WASHINGTON (AP) – Citing its strides toward democracy, President Barack Obama on Thursday lifted economic sanctions against Liberia that had been in place for more than a decade.
Obama notified congressional leaders in a letter, saying his decision was based on pro-democracy moves by the West African nation since it emerged from civil war in 2003. He also cited the “orderly development” of its political, administrative and economic institutions, including presidential elections in 2005 and 2011 that were internationally recognized as being freely held.
Obama also noted the 50-year prison sentence handed down in 2012 to former Liberian President Charles Taylor as a result of his involvement in the civil war in Sierra Leone.
The previous White House had slapped Liberia with economic sanctions in July 2004 after determining that actions by Taylor and others posed a threat to U.S. foreign policy. The penalties were designed to deprive Taylor and others of funding and arms for conflicts in West Africa. Obama removed the penalties by executive order.
Ned Price, lead spokesman for the National Security Council, also commended Liberia’s response to a recent Ebola outbreak. World health officials declared the country Ebola-free in September.
Other upcoming milestones include the transfer of security responsibility from the U.N. Mission in Liberia next July, followed by presidential elections in 2017.
“Liberia and its people are up to these challenges, and the United States and our international partners will remain steadfast in our commitment to Liberia,” Price said. “Today’s announcement is one of what will surely be many more steps as Liberia continues to take charge of its future and live up to its full potential.”