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Democracy in Cambodia
Cambodia is a country in Southeast Asia that has struggled to maintain a robust democracy for nearly its entire history. For decades, military coups and civil war have made democracy difficult to implement in Cambodia. Generally, the international community has struggled to find a way to successfully institutionalize democracy within the country. Back in January 2019, U.S. congressman Ted Yoho introduced the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019 in order to deal with this problem. However, before delving into the details of the legislation, it is important to understand that democracy in Cambodia has a troubled history.  Furthermore, it is essential to understand how those troubles have prompted a response from U.S. lawmakers.

History of Democracy in Cambodia

Prime minister Hun Sen is a key piece in understanding why democracy has struggled to firmly take hold in Cambodia. He became prime minister of Cambodia in 1985. At the time, various armed factions had plunged the country into civil war.

In the early 1990s, a massive United Nations peacekeeping force attempted to disarm and bring ceasefire between the various factions, run national elections and promote democracy in Cambodia. Nearly 20,000 military, police and other personnel made up the force.

In 1991, the Paris Peace Accords officially brought the conflict to an end, which outlined basic protections for human rights. The agreement also promoted free and fair elections within the country.

The 1991 agreements led to the creation of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). The UNTAC facilitated national elections in 1993. During these elections, guerillas carried out violent attacks on U.N. peacekeepers. The Hun Sen-led Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) engaged in a massive campaign of violent intimidation against people who might vote against them.

The royalist Funcinpec party won the majority of seats in the National Assembly. Norodom Ranariddh, the son of the former Cambodian King Sihanouk, led the party. Hun Sen and the CPP did not accept the results of the election. As such, they were able to force their way into a power-sharing agreement. This ultimately allowed Sen to serve as deputy prime minister alongside Ranariddh.

However, this agreement broke down in 1997 when Hun Sen seized power from Ranariddh in a coup. Cambodia then elected him prime minister in the following elections. The CPP would go on to win elections in 1998, 2003, 2008, 2013 and 2018. In order to preserve his grip on the country, Hun Sen has wielded increasingly autocratic power to crush the opposition. In 2017, authorities arrested the leader of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), the leading opposition party to the CPP, on trumped-up charges of treason. Two months later, the Supreme Court suspended the CNRP entirely. In the 2018 elections, which international observers considered illegitimate, the CPP won more than 100 of the 125 contested seats in the National Assembly.

The Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019

Following Hun Sen’s crackdown on dissent prior to the 2018 elections, U.S. lawmakers became increasingly vocal about promoting democracy in Cambodia. Ted Yoho has been chief among these lawmakers. He is a Republican congressman representing Florida’s 3rd congressional district.

Yoho introduced the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2018 during the 115th Congress. The bill managed to pass in the House, but the Senate did not pass it. Yoho re-introduced the bill during the 116th Congress as the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019. Five Democrats and four Republicans co-sponsored the bill.

According to its description on GovTrack, the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019 aims to “promote free and fair elections, political freedoms, and human rights in Cambodia.” Specifically, the bill would authorize the president to impose various sanctions on Cambodia’s security, military and government senior officials. It would also authorize sanctions on those who might be undermining democracy in Cambodia and controlled by said individuals. The International Emergency Economic Powers Act outlined these sanctions. It includes economic sanctions such as asset freezes and visa restrictions. Penalties for undermining democracy would be the same as those under the IEEPA, which can reach fines of up to $1 million.

There is a 4 percent chance that Cambodia will enact the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019. This is an estimate according to Skopos Labs. However, Congressman Yoho is still confident about the bill’s prospects. In a phone interview with VOA Khmer, Yoho said, “We had a lot of bipartisan support last year and I think you’ll see the same amount this year…”

U.S. Support of Democracy in Cambodia

Overall, the fact that the legislation is drawing support from across party lines is an encouraging sign that the U.S. is willing to promote democracy in Cambodia. Additionally, there is a possibility that the U.S. could pressure the Hun Sen regime to put an end to its autocratic abuses of power.

– Andrew Bryant
Photo: Flickr

be a senator
The United States Congress is made up of two chambers: an upper chamber known as the Senate and a lower chamber known as the House of Representatives. This is modeled after the British Parliament bicameral (two chamber) system. In England, this system is composed of a House of Lords and a House of Commons.

Today, the United States Congress is made up of 100 senators and 435 representatives. That is two senators from each state and one representative from each of the 435 recognized congressional districts in the United States. Members of Congress are voted in by the public and serve a six-year term if elected to Senate and a two-year term if elected to the House of Representatives.

When one considers the history, size and power of the United States Congress, there are many questions that may come to mind. One common question asked is: how old do you have to be to be a senator? To answer this question, one can look to the United States Constitution for the answer.

The Constitution reads, “No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.” From this, one can see that the answer to the question of how old one must be to be a senator in the United States is a minimum of  30 years old.

Answering this question often leads to another question: why did the writers of the United States Constitution choose this age as opposed to other ages? In addition to the structure of the two chamber congress system, the framers of the Constitution also looked to England when trying to determine the details for what the requirements to be a member of Congress would be.

At the time of the writing of the United States Constitution, England’s law required members of Parliament to be a minimum of  21 years old. Though the United States did not adopt the same age requirement, the adoption of an age requirement at all was significant.

