President of Liberia
President of the
Republic of Liberia
Coat of arms of Liberia
Style Madam President
Residence Executive Mansion Term length Six years, renewable once Inaugural holder Joseph Jenkins Roberts
January 3, 1848
Formation Constitution of Liberia
July 26, 1847
Salary US$90,000 annually Website emansion.gov.lr/ Liberia
This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
- Constitution of 1986
- Constitution of 1847
The President of the Republic of Liberia is the head of state and head of government of Liberia. The president serves as the leader of the executive branch and as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia.
Prior to the independence of Liberia in 1847, executive power in the Commonwealth of Liberia was held by the Governor of Liberia, who was appointed by the American Colonization Society. The 1847 Constitution transferred the executive powers of the governorship to the presidency, which was largely modeled on the presidency of the United States.
From 1847 until 1980, the presidency was exclusively held by Americo-Liberians, the original American settlers of Liberia and their descendants. The original two-party system, with the Republican Party and the True Whig Party, ended in 1878, when the election of Anthony W. Gardiner marked the beginning of 102 years of single-party rule by the True Whigs. Following a coup d'état by disgruntled army officers led by Samuel Doe in 1980, the presidency was vacated until the election of Doe in the 1985 general election. After the overthrow of Doe in 1990, the presidency was again vacated for seven years during the First Liberian Civil War and again for two years following the conclusion of the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003.
Under the 1986 Constitution, the president is directly elected by eligible voters to a six-year term, which may be renewed once. Overall, 22 individuals have served as president. On January 16, 2006, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was sworn in as the twenty-fourth and current president, making her the first elected female president in Africa.
Following the establishment of the Commonwealth of Liberia in 1838, executive power was vested in the Governor of Liberia, who was appointed and served at the pleasure of the American Colonization Society. The first governor, Thomas Buchanan, served from 1838 until his death in 1841. He was succeeded by Joseph Jenkins Roberts, the first black governor of Liberia. Upon independence in 1847, Roberts was elected as the first president of Liberia.
The 1847 Constitution denied suffrage to the indigenous population by requiring voters to own real estate. As a result, the presidency was exclusively held by Americo-Liberians until 1980, when a military coup led by Samuel Doe, an ethnic Krahn, overthrew and assassinated President William Tolbert.
The presidency was vacant from 1980 to 1986, with executive power held by Doe as the head of the People's Redemption Council. Doe was later elected president in the 1985 general election, making him the first president outside of the Americo-Liberian elite. Doe was later overthrown and executed in 1990 following the commencement of the First Liberian Civil War, during which the presidency remained vacant.
Following the 1997 general election, Charles Taylor held the presidency until his resignation on August 11, 2003 as part of a peace deal to end the Second Liberian Civil War. His successor, Moses Blah, ceded executive power on October 13 of that year to Gyude Bryant, the Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia. The presidency was resumed on January 16, 2006 following the 2005 election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the first female president.
Powers and Duties
The presidency of Liberia is largely modeled on the presidency of the United States.
The 1986 Constitution gives the president the power to appoint all cabinet ministers, judges, ambassadors, sheriffs, county officials and military officers with the advice and consent of the Senate. Additionally, the president has the power to dismiss all appointees from office at his or her discretion. The president may also grant pardons or revoke sentences and fines. The president conducts all matters of foreign policy, though any treaties or international agreements must be ratified by both houses of the Legislature. Furthermore, the president serves as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia.
The Constitution also grants the president the power to declare a state of emergency during times of war or civil unrest and suspend civil liberties during the emergency as necessary, with the exception of habeas corpus. Within seven days of the declaration, the president must state to the Legislature the reasons for the declaration, which both houses must then approve by a two-thirds majority. Otherwise, the president must repeal the state of emergency.
The president must sign all legislation passed by the House of Representatives and Senate. The president may choose to veto any legislation, which may be overturned by a two-thirds majority in both houses. Additionally, the president may exercise a pocket veto by refusing to sign legislation when the end of the twenty-day deadline for signing the bill falls during a recess of the legislature. The president may extend a legislative session past its adjournment date or call a special extraordinary session when he or she deems it necessary in the national interest.
