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In the News: Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf made the news in Scholastic News Edition 5/6 on December 5, 2005.
By Alexandra Cale

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of the Unity Party speaks to jounalists in Monrovia, Liberia on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2005.
(Photo: George Osodi/AP Wide World)
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is the President of Liberia, a country on the western coast of Africa. Johnson-Sirleaf is the first woman to be elected President of an African country.

"It's clear that the Liberian people have expressed confidence in me," said Johnson-Sirleaf. "They have elected me to lead the team that will bring reform to the country and that will deliver development."

Johnson-Sirleaf holds a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University. She has previously worked for the World Bank and as the Vice President of Citibank in Nairobi, Kenya.

Johnson-Sirleaf began serving Liberia's government in the 1970s as Finance Minister. While running for Senate in 1985, she gave a speech harshly criticizing the military. As a result, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Though she only served a small part of her term, she left the country and did not return until 1997.

When she returned to Liberia, Johnson-Sirleaf ran for President and lost. In November 2005, the country again held elections. This time, she beat her competitor, George Weah. He was disappointed, but Johnson-Sirleaf invited him to join her government.

Johnson-Sirleaf has a difficult job ahead of her. Liberia has recently suffered through two civil wars. Although Liberia once had many natural resources like diamonds, ancient forests and rubber, much of the country was destroyed in the fighting.