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President Sirleaf’s Strategic Relationship with the U.S.

2015: President Obama Meets Madam Sirleaf

According to a report prepared for Members and Committees of the United States Congress, President Sirleaf’s (2006 – 2018) success in growing her economy’s GDP from $465 million in 2006 to 2.1 billion in 2017 comes her relationship with the United States.

According to the Congressional Report, “Ties (with the United States) were particularly close during the Sirleaf years.” The U.S. relations with the Sirleaf administration were warm from the start of her tenure in 2006, due largely to her frequent positive interactions with U.S. officials.

The U.S. Congress appropriated more than $5 billion in post-war aid and assistance to help foster relations through a House Democracy Partnership and put an end to Ebola.

In 2013, the Obama Administration launched a U.S.-Liberia Partnership Dialogue centering mostly on bilateral development cooperation. The most recent dialogue under this process was held in January 2017. https://lr.usembassy.gov/joint-statement-third-u-s-liberia-partnership-dialogue/

President Bush Meets with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), a force of around 2,100 personnel, was created with nearly $250 million in U.S. aid.

Liberia 2019 and Beyond

Liberia is at peace – a far departure from much of its turbulent history. Today, the country is starting to confront some internal threats from high unemployment and a weak economy. Failure to successfully address these concerns, especially in areas of job growth, economic diversification and addressing the needs of the disenfranchised youth population could generate into significant political grievances.

According to the U.S. State Department, Weah appears to be enjoying a political honeymoon, but its end is fast approaching, given the pressing nature of the state of the economy and unemployment. Weah’s success will depend on his ability to prove to the people at home and the international community that he can “govern competently, transparently, and be accountable.”

Still, while Weah did inherit many problems from the Sirleaf administration, he is also benefiting from extensive and ongoing donor-backed development and capacity-building assistance including major assistance from the United States, that were started by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

If Weah is unable to maintain the same close relationships with the U.S. as Ellen and he decreases in areas of good governance, he will lose credibility with the international community. In the same light, donor funds will dissipate with their dissatisfaction.

According to the State Department, for the time being, the United States appears set to continue to support Liberia’s current development trajectory – although the amount of assistance is far lower than those provided during Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s time in office.

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