Political and Security Update
Liberia is a relatively compact and verdant country with a small population of 4 million (2016) and a damp coastal climate with six-month-long summer rains. Founded by freed slaves, it has old, established ties to the US. Its destiny has been otherwise defined by international shipping access to its Atlantic Ocean ports, and the dynamics of its Mano River Basin interior, a region that it shares with its two of its neighbors, Sierra Leone and Guinea. It also borders Cote d'Ivoire.
Liberia's National Elections Commission (NEC) declared political campaigning opened in July 2017, ahead of presidential and in legislative elections in October. The NEC allowed 984 individuals from 26 political parties to contest 73 seats in the House of Representatives, and another 40 to run for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency. More than 5,000 polling places were set-up in Liberia’s 15 counties. The election signals the end (in January 2018) of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's terms in
In December 2016, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) for a final period until March 30, 2018. Under Chapter VII of the UN's Charter, UNMIL’s mandate included civilian protection, advising Liberia on justice and security reform, supporting the promotion, protection, and monitoring of human rights, and efforts to combat sexual and gender-based violence. The Mission’s 1,240 military personnel had been reduced to no more than 434, and its police strength to 310. The UN Security Council had called on the Government Of Liberia to prioritize national reconciliation and economic recovery.
Following the twin shocks of the 2014/15 outbreak of the Ebola Virus and a global slump in commodity prices, Liberia’s economy is expected to recover from -1.6% in 2016 to 2.6% in 2017. The slowdown in economic activity has had a negative impact on fiscal revenue, inflation, exchange rate stability, and poverty rate. On top of this, the government had to take full responsibility for security following UNMIL's major drawdown in June 2016. The medium-term outlook is, however, more positive, but with significant downside risks. The robustness of Liberia’s recovery will depend on the effective diversification of the economy, development of strong institutions, and a smooth political transition.
Inflationary pressures increased during the first half of 2017. Headline inflation averaged 12.4% in the first half of 2017, compared with 7.3% the previous year, driven by the relatively fast pace of the depreciation of the Liberian dollar against the U.S. dollar (of 20% in the first half of 2017 compared to 11% in the same period in 2016). Other factors include excess liquidity in terms of Liberian
Medium-term growth prospects remain positive. Real GDP growth is projected to recover driven by improvements in agriculture and services, and to some extent mining (particularly gold production) during the second part of 2017. Growth is estimated to reach an average of 3.6% by 2019. Recovery will be underpinned by the potential benefits of improved infrastructure development, namely more access to road transport networks and cheaper sources of electricity.
On the other hand, the country's current account deficit is projected to remain at 26% of GDP over the medium-term due to the anticipated decline in official transfers of money into the country. Commensurate with GDP per capita growth and
Last Updated: Oct 25, 2017