Samuel Kanyon Doe (May 6, 1951 – September 9, 1990) was the leader of Liberia from 1980 to 1990. He served as chairman of the People’s Redemption Council and de facto head of state from 1980 until his election as the 21st President of Liberia in 1985. He was the first indigenous head of state in Liberian history. Doe was a part of a rural tribe in inland Liberia. The Krahn are a minority ethnic group but part of the large majority of the Liberian population that are of indigenous descent. These groups faced economic and political domination by the Americo-Liberian elites, who were descended from free-born and formerly enslaved blacks from America who founded Liberia in 1847. Under Doe, Liberian ports were opened to Canadian, Chinese and European ships, which brought in considerable foreign investment from foreign shipping firms and earned Liberia a reputation as a tax haven.
Doe attempted to legitimize his regime with a new constitution in 1984 and elections in 1985. However, opposition to his rule only increased, especially after the 1985 elections which were declared to be fraudulent by the U.S. and other foreign observers. In the late 1980s, as fiscal austerity took hold in the United States and the threat of Communism declined with the waning of the Cold War, the U.S. became disenchanted with entrenched corruption in Doe’s government and began cutting off critical foreign aid to Doe. This, combined with the popular anger generated by Doe’s favoritism toward his native Krahn tribe, placed him in a very precarious position.
A civil war began in December 1989, when rebels’ intent on toppling Doe entered Liberia through Côte d’Ivoire. Doe’s forces were defeated. He was captured and overthrown on 9 September 1990. Following his capture, he was tortured before being executed, and his body was dismembered and eaten by his captors.
Charles McArthur Ghankay Taylor (born 28 January 1948) is a former Liberian politician who was the 22nd President of Liberia, serving from 2 August 1997 until his resignation on 11 August 2003.
Born in Arthington, Montserrado County, Liberia, Taylor earned a degree at Bentley College in the United States before returning to Liberia to work in the government of Samuel Doe. After being removed for embezzlement, he eventually arrived in Libya, where he was trained as a guerilla fighter. He returned to Liberia in 1989 as the head of a Libyan-backed resistance group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, to overthrow the Doe regime, initiating the First Liberian Civil War (1989–96). Following Doe’s execution, Taylor gained control of a large portion of the country and became one of the most prominent warlords in Africa. Following a peace deal that ended the war, Taylor coerced the population into electing him president in the 1997 general election.
During his term of office, Taylor was accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity as a result of his involvement in the Sierra Leone Civil War (1991–2002). Domestically, opposition to his regime grew, culminating in the outbreak of the Second Liberian Civil War (1999–2003). By 2003, he had lost control of much of the countryside and was formally indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. That year, he resigned as a result of growing international pressure and went into exile in Nigeria. In 2006, the newly elected President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf formally requested his extradition, after which he was detained by UN authorities in Sierra Leone and then at the Penitentiary Institution Haaglanden in The Hague, awaiting trial.He was found guilty in April 2012 of all eleven charges levied by the Special Court, including terror, murder and rape.[ In May he was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Reading the sentencing statement, Presiding Judge Richard Lussick said: "The accused has been found responsible for aiding and abetting as well as planning some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history