The president delivers the oath of office to all senators and representatives following his or her own swearing in before a joint session of both houses. The president must also give an annual report to the Legislature on the state of the country.
To be eligible for office under the current Constitution, a presidential candidate must:
- be a natural born citizen of Liberia;
- be at least thirty-five years old;
- own real property valued at least $25,000;
- have resided in Liberia for at least ten years.
Additionally, the president may not reside in the same county as the Vice President of Liberia.
Term and election
Under the original 1847 Constitution, the president was elected to a two-year term, which was increased to four years on May 7, 1907. No term limits were placed on the presidency.
Currently, the president is elected by popular vote to a six-year term and is limited to two terms. Under the 1986 Constitution, presidential elections utilize a two-round system, wherein a second round of voting is held between the two candidates with the highest number of votes if no single candidate obtains a majority in the first round. Each term begins and ends on the first January 16 after presidential elections are held. At the time of their inauguration, each president is required under the Constitution to take a presidential oath promising to preserve and defend the Constitution and faithfully execute the law. The oath is administered by the Chief Justice of Liberia in front of a joint session of the Legislature.
The President of Liberia resides and works out of the Executive Mansion in the capital of Monrovia. Located across the street from the Capitol Building in the Capitol Hill district, the current building was constructed during the presidency of William Tubman.
On July 26, 2006, a fire broke out on the fourth floor of the Executive Mansion during Independence Day celebrations, causing significant damage to the structure. As a result, the Office of the President has been temporarily relocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, located next to the Executive Mansion.
List of Presidents of Liberia
No. President Took office Left office Party Term
Vice President 1 Joseph Jenkins Roberts
January 3, 1848 January 7, 1856 Nonpartisan 1.
Nathaniel Brander 2.
Anthony D. Williams 3.
Stephen Allen Benson 2 Stephen Allen Benson
January 7, 1856 January 4, 1864 Nonpartisan 5.
Beverly Page Yates 6.
Daniel Bashiel Warner 8.
3 Daniel Bashiel Warner
January 4, 1864 January 6, 1868 Republican 9.
James M. Priest 10.
4 James Spriggs Payne
January 6, 1868 January 3, 1870 Republican 11.
Joseph Gibson 5 Edward James Roye
January 3, 1870 October 26, 1871 True Whig 12.
James Skivring Smith 6 James Skivring Smith
October 26, 1871 January 1, 1872 True Whig Vacant
(October 26, 1871 - January 1, 1872)
7 Joseph Jenkins Roberts
January 1, 1872 January 3, 1876 Republican 13.
Anthony W. Gardiner 14.
8 James Spriggs Payne
January 3, 1876 January 7, 1878 Republican 15.
Charles Harmon 9 Anthony W. Gardiner
January 7, 1878 January 20, 1883 True Whig 16.
Alfred Francis Russell 17.
10 Alfred Francis Russell
January 20, 1883 January 7, 1884 True Whig Vacant
(January 20, 1883 - January 7, 1884)
11 Hilary R. W. Johnson
January 7, 1884 January 4, 1892 True Whig 19.
James Thompson 20.
12 Joseph James Cheeseman
January 4, 1892 November 12, 1896 True Whig 23.
William D. Coleman 24.
13 William D. Coleman
November 12, 1896 December 11, 1900 True Whig Vacant
(November 12, 1896 - January 3, 1898)
Joseph J. Ross 27.
(1900 - January 3, 1902)
14 Garretson W. Gibson
December 11, 1900 January 4, 1904 True Whig 28.
Joseph D. Summerville 15 Arthur Barclay
January 4, 1904 January 1, 1912 True Whig 29.
(July 27, 1905 - January 1, 1906)
J. J. Dossen 31.
16 Daniel Edward Howard
January 1, 1912 January 5, 1920 True Whig 32.
Samuel George Harmon 33.
17 Charles D. B. King
January 5, 1920 December 3, 1930 True Whig 34.
Samuel Alfred Ross 35.
