The U.S. State Department's latest report cites Liberia as a country that improved its human rights record in 2005. The report points out that "After fourteen years of civil war and two years of an interim government, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was declared the winner of multiparty presidential elections on November 23rd, marking a significant milestone in the country's transition to democracy."
Most observers consider Ms. Johnson Sirleaf's election to have been free and fair. She replaced Charles Gyude Bryant, who led an interim government after October 2003. In August 2003, the former government and Liberia's two rebel groups, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia, signed a peace agreement. The accord ended a civil war that began in 1999.
Some fifteen thousand United Nations peacekeepers and one-thousand-one-hundred police officers are in Liberia. They are responsible for maintaining security while the Liberian armed forces and police receive training. The State Department report says that, "Unlike in the previous year, former rebel combatants no longer retained control of some rural areas. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control over security forces." U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice offered this comment:
"A few years ago we were looking at young men – very young men, thirteen, fourteen-year olds – on the front pages of the newspapers with AK-47s [assault rifles] and we now have in Liberia the first woman elected president on the continent of Africa."
The State Department report, says that in 2005, Liberia passed legislation "to strengthen human rights." But according to the report problems continue in some areas. Secretary of State Rice says the U.S. will continue to assist Liberia as it makes a transition "to democracy and stability."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.