November 23, 2005 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is officially declared the next President of Liberia, making her the first elected female African head of state.
A Harvard graduate and former Finance Minister, she fled Liberia after the 1980 coup for a career in various banking institutions. She returned for good to contest the 1997 presidential elections, in which she finished a distant second to Charles Taylor. Once again, she went into exile. She tried again for the presidency in 2005, where her main rival was former Liberian footballer George Weah. Despite finishing behind Weah in the first round, she won the run-off vote with almost 60 percent of ballots cast. The result was contested but on November 23, Sirleaf was declared the winner, before taking office the following January. In November 2011 she was one of three women awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her
“non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights.”
Also on November 23: Sweden carries out the death penalty for the last time (1910); Thomas McMahon is sentenced to life in prison for the IRA bombing that killed Lord Mountbatten (1979); around 4,800 people are killed in a series of earthquakes in southern Italy (1980).
Born on November 23: Billy the Kid (1859), Boris Karlov (1887), Merv Hughes (1961), Vincent Cassel (1966), Miley Cyrus (1992).
Back in the Day: Africa's first female head of state