Liberia. At a conference in New York in February, the UN, the World Bank and a number of industrialized countries pledged more than half a billion US dollars to the reconstruction of Liberia.
Militarily, Liberia was relatively stable during the year, thanks to the UNMIL (United Nations Mission in Liberia) force of about 15,000 men, of which a few hundred Swedes, were able to gradually establish themselves throughout the country and disarm the former warring groups. The disarmament was declared completed on October 31, when about 70,000 people – of which about 15% children – had registered. According to CountryAAH, the total population in Liberia is 5,057,692 people in 2020. The number of people notified was significantly higher than expected, but the mere handing in of 26,000 weapons gave rise to suspicions that a large number of weapons had been hidden. Officially, however, the two former rebel groups LURD and MODEL announced that they had disbanded their military branches.
Politically, the transition process was slowed down by, among other things, a prolonged leadership struggle within the LURD, following internal disagreement over ministerial posts, and the inability of the Provisional Parliament to pass the laws required to organize general elections in 2005.
At the end of October, unrest broke out in the capital Monrovia with at least 18 deaths. It was unclear what the clashes between Christian and Muslim youth were due to, but poverty, unemployment and lack of future faith were seen as a reasonable explanation.
Liberia referendum on shorter terms
Liberians go to the polls to appoint a third of the members of the Senate and to vote in a referendum to shorten the term of office of the President and the House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament, from five to six years and to elect senators for seven years instead of nine. When the votes have been counted in more than half of the constituencies, opposition parties or independent candidates have received the most votes in all but one district. Some commentators fear that the constitutional amendment is a way for President Weah to try to sit for a third term with reference to a constitutional amendment. However, he is only in his first term as president. The final result is expected to be delayed for several weeks.
Liberian warlord on trial in Switzerland
A former Liberian warlord, Alieu Kosiah, is being prosecuted for war crimes in Switzerland for atrocities committed during the first civil war in 1989-1996, which claimed about a quarter of a million lives. Kosiah, who belonged to the rebel movement Ulimo, is accused of murder, rape and other war crimes. He was arrested in Switzerland in 2014. This is the first time a Liberian has been prosecuted for war crimes committed in his own country. One of the charges concerns the murder of 18 civilians and two unarmed soldiers, as well as for insulting a dead man by eating his heart. Kosiah denies all allegations. During the Civil War, Ulimo fought the forces of the then rebel leader Charles Taylor. Taylor, who was Liberia’s president from 1997-2003, was sentenced in 2012 to 50 years in prison, but for crimes committed in neighboring Sierra Leone.