What Type Of Government Does Liberia Have?

The flag of Liberia on a banner.
The flag of Liberia on a banner.

Liberia has a presidential representative democratic republic where the President of the country serves as the head of state and head government. As opposed to a federalist state like the US, Liberia has a pluriform multi-party system as opposed to the two dominant party systems in the US. The executive power of Liberia is exercised by government whereas its legislative power is vested in both the two chambers of the legislature and the government. The country is still in the undergoing transition from ravages of civil war and dictatorship to democracy. The government of Liberia is modeled on the framework of an American system that has three equal branches of government. However, the Liberian President has always dominated the country's politics. In 1876, the Republican Party was dissolved making the True Whig Party dominant over the government of Liberia till the 1980 coup. Currently there is no party with majority membership in the legislature.

The Executive Branch

The executive branch of the Liberian government is made up of the President who is the leader, the Vice-President, and the Cabinet. The President of Liberia can serve a total of two six-year terms in office. The Vice-President of Liberia is elected on the same ticket with the president also serving a term of six years. The Cabinet is appointed by the president only with the consent and confirmation of the Senate. Her Excellency, Ellen Johnson is the current President of Liberia and also Africa's first elected female president.

The Legislative Branch

The legislative branch of the Liberian government has a bicameral parliamentary system having the Senate and the House of Representatives. The legislative branch is modeled after the US Congress, and its sessions are held in Monrovia at the Capitol Building. The Senate is the upper house of the legislature consisting of 30 seats and its members are elected by popular vote to serve a term of nine years. The House of Representatives is the lower chamber of the legislature comprising of 73 seats, and its members are elected by popular vote to serve a term of six years.

The Judicial Branch

The highest judicial body in the country is the Supreme Court of Liberia whose judgments are both final and binding since it is not subject to appeal or review by any other court or branch of government. Judicial power is also vested in other subordinate courts established from time to time by the legislature. The judiciary comprises of five justices nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate; the justices serve a lifelong tenure. Other courts include the magistrate courts, appeal courts, and criminal courts in the country's counties. The courts may apply both customary and statutory laws following the standards enacted by the legislature. Liberia also has lay courts and traditional courts, and trial by ordeal is also practiced in some parts of the country.

Additional Facts About the Government of Liberia

At present, there is no party in Liberia that has significant control of the legislature. William Tubman was Liberia's longest serving President in the history of the country. Tubman served for 27 years from 1944 until his death in 1971. James Skivring Smith was the shortest serving president of Liberia, serving as an interim president for only two months. Despite widespread corruption in the country, the political process was very stable from the founding of Liberia in 1847 to 1980 when the First Republic came to an end.


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