President of Liberia

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President of the
Republic of Liberia
Presidential Standard of Liberia.svg
Presidential Standard
George Weah

since January 22, 2018
StyleMr. President
His Excellency
ResidenceExecutive Mansion
Term lengthSix years, renewable once
Inaugural holderJoseph Jenkins Roberts
January 3, 1848
Formation1847 Constitution of Liberia
July 26, 1847
DeputyVice President of Liberia
SalaryUS$90,000 annually
Coat of arms of Liberia.svg
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The President of the Republic of Liberia is the head of state and 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.

Between 1847 and 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 and murder 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 president, making her the first elected female head of state in Africa. As of 2018, the president is George Weah.


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 murdered President William R. Tolbert Jr.

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 murdered in 1990 following the commencement 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.

George Weah was elected in 2017 as the 23rd President of Liberia. Incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf signed Executive Order No. 91, thus establishing a Joint Presidential Transition Team, due to the fact that Liberia had "not experienced the transfer of power from one democratically elected President to another democratically elected President for over 70 years [...]".[1]

Powers and Duties[edit]

The presidency of Liberia is largely modeled on the presidency of the United States.

Executive functions[edit]

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.

Legislative functions[edit]

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 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 (per Art, 27(b) of the Constitution, citizenship is limited to "persons who are Negroes or of Negro descent");
  • 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 be from the same county as the Vice President of Liberia.

Term and election[edit]

Under the original 1847 Constitution, the president was elected to a two-year term, which was increased to four years on May 7, 1907.[2] Under this amendment, a new president would serve for eight years and could be re-elected to unlimited four-year terms. During the presidency of William R. Tolbert, Jr., the Constitution was amended to restrict the president to a single eight-year term; by 1976, voices in the Legislature were being raised in favor of returning to the previous system, but Tolbert proclaimed his support for the existing system and vowed to veto any constitutional amendments to remove term limits.[3]

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 at noon on the third working Monday in January of the year immediately following the elections.[4] 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.


Old Executive Mansion in Monrovia, 1920
Executive Mansion in Monrovia, 2009

The President of Liberia resides and works out of the Executive Mansion in the capital of Monrovia.[5][6] Located across the street from the Capitol Building in the Capitol Hill district, the current building was constructed during the presidency of William Tubman.[6]


