Country FilesWestCountry Profile 2014: LIBERIA

Wed,22Nov2017

Posted on Sunday, 09 February 2014 11:58

Country Profile 2014: LIBERIA

Predator police, predator politicians

Having survived a generally peaceful decade since the end of its civil war, Liberia is often referred to as a post-conflict success story, but President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s government continues to be criticised over corruption among public officials and the police, and over the management of its natural resource deals. The security situation is stable but public discontent, suspicion an danger towards the government is rising.

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TOP LIBERIAN COMPANIES

TOP LIBERIAN BANKS

 

ar-infographie-liberia-2014Predator police, predator politicians

Having survived a generally peaceful decade since the end of its civil war, Liberia is often referred to as a post-conflict success story, but President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s government continues to be criticised over corruption among public officials and the police, and over the management of its natural resource deals. The security situation is stable but public discontent, suspicion an danger towards the government is rising.

The size of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) will be gradually reduced over the coming three years amid warnings about the country’s future stability. The UN’s top representative Karin Landgren said the government must make “faster progress” in the area of security-sector reform as it is under pressure to improve security throughout the country. The UN says the police force will have to double to 8,000, but Human Rights Watch has accused the police of being “riddled with corruption and a lack of professionalism and accountability” and acting as “predators” on citizens.

RECONCILIATION ROADMAP

Liberia’s divisive 2011 elections underscored the need for reconciliation. The controversial Truth and Reconciliation Commission,whose final report was released in late 2009, was shelved due to a lack of political will to implement its recommendations, the most controversial of which were the establishment of a war crimes court and debarment from public office of those allegedly linked to the conflict, among them Johnson Sirleaf herself. The government has launched an 18-year reconciliation road map, with emphasis on restorative rather than retributive justice. Former football legend and leader of the major opposition party the Congress for Democratic Change George Weah was appointed ‘peace ambassador’ after Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee resigned in October 2012.

The ruling Unity Party remains deeply divided between supporters of Johnson Sirleaf and those of chairman Varney Sherman who is said to dominate. Senatorial elections in 2014 could tip the current balance of power.

International media and human rights groups have attacked the handling of the case of newspaper editor Rodney Sieh, who was imprisoned after he failed to pay $1.5m in damages awarded to former agriculture minister Christopher Toe, whom Sieh accused of corruption. The government has been urged to revise its libel laws to meet international standards.

Recognising corruption as a live issue, Johnson Sirleaf fired the head of the General Auditing Commission in 2013 due to mounting pressure from the legislature. The Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission has only prosecuted one case since it was established in 2008 but released a report that 22 senior government officials had refused to cooperate with an inquiry into asset declarations, and accused three government officials of “unexplained wealth accumulation”. It remains to be seen whether Johnson Sirleaf will live up to her commitment to rout out graft.

CONCESSION AREAS

The government attracted $16bn worth of investment during Johnson Sirleaf’s first term, mainly in the area of natural resource concessions,but an audit commissioned by the government and the Liberia Extractives Transparency Initiative found that almost $8bn worth of contracts signed by the government since 2009 have violated its procedures and laws. Tensions and violence in communities surrounding the concession areas and unclear land title and ownership laws remain a key challenge.

The economy has grown by an average 7% a year since 2003. The IMF forecasts growth of 8.1% in 2013 and 6.8% in 2014, but projections are vulnerable to price fluctuations of iron ore and rubber. This is one of the poorest countries in the world, with an estimated 76% of the population living below $1 a day. Only 15% of workers are employed formally and 79% of those employed are without a steady income. With 70% of the population below the age of 30, high youth unemployment is a clear threat to future stability.

ArcelorMittal is the only iron ore mining company that is fully operational at the moment, with BHP Billiton and China Union in various stages of development. Aureus Mining is expected to develop Liberia’s first commercial gold project with production anticipated in 2014.

TOP LIBERIAN COMPANIES

 

No companies from Liberia featured in The Africa's Report's Top 500 Companies in Africa 2013.

 

TOP LIBERIAN BANKS

 

No banks from Liberia featured in The Africa's Report's Top 200 Banks in Africa 2012

 



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