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The Liberian Post
Page 53
Background Conflict

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Liberia (History)
Liberia (History)Liberia was founded in 1821 as a haven for freed American slaves by the AMERICAN COLONIZATION SOCIETY. The first American settlers arrived in 1822, and some 15,000 were eventually settled. The colony became independent in 1847. Constitutional issues, mounting foreign debts (the government was bankrupt by 1909), and the loss of disputed territory threatened the stability of the new nation, but with U.S. help, independence was preserved. In 1930 revelations of government connivance in a slave trade from Liberia resulted in the downfall of the regime and proposals for international control. Such action was averted, however, by the leadership of presidents Edwin Barclay (1930-44) and William V.S. TUBMAN (1944-71); the latter opened Liberia to international investment, gave tribal peoples a greater voice in the country's affairs, and improved living standards. In 1979, after years of political stability, a government proposal to increase the price of rice (the main staple) produced widespread violence. A year later a coup led by soldiers of African origin ended 100 years of rule by Americo-Liberians; Pres. William R. TOLBERT (who had succeeded Tubman in 1971) was assassinated, and the country was placed under military rule, with 28-year-old Samuel K. Doe assuming the presidency. Doe's tyrannical rule and his favoritism toward his own ethnic group precipitated a civil war in 1990. In late 1990 Doe was captured by rebels and executed; fighting subsequently broke out between the rebel factions. Peacekeeping forces led by Nigeria largely ended the fighting, but progress toward peace stalled, with the peacekeepers controlling Monrovia and environs and rebel forces under Charles Taylor controlling most of the rest of Liberia. A 1993 accord established a cease-fire and interim government and called for multiparty elections. Implementation of the accord, however, was slow, and the emergence of new armed groups and fighting within existing groups disrupted the pact and renewed the civil war.

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