Political parties
Other factions


Term of OfficePartyTerm
Vice President
1Joseph Jenkins Roberts.jpgJoseph Jenkins Roberts
January 3, 1848January 7, 1856Independent1.
Nathaniel Brander
Anthony D. Williams
Stephen Allen Benson
2Stephen Allen Benson.jpgStephen Allen Benson
January 7, 1856January 4, 1864Independent5.
Beverly Page Yates
Daniel Bashiel Warner
3Daniel Warner2.jpgDaniel Bashiel Warner
January 4, 1864January 6, 1868Republican Party9.
James M. Priest
4James Payne2.jpgJames Spriggs Payne
January 6, 1868January 3, 1870Republican Party11.
Joseph Gibson
5Edward James Roye2.jpgEdward James Roye
January 3, 1870October 26, 1871
True Whig Party12.
James Skivring Smith
6SkivringSmith.jpgJames Skivring Smith
October 26, 1871January 1, 1872True Whig PartyVacant
(October 26, 1871 – January 1, 1872)
7Joseph Jenkins Roberts.jpgJoseph Jenkins Roberts
January 1, 1872January 3, 1876
Republican Party13.
Anthony W. Gardiner
8James Payne2.jpgJames Spriggs Payne
January 3, 1876January 7, 1878Republican Party15.
Charles Harmon
9Gardiner2.jpgAnthony W. Gardiner
January 7, 1878January 20, 1883
True Whig Party16.
Alfred Francis Russell
10Alfred Russell2.jpgAlfred Francis Russell
January 20, 1883January 7, 1884True Whig PartyVacant
(January 20, 1883 – January 7, 1884)
11Hilary Johnson2.jpgHilary R. W. Johnson
January 7, 1884January 4, 1892True Whig Party19.
James Thompson
12Joseph Cheeseman2.jpgJoseph James Cheeseman
January 4, 1892November 12, 1896
True Whig Party23.
William D. Coleman
13William Coleman2.jpgWilliam D. Coleman
November 12, 1896December 11, 1900True Whig PartyVacant
(November 12, 1896 – January 3, 1898)
Joseph J. Ross
(October 24, 1899 – January 3, 1902)
14Garretson Gibson2.jpgGarretson W. Gibson
December 11, 1900January 4, 1904True Whig Party
Joseph D. Summerville
15Arthur Barclay.jpgArthur Barclay
January 4, 1904January 1, 1912True Whig Party29.
(July 27, 1905 – January 1, 1906)
J. J. Dossen
16Daniel Edward Howard.jpgDaniel Edward Howard
January 1, 1912January 5, 1920True Whig Party32.
Samuel George Harmon
17CBD King of Liberia.jpgCharles D. B. King
January 5, 1920December 3, 1930
True Whig Party34.
Samuel Alfred Ross
Henry Too Wesley
Allen Yancy
18Edwin Barclay portrait.jpgEdwin Barclay
December 3, 1930January 3, 1944True Whig PartyJames Skivring Smith, Jr.
19William Tubman 1943.jpgWilliam Tubman
January 3, 1944July 23, 1971
True Whig Party39.
Clarence Lorenzo Simpson
William R. Tolbert Jr.
20William R. Tolbert, Jr..JPGWilliam R. Tolbert Jr.
July 23, 1971April 12, 1980
True Whig PartyVacant
(July 23, 1971 – April 1972)
James Edward Greene
(July 22, 1977 – October 31, 1977)
Bennie Dee Warner
VacantApril 12, 1980January 6, 1986 
21Samuel Kanyon Doe - Liberian.jpgSamuel Doe
January 6, 1986September 9, 1990
National Democratic Party47.
Harry Moniba
VacantSeptember 9, 1990August 2, 1997 
22President Charles Taylor.pngCharles Taylor
August 2, 1997August 11, 2003
National Patriotic Party48.
Enoch Dogolea
(June 24, 2000 – July 24, 2000)
Moses Blah
23No image.pngMoses Blah
August 11, 2003October 14, 2003
National Patriotic PartyVacant
(August 11, 2003 – October 14, 2003)
VacantOctober 14, 2003January 16, 2006 
24Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, April 2010.jpgEllen Johnson Sirleaf
January 16, 2006January 22, 2018Unity Party49.
Joseph Boakai
25PortraitGeorgeWeahAiportTunisCarthageSeptembre2016.jpgGeorge Weah
January 22, 2018IncumbentCongress for Democratic Change51.
Jewel Taylor
Interim and non-presidential Heads of State
No.Head of State
PositionTerm of OfficeParty
Samuel Kanyon Doe - Liberian.jpgSamuel Doe
Chairman of the People's Redemption CouncilApril 12, 1980January 6, 1986Military /
National Democratic Party
No image.pngAmos Sawyer
President of the Interim Government of National UnityNovember 22, 1990March 7, 1994Liberian People's Party
1No image.pngDavid D. Kpormakpor
Chairman of the Council of StateMarch 7, 1994September 1, 1995Independent
2No image.pngWilton G. S. Sankawulo
Chairman of the Council of StateSeptember 1, 1995September 3, 1996Independent
3No image.pngRuth Perry
Chairwoman of the Council of StateSeptember 3, 1996August 2, 1997Independent
Gyude Bryant.jpgGyude Bryant
Chairman of the National Transitional GovernmentOctober 14, 2003January 16, 2006Liberian Action Party


George WeahEllen Johnson SirleafGyude BryantMoses BlahCharles TaylorRuth PerryWilton G. S. SankawuloDavid D. KpormakporAmos SawyerSamuel DoeWilliam R. Tolbert Jr.William TubmanEdwin BarclayCharles D. B. KingDaniel Edward HowardArthur BarclayGarretson W. GibsonWilliam D. ColemanJoseph James CheesemanHilary R. W. JohnsonAlfred Francis RussellAnthony W. GardinerJames Skivring SmithEdward James RoyeJames Spriggs PayneDaniel Bashiel WarnerStephen Allen BensonJoseph Jenkins Roberts

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "President Sirleaf Issues Executive order No. 91 – Establishing the Joint Presidential Transition Team of 2017". Executive Mansion. Retrieved 2017-12-29. 
  2. ^ Starr, Frederick (1913). Liberia: Description, History, Problems. Chicago. p. 256. 
  3. ^ "Pres. Tolbert Says 'No' To Evil Tradition: Vows to Veto Any Amendment To Keep Him In Office". [Monrovia] Sunday Express 1976-03-21: 1/2.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Johnston, Sir Harry Hamilton; Otto Stapf (1906). Liberia. 1. Dodd, Mead & Company. p. 222. 
  6. ^ a b Massaquoi, Hans J. (October 1971). "Liberia: End of the Tubman Era". Ebony: 48.