BY THE time its stop-start civil war ended in 2003, Liberia had all but collapsed. Fourteen years of barbaric fighting had killed some 250,000 people, or roughly 8% of the population. Many more Liberians were displaced by the violence. The economy had shrunk by 90%. Schools, hospitals and government buildings lay in ruins. Children ate tree bark to survive. This was the catastrophe that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf inherited when she was elected president in 2005.

Liberia will hold an election on October 10th (see article), presaging its first transfer of power from one elected president to another since 1944. Ms Sirleaf will step down next year. Her tenure has been imperfect, as Liberians will complain. Her successor will have his hands full. Even so Ma Ellen, as she is called, deserves praise for putting Liberia back on its…Continue reading

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