel National Patriotic Front of Liberia, arrested in Belgium 18 Sept, charged with international war crimes committed during civil war.
Violence erupted in Monrovia following Ebola outbreak: armed men 16 Aug raided West Point slum clinic, released patients; authorities 19 Aug imposed lockdown on slum, triggering riots; 1 killed, 4 wounded in reported police gunfire; lockdown lifted 30 Aug. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf 6 Aug declared state of emergency; 26 Aug dismissed ministers and govt officials refusing to return home to fight epidemic. Postponement of Oct senatorial elections under consideration.
Rioters 3-4 July attacked iron ore mine in Yepeka, Nimba County, held staff hostage, shot and injured several security forces. Govt 27 July closed all but major border crossings due to ongoing Ebola outbreak, restricted public gatherings.
House of Representatives 20 June announced investigation into corruption allegations against President Sirleaf by former National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) president. Court 17 June sentenced 13 mercenaries to life imprisonment for June 2012 killing of 7 UN peacekeepers in Côte d’Ivoire.
Civil Law Court 21 May revoked license of 15 political parties for violating constitution, party registration law.
In report to UNSC, UNSG Ban 26 March said follow- through on corruption cases still weak. Executive Protection Service director 4 March said Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram using Liberia as “hideout”, called on National Assembly to reinforce security.
Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Dee Ziankan appointed head of army 11 Feb, first Liberian appointed to post since civil war.
UNSC 10 Dec extended arms embargo imposed in 2003, extended mandate of Panel of Experts. Fayah Gbollie, former presidential candidate and Free Democratic Party (FDP) leader, found murdered in home 6 Dec.
Bong County residents 4 Nov protested outside launch of national consultation process on oil exploration. President Johnson Sirleaf met with visiting U.S. congressional delegation to assess UN work in Liberia; 25 Nov said youth unemployment major threat to peace and security.
UN SRSG Karen Landgren 3 Oct reported police law enforcement capabilities still weak, progress in fight against corruption slow; police called for international donor support to reinforce logistical capabilities. Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) 6 Oct published list of 22 officials who have “deliberately refused to cooperate” including defence minister Brownie Samukai, Police Director Chris Massaquoi. Protesters taking part in “Ellen Step Down” campaign, including campaign leader Mulbah Morlu, Vice-Chairman of Congress for Democratic Change, arrested 9 Oct for planning mass protest, charged with criminal conspiracy, sedition.
Police Inspector General 5 Sept rejected Aug Human Rights Watch report highlighting widespread police corruption and abuses. UNSC 18 Sept renewed UNMIL mandate for additional year. Senate 11 Sept passed Oil Reform Bill. Special Court for Sierra Leone 26 Sept rejected former president Charles Taylor’s appeal, upheld 50-year prison sentence.
Opposition Congress for Democratic Change chairman George Solo 12 Aug announced party would stage mass protests against President Sirleaf-Johnson in Jan 2014. Sirleaf-Johnson 6 Aug dismissed Deputy Director of Operations of Drug Enforcement Agency for “serious violations of policies and ethics of govt”. Human Rights Watch 22 Aug said police acting as “predators”, engaged in criminal conduct. Former leader of rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) leader Sekou Damate Conneh late Aug said group received support from Guinea govt during civil war. Authorities 20 Aug jailed FrontPageAfrica editor Rodney Sieh after he said unable to pay $1.5mn fine for libelling former Agriculture Minister J. Chris Toe.
Opposition protested President Sirleaf Johnson’s nomination of Jerome Kokoya as next chairman of Elections Commission on basis of Kokoya’s membership of ruling Unity Party. UN mission (UNMIL) 14 March restated commitment to “providing maximum security” despite troop reduction. Defence Ministry refuted claims attack in Côte d’Ivoire attributable to gunmen from Liberia (see Côte d’Ivoire). UNHCR 19 March closed Dougee refugee camp following repatriation of over 5,200 Ivorian refugees.
President Johnson-Sirleaf 19 Jan said Liberia prepared to send military platoon to join ECOWAS peacekeeping mission in Mali. Defence Minister Bernie Samukai 8 Jan announced troop withdrawal from Côte d’Ivoire border by 13 Jan. Former president Taylor 22 Jan began appeal against war crimes conviction at ICC.
President Johnson Sirleaf’s office 5 Dec announced former opposition presidential candidate George Weah to lead national reconciliation process. ECOWAS president 19 Dec highlighted need for security along border with CDI, praised coordination efforts between countries. UN panel of experts on Liberia 17 Dec reported over 10,000 Sierra Leoneans illegally mining diamonds in Liberia.
Thousands of opposition supporters 5 Nov rallied in Monrovia to mark one-year anniversary of deadly police shooting during 2011 elections. Prominent human rights lawyer 26 Nov called for resignation of President Johnson-Sirleaf for appointing sons to key govt positions in violation of constitution.
President Johnson Sirleaf 18 Oct met with CDI President Ouattara, announced joint military operation along border; security forces same day arrested warlord Bobby Julu for suspected role in CDI conflict. Govt refuted UN expert report claims that several Ivorian rebel training bases established in east.
UN peacekeeping force (UNMIL) 21 Sept expressed serious concern over reported “mercenary” activities at Grand Gedeh County refugee camps, 20 Sept transferred 3 combat helicopters to Liberia-Côte d’Ivoire border. UNSC 17 Sept extended UNMIL mission to Sept 2013, authorised troop reduction, police increase. Cross-border illegal activities, insecurity continued along border with CDI: court 11 Sept charged 6 Ivorians with murder, mercenary activities, rape, arson, illegal possession of firearms, theft; Liberia/ CDI 14 Sept partially reopened border. UNSG Ban 11 Sept said govt “lacks resolve to stamp out blood-diamond trade”, USAID 13 Sept threatened to stop funding Kimberley Process.
UNSG Ban 15 Aug said overall security remains “stable albeit fragile”, main security concerns include civil unrest, public disorder, violence against women and girls, further expressed “extreme concern” regarding continued instability along Côte d’Ivoire border. Security forces 14 Aug arrested 6 suspected of 12-13 Aug attacks on military outposts in Côte d’Ivoire.
Govt early July launched first large-scale military operation since war ended in effort to target mercenaries using country as base to launch raids into Côte d’Ivoire; President Johnson Sirleaf 12 July said could soon reopen border. Opposition party Congress for Democratic Change 7 July convened meeting attended by 5 political parties, including ruling Unity Party, to discuss need to reform electoral laws and constitution to avoid suspicion during elections.
President Johnson Sirleaf 9 June closed border with Côte d’Ivoire, 14 June said working with Côte d’Ivoire President Ouattara to deal with deadly border attacks. Govt 14 June announced orders to arrest 10 Liberians and Ivorians in connection with attacks; court 21 June ordered extradition of 41 Ivorians for suspected role in 2011 post-election violence.
Govt 28 April launched first of 5 regional justice and security hubs in Gbarnga. Senate 4 May pulled out of joint legislative group set up to probe national oil company NOCAL, review oil production sharing agreements. Special Court for Sierra Leone 30 May sentenced former President Taylor to 50 years in jail for war crimes, crimes against humanity.
Special Court for Sierra Leone 26 April found former President Taylor guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, provoking mixed reactions in Monrovia as many still loyal to Taylor, others still awaiting justice for Liberia civil war crimes. Robert Sirleaf, son of President Sirleaf, 2 April filed $11 mn libel suit against daily The Independent following accusations of nepotism over appointment as chairman of national oil company NOCAL by President Sirleaf late March.