Liberia's Sirleaf: Africa's first elected female leader

Taking the reins of a nation that had just emerged from a civil war leaving an estimated 250,000 dead, Sirleaf will be remembered for maintaining peace and attracting massive donor funding as she rebuilt her country from scratch over 12 years in power.

Liberia's Sirleaf: Africa's first elected female leader

World Bulletin / News Desk

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who shared the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize as a champion of women's rights, is stepping down after making history as Africa's first elected female president in Liberia.

"We were a nation exhausted from three decades of conflict. We were starting from zero, with the complete destruction of our national infrastructure, a collapsed economy, and a state incapable of providing services to its people," she recalled of her 2006 inauguration in a final speech to the nation on Wednesday.

She will on Monday hand power to former international footballer George Weah, representing the West African country's first democratic transfer of power since 1944, and will leave behind a mixed record of peace and freedom of speech cherished by the population, but stubbornly low living standards.

Sirleaf, 79, presided over the 2014-16 Ebola crisis during which more than 4,000 Liberians died, and struggled to counter the effects of plunging commodity prices in a nation highly dependent on exports of iron ore and rubber.

She also weathered regional crises in West Africa, most notably as a mediator during The Gambia's 2016-17 political crisis, when President Yahya Jammeh stubbornly refused to stand down after losing an election.

Sirleaf noted in her final address that Liberia "reflects the changing face of the continent, where rule of law, human rights, good governance, and accountability are demanded by its citizens. This is Africa's future, and Liberia is one of its enviable democracies."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Ocak 2018, 16:00