Africa owes a debt of gratitude to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
But now they barely speak, and he has subjected her to blistering public attacks. Why?
She has said to him, according to reports, that she is not going to hand him the presidency, and he will have to work for it.
“We’re asking her — the Unity Party is her party, it’s the party that would bear her legacy and she ought to be supporting it,” he said in an interview in February.
Where he sees a personal betrayal however, the rest of the world finds moral courage. Sirleaf is after all single-handedly responsible for keeping Liberia stable and unified for the past 12 years.
It is a role she has taken seriously enough that, at the beginning of the campaigns, she was forced to issue a stern warning to the 20 candidates jostling to replace her: “We hold them as political leaders who seek the highest office of our land to act with dignity and responsibility that befits that office — to live up to their commitments to ensure violence-free elections,” she said.
It is of course a necessary ritual to note that Sirleaf, who is stepping down after two six-year terms in office and who has won the Nobel Peace Prize, is far from perfect.
Corruption remains a major problem — the country ranks 90 out of 176 countries in the 2016 corruption perception index by Transparency International. Even Sirleaf had to admit this in an address to the Liberian congress this year.
Added to this are accusations of nepotism after the president appointed her three sons to major posts in the government, albeit they were qualified for those positions.
Many of its youth are unhappy and express hopelessness as to present and future economic opportunities.
According to the United Nations, young people constitute more than 60 percent of the population, and youth employment is nearly 90 percent.