Liberian Civil War

First War: 1989-1996

Second War: 1999-2003

Background Infomation:

Samuel Doe, the Master Sergeant of the Liberian Army, seizes presidential power through a bloody coup and ends the 133 year rule of the Americo-Liberian True Whig Party. Doe assassinates the current president, President William Tolbert, along with 13 of Tolbert’s cabinet member and imprisons many government officials before. In 1985, Doe’s National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) wins the October election, though many say that the election was unfair and rigged. Throughout Doe’s term as president he is accused for human rights abuse and corruption.


Charles Taylor, one of Doe’s former military lieutenants comes back to Liberia through the Ivory Coast forming a group of rebels called the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), and hoping to end Doe’s rule. Because of Taylor’s decisions to carry out these actions, the civil wars begins and around 200,000 lives are lost throughout the war.


the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), led by Taylor’s old comrade, Prince Johnson, captures Samuel Doe and holds his execution. Yet the fighting continues between Taylor and Johnson. In 1991 Taylor agrees to become a part of a five-man transitional government. This plan, however, doesn’t work out and causes a series of failed negotiated peace accords and power sharing arrangements for the next six years and lead to continued violence.


around 3,000 people are killed during a harsh battle in Monrovia in which the government attempts to arrest Roosevelt Johnson, the leader of one of the many Liberian militant factions that have gained power since the start of the civil war. Taylor’s NPFL, along with one ally, who also wishes Johnson to be arrested, fights against Johnson and three other factions that have promised to defend him. Johnson comes out of the battle unharmed. In July, presidential elections are held and Taylor wins by a huge margin, yet the country is deeply in debt and eighty percent of lLiberian’s population lives in poverty.


government troops attack the U.S. Embassy where Roosevelt Johnson is found to be taking refuge there. Johnson is captured and later exiled to Nigeria.


a rebel group against Taylor’s government called Liberians United for a Reconciliation and Democracy, attacks the county of Lofa in the north, near the Guinean border. Guinea accuses Liberia of chasing the rebels into their country. The fighting eventually spreads to western and central Liberia.


the rebel groups are advancing through the borders of Monrovia. In July Taylor is asked to step down from office for crimes of war and humanity. In August Taylor resigns in the midst of the arrival of Nigerian peacekeepers and the U.S. Marines. The Liberian government along with the two most significant rebel groups sign a peace accord and a campaign to disarm rebel groups and maintain peace is put into action. Back To Top