Hidden Facts about Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Hidden Facts about Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Johnson Sirleaf served as assistant minister of finance (1972–73) under Pres. William Tolbert and as finance minister (1980–85) in Samuel K. Doe’s military dictatorship. 
She became known for her personal financial integrity and clashed with both heads of state. During Doe’s regime she was imprisoned twice and narrowly avoided execution. 
In the 1985 national election she campaigned for a seat in the Senate and openly criticized the military government, which led to her arrest and a 10-year prison sentence. 
She was released after a short time and allowed to leave the country.
With more than 15,000 United Nations peacekeepers in the country and unemployment running at 80 percent, Johnson Sirleaf faced serious challenges. 

She immediately sought debt amelioration and aid from the international community. By late 2010 Liberia’s entire debt had been erased, and Johnson Sirleaf had secured millions of dollars of foreign investment in the country. 
In addition, she established a Truth and Reconciliation Committee (TRC) in 2006 to probe corruption and heal ethnic tensions. Ironically, in 2009 Johnson Sirleaf was mentioned in one of the TRC’s reports, which recommended that she, along with a number of others, be banned from holding elective office for 30 years for having supported warring factions in the civil war. 

In Johnson Sirleaf’s case, she had supported Taylor for a time very early in the war. The report’s recommendations were not binding, though, and she was buoyed by a widespread demonstration of both domestic and international support. 

Efforts toward eradicating corruption—a significant problem that Johnson Sirleaf had pledged to end—included the creation of the Anti-Corruption Commission in 2008.
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