Liberia’s ‘Iron Lady’ Reelected to Second Term

Posted November 10th, 2011 at 6:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, known as Liberia's Iron Lady, has been re-elected president, just weeks after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

The 73-year-old grandmother rose to international prominence in 2005 when she became Africa's first democratically elected female leader.

Mrs. Sirleaf took office after a bloody civil war that killed a quarter of a million people and left Liberia's economy in ruins.

The Harvard University-educated leader won praise for attracting international investors and getting creditors to write-off some of the country's debt. She served as Liberian finance minister and held a series of key jobs at the United Nations and the World Bank.

Despite her successes, critics accused her of failing to reconcile Liberia's many factions. They say she has done little to pursue justice for war crimes victims and eliminate corruption.

She also came under criticism for her ties to former rebel leader Charles Taylor. In 2009, Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended that President Sirleaf be banned from holding public office for 30 years for her involvement with his rebel group. Although Mrs. Sirleaf expressed regret for once supporting Taylor, she has ignored the commission's recommendation.

Last month, Mrs. Sirleaf was one of three people awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for what the Nobel Committee said was helping secure peace in Liberia, promoting economic and social development, and strengthening the position of women.