Politics in Liberia has been corrupted for a long time. The following is a timeline that spans from the term of former President Charles Tayler to current President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
January 1991 -- After years of instability under Samuel
Doe's military regime, rebel leader Charles Taylor and his party, the National
Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), and the Economic Community of West African
States (ECOWAS) agree to form an interim government.
September 1993 -- The interim government repeals a Doe
regime-era decree that criminalized, on national security grounds, any
criticism of the government. However, the Information Ministry still has
considerable discretion under the Doe-era media law in licensing and regulating
July 1997 -- In presidential and legislative
elections Charles Taylor wins by a landslide, and his National Patriotic Party
wins a majority of seats in the National Assembly.
March 1999 -- The government slams a U.S. State
Department report on human rights practices in Liberia. The report notes the
judicial system is inefficient, corrupt and unable to protect citizens' basic
rights, and that freedom of the press and freedom of movement are restricted.
November 1999 -- The Finance Ministry conducts an
investigation into the disappearance of 9.8 million Liberian dollars
(US$200,000) in local funds intended to pay teachers.
December 1999 -- The Justice Ministry sets up a Human
Rights Coordinating Office to work with local and international human rights
security forces are frequently accused of committing human rights abuses.
August 2000 -- Four journalists on assignment for
British and American television are arrested and charged with espionage while
working on a documentary about diamond smuggling and drug-running. One week
later, after substantial international pressure, all four journalists are
released after they publicly apologize to President Taylor, who claimed they
were arrested because a script found in their possession contained lies and
slander about Liberia.
May 2002 -- The government bans a call-in radio
talk show in which citizens are allowed to discuss President Taylor and his
government. The show is believed to have influenced the U.N.'s decision to
maintain sanctions against Liberia.
The previous year, police raided the station and briefly detained the presenter
of the show.
June 2003 -- A U.N.-backed court in Sierra Leone indicts President Taylor for war
crimes for his role in destabilizing Sierra Leone during its civil war.
In 2006, the International Criminal Court in The Hague agrees to host his trial.
August 2003 -- President Taylor hands over power to
Vice President Moses Blah and flees to Nigeria, which granted him asylum
in July. The government signs a peace deal with the two main rebel groups to
end a three-year civil war. Businessman Gyude Bryant is picked to head a
two-year transition government that will take office in two months. Over the next
several months, the U.N. Security Council attempts to bolster the peace process
through Resolution 1509, which creates the United Nations Mission in Liberia
(UNMIL), and Resolution 1521, which bans the supply, sale or transfer of arms
to Liberia and the export of
diamonds and timber products.
December 2003 -- Liberia signs the African
Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.
February 2004 -- A parliamentary report triggers
investigations into exorbitant travel expenses claimed by members of the
February 2004 -- International donors pledge 25 billion
Liberian dollars (US$500 million) to help reconstruct the country.
March 2004 -- The U.N. Security Council adopts
Resolution 1532, freezing the financial assets and economic resources that were
misappropriated by Charles Taylor, his family members and close associates.
December 2004 -- With elections planned for the
following year, the transition government adopts an electoral reform law to
ensure equity and fairness in voter registration, which begins in April 2005.
New political party and independent candidate registration guidelines come into
force in January 2005.
August 2005 -- J.D. Slanger, former head of the Bureau
of Maritime Affairs, is charged with embezzling 171 million Liberian dollars
November 2005 -- The transition government passes a law
allowing legislators to keep government vehicles for their private use when
they leave office. Legislators leaving office the following month reportedly strip
the capitol building of computers, furniture and carpeting.
November 2005 -- Former Finance Minister Ellen
Johnson-Sirleaf is elected president, becoming Africa's
first elected woman head of state. She pledges "zero tolerance" of
January 2006 -- The transition government denies U.N.
accusations that 1.5 billion Liberian dollars (US$30 million) in mineral sales
and tax revenues had gone missing during its administration. The new Parliament
approves a motion calling for an audit of the transition government, during
which top officials will be barred from leaving the country.
June 2006 -- Dutch timber merchant Guus van
Kouwenhoven is sentenced to eight years in prison by a Dutch court for
exchanging weapons with former President Taylor for logging concessions, in
violation of the U.N. arms embargo.
July 2006 -- The U.N. releases a report on
corruption in the judiciary with regard to rape cases. The report alleges court
and police officials demand bribes to arrest and prosecute rape suspects, and
accused child rapists are allowed to pay their way out of jail. A law passed in
December 2005 made rape illegal for the first time in the country's history.
Feb. 28, 2007 -- Liberia's ex-President Gyude Bryant
is charged with embezzling more than US$1 million during his time in office. He
was questioned by police about these corruption allegations in January.
July 3, 2007 -- Former President Charles Taylor appears
at his war crimes trial in The Hague
for the first time. His trial will be delayed till Aug. 20 because the court
needs to appoint a defense team for Taylor,
after he sacked his lawyer. Taylor has boycotted
previous hearings and denies charges of backing rebels in Sierra Leone in
an 11-year campaign that killed thousands of civilians. He is accused of giving
the rebels guns, training and money in exchange for diamonds from the areas
they controlled. This is the first time a former African head of state appears
before a war crimes tribunal.
Taylor pleaded not guilty to all charges when he
appeared in court in March 2006 in Freetown,
The trial was transferred to The Hague because
of fears it could lead to renewed tensions within Sierra
Leone and Liberia.