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Ellen looks back

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Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took to her twitter page on Saturday January 16, to celebrate the day she made history 15 years ago as the first female president of Liberia and Africa.

“On this day 15 years ago, I was deeply humbled to assume the responsibility of the Presidency of Liberia. It was the honor of a lifetime to do my part to rebuild our nation, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity given to me by the Liberian people. #OnThisDay,” Mrs. Sirleaf wrote.

Mrs. Sirleaf was sworn in as Liberia’s first female President on January 16, 2006 after she defeated current President George Weah in the 2005 presidential run-off.

She had come second to Weah in the first round of voting and won by 59% in the run-off versus 40% for Weah, though Weah disputed the results.

Mrs. Sirleafwas sworn in as the country’s 24th president and was elected in 2011 just weeks after she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her efforts to bring women into the peacekeeping process. She has received numerous other awards for her leadership.

Background

Mrs. Sirleafran for president as the candidate of the Unity Party in the 2005 general election. She came second in the first round of voting behind current President George Weah, a former footballer.

In the run-off election, Sirleafgot 59% of the vote against 40% for Weah, though Weah disputed the results.

The announcement of the new leader was postponed until further election investigations were carried out. On 23 November 2005, Mrs. Sirleaf was declared the winner of the Liberian election and confirmed as the country’s next president and the first woman to be elected as president of an African country

Her inauguration took place on 16 January 2006. It was attended by many foreign dignitaries, including United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and First Lady Laura Bush,In January 2010, Sirleaf announced that she would run for a second term in office in the 2011 presidential election while speaking to a joint session of the Legislature.

Opposition leaders noted that in doing so, she had broken a promise made during her 2005 campaign to only serve one term if elected. Sirleaf was re-nominated as the Unity Party’s presidential candidate at the party’s national convention on 31 October 2010.

That same day, Vice President Joseph Boakai was nominated by Sirleaf and confirmed by the delegates as Sirleaf’s running mate.

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Sirleaf four days prior to the election was criticized by opposition parties, with Congress for Democratic Change candidate Winston Tubman calling the award “undeserved” and “a political interference in our country’s politics.”

Sirleaf called the timing of the award a coincidence and avoided mentioning the award during the final days of campaigning.

Sirleaf earned 43.9% of the vote in the first round, more than any other candidate but short of the 50% needed to avoid a run-off. Tubman came in second with 32.7%, pitting him against Sirleaf in the second round

Tubman called for a boycott of the run-off, claiming that the results of the first round had been fraudulent.

Sirleaf denied the allegations, and international observers reported that the first round election had been free, fair and transparent. As a result of the boycott, Sirleaf won the second round with 90.7% of the vote, though voter turnout significantly declined from the first round.

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