Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was schooled in the U.S. before serving in the government of her native Liberia. A military coup in 1980 sent her into exile, but she returned in 1985 to speak out against the military regime. She was forced to briefly leave the country again. When she won the 2005 election, Johnson-Sirleaf became the first female elected head of state in Africa.

President of Liberia. Born October 29, 1938 in Monrovia, Liberia. A graduate of the College of West Africa at Monrovia, Johnson-Sirleaf received her Bachelor's in accounting at Madison Business College in Madison, Wisconsin, a degree in Economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University.

After returning to Liberia, Johnson-Sirleaf served as Assistant Minister of Finance in President William Tolbert's administration. In 1980, Tolbert was overthrown and killed by army sergeant Samuel Doe, who represented the Krahn ethnic group. Johnson-Sirleaf went into exile in Nairobi, Kenya, and the United States where she worked as an executive in the international banking community.

In 1985, Johnson-Sirleaf returned to Liberia and ran for the Senate, but when she spoke out against Doe's military regime, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison. She served a partial sentence before moving to Washington D.C. When she returned to her native country for a third time in 1997 it was as an economist, working for the World Bank and Citibank in Africa.

After supporting Charles Taylor's bloody rebellion against President Samuel Doe in 1990, Johnson-Sirleaf ran unsuccessfully against Taylor in the 1997 presidential election. Taylor subsequently charged Johnson-Sirleaf with treason. In 2005, after campaigning for the removal of President Taylor, Johnson-Sirleaf took over leadership of the Unity Party. That year, promising economic development and an end to corruption and civil war, the "iron lady" was elected President of Liberia. When she was inaugurated in 2006, Johnson-Sirleaf became the world's first elected black female president and Africa's first elected female head of state.

Despite the large number of Charles Taylor's followers in Liberian government, including his son-in-law and estranged wife, President Johnson-Sirleaf submitted an official request to Nigeria for Taylor's extradition in 2006.

Johnson-Sirleaf has four sons and six grandchildren, some of whom live in Atlanta, Georgia.

From : www.biography.com