Henry Too Wesley 36.
Samuel Alfred Ross 18 Edwin Barclay
December 3, 1930 January 3, 1944 True Whig James Skivring Smith, Jr. 37.
19 William Tubman
January 3, 1944 July 23, 1971 True Whig 39.
Clarence Lorenzo Simpson 40.
William R. Tolbert, Jr. 41.
20 William R. Tolbert, Jr.
July 23, 1971 April 12, 1980 True Whig Vacant
(July 23, 1971 - April 1972)
James Edward Greene 46.
(July 22, 1977 - October 31, 1977)
Bennie Dee Warner Vacant April 12, 1980 January 6, 1986 21 Samuel Doe
January 6, 1986 September 9, 1990 National Democratic 47.
Harry Moniba Vacant September 9, 1990 August 2, 1997 22 Charles Taylor
August 2, 1997 August 11, 2003 National Patriotic 48.
Enoch Dogolea Vacant
(June 24, 2000 - July 24, 2000)
Moses Blah 23 Moses Blah
August 11, 2003 October 24, 2003 National Patriotic Vacant
(August 11, 2003 - October 24, 2003)
Vacant October 24, 2003 January 16, 2006 24 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
January 16, 2006 Incumbent Unity 49.
Joseph Boakai 50.
- Left office early:
- [A] Assassinated in a coup d'etat.
- [D] Died in office of natural causes.
- [R] Resigned.
Interim and Non-Presidential Heads of State
Position Took office Left office Party – Samuel Doe
Chairman of the People's Redemption Council April 12, 1980 January 6, 1986 National Democratic – Dr. Amos Sawyer
President of the Interim Government of National Unity November 22, 1990 March 7, 1994 Liberian People's Party 1 David D. Kpormakpor
Chairman of the Council of State March 7, 1994 September 1, 1995 Nonpartisan 2 Wilton G. S. Sankawulo
Chairman of the Council of State September 1, 1995 September 3, 1996 Nonpartisan 3 Ruth Perry
Chairwoman of the Council of State September 3, 1996 August 2, 1997 Nonpartisan – Gyude Bryant
Chairman of the National Transitional Government October 14, 2003 January 16, 2006 Liberian Action Party
- ^ Starr, Frederick (1913). Liberia: Description, History, Problems. Chicago. p. 256. http://books.google.com/books?id=KjwUAAAAIAAJ&printsec=titlepage&dq=history+Liberia+monrovia&cad=0.
- ^ Johnston, Sir Harry Hamilton; Otto Stapf (1906). Liberia. 1. Dodd, Mead & Company. p. 222. http://books.google.com/books?id=XTYbAAAAYAAJ&dq=%22executive%20mansion%22%20liberia&pg=PA222&ci=206%2C940%2C187%2C26.
- ^ a b Massaquoi, Hans J. (October 1971). "Liberia: End of the Tubman Era". Ebony: 48. http://books.google.com/books?id=ntwDAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA46&dq=%22executive%20mansion%22%20liberia&pg=PA48#v=onepage&q=%22executive%20mansion%22&f=false.
- Enno Schulz, "Presidents of Liberia.
Liberia topics History Politics Government Geography EconomyAgriculture · Companies · Liberian dollar · Petroleum Society Culture Other topics Presidents of Liberia
Joseph J. Roberts · Stephen Allen Benson · Daniel Bashiel Warner · James Spriggs Payne · Edward J. Roye · James Skivring Smith · Joseph J. Roberts · James Spriggs Payne · Anthony W. Gardiner · Alfred Francis Russell · Hilary R. W. Johnson · Joseph James Cheeseman · William D. Coleman · Garretson W. Gibson · Arthur Barclay · Daniel Edward Howard · Charles D. B. King · Edwin Barclay · William Tubman · William R. Tolbert, Jr. · Samuel Doe · Amos Sawyer · David D. Kpormakpor · Wilton G. S. Sankawulo · Ruth Perry · Charles G. Taylor · Moses Blah · Gyude Bryant · Ellen Johnson SirleafNon-presidential heads of state shown in italics
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