Ultimately, it was determined that one must be 25 years of age to be a representative in the House of Representatives, a number similar to England’s, and 30 years of age to be a senator. The answer to the question of why 30 is the age that was determined by the writers of the Constitution is addressed by James Madison in The Federalist, No.  62. Madison explained that because of Senate’s deliberative nature, the “senatorial trust,” called for a “greater extent of information and stability of character,” than would be needed in the more democratic House of Representatives.

The United States Congress is a complex and integral part of the United States government. When determining the requirements to be a member of Congress, the framers of the Constitution had many factors to consider. Ultimately, they determined that as far as the requirement of age went, 30 was the appropriate age for a member of the Senate.

– Nicole Stout

Photo: Flickr

Resolution Introduced to Senate to Support World Tuberculosis Day
On March 19th, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio introduced S.Res. 437 to the Senate, which is a resolution that seeks to affirm the U.S. fight against tuberculosis and guarantee support of World Tuberculosis Day, while also trying to increase general awareness of the disease.

Extent of Tuberculosis

The resolution shares several alarming statistics about tuberculosis from 2016, and the extent to which the disease affected people that year:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) assessed that 10.4 million became infected with tuberculosis.
  • Around 1.7 million people lost their lives that year due to the illness.
  • Around the world, one million children became infected with the disease, and 250,000 lost their lives because of it.
  • Among HIV-negative people, tuberculosis was believed to cause 80 percent of deaths in both Africa and South Asia, and 33 percent of deaths occurred in India.
  • Currently, the resolution states that a quarter of the world’s entire population is infected with tuberculosis.

In an article about World Tuberculosis Day 2018, WHO stated that tuberculosis is the most prevalent in people who live in poverty, marginalized communities and otherwise vulnerable groups.

Goals for World Tuberculosis Day

The introduction of this resolution to the Senate indicates that the U.S. will continue its efforts to fight against the disease. The resolution has three specific aims:

  • To support World Tuberculosis Day and continue to raise awareness about the disease.
  • To applaud the efforts of various organizations to fight against tuberculosis; for instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.
  • A general goal to increase the role of the U.S. as a leader in the fight against the disease, and to continue to improve the overall global response to this issue.

The U.S. has already made an important impact in fighting tuberculosis: “USAID remains committed to saving millions of lives by ending the tuberculosis epidemic by 2030,” wrote USAID Administrator Mark Green in a statement released on World Tuberculosis Day.

United State’s Role in Fighting the Disease

Green also pointed out in his statement that the effects of tuberculosis are not just physical. It is also harmful in terms of a country’s economy, because those affected by the disease can lose three to four months of work, and subsequently over one-fourth of their income while fighting the disease.

The Senate resolution notes that USAID currently assists 23 countries with high rates of tuberculosis by providing support in the form of financial and technical aid. This aid is used to pursue the creation of new tools to both detect and treat the disease; it is also applied towards research for vaccines.

A Goal of Eradication

Since 2000, the assistance and funding from USAID and the U.S. more broadly has resulted in a decrease in the incidence of tuberculosis by one-fifth. However, despite the progress being made to eliminate the disease, the high rates of infection and death among people living in poverty makes tuberculosis the top infectious-disease that leads to death around the world.

This resolution is an important declaration that the U.S. will continue to raise awareness of tuberculosis, and pursue the ultimate goal of permanently eradicating the disease.

– Jennifer Jones

Photo: Flickr

What are the requirements for serving in the House?
The House of Representatives is one of two chambers of Congress, which is the legislative branch of the federal government that is tasked with creating and passing national laws. Like the Senate, the House of Representatives was established by the U.S. Constitution. The House first convened in 1789. Today, the nation is witnessing the 115th United States Congress.

This current meeting of Congress will end in 2019, just after the new year. In anticipation of this upcoming changeover, congressional elections are taking place throughout the country later this year. In light of these elections, many people may be asking: what are the requirements for serving in the House?

Outlined by the Constitution, there are three simple requirements to serve in the House of Representatives. In order to become a representative, candidates must be:

  1. At least 25 years of age
  2. A citizen of the United States for at least seven years
  3. A resident of the state they wish to represent at the time of election

With the exception of the age minimum – which was initially set at 21, the voting age at the time – these requirements have remained largely unchanged. Of course, these criteria only partially answer the question, “what are the requirements for serving in the House?” Any additional requirements are established by the individual states. For instance, some states also require that House candidates live in the district that they intend to represent, while others do not.

Congress is the only branch of the federal government that is directly elected by the people. The House of Representatives is the largest Congressional body, and the Constitution dictates that seats in the House be allocated based on the population of each individual state. To ensure that representatives adhere to their namesake by representing the will of their electorate, the Constitution requires representatives to stand for election every two years, hence the 2018 midterm elections currently taking place.

Though the requirements for serving in the House are straightforward, the requirements for appearing on a ballot come with additional considerations. Specific ballot filing requirements are determined by the individual states. Generally, anyone who meets the Constitutional requirements and wishes to run for a seat in the House of Representatives must accumulate a certain number of signatures on a petition and/or pay registration fees to the state.

The road to election may be rigorous, but the barriers to entry into the race for a seat in the House are few. Anyone who meets the three Constitutional requirements and the criteria of their state of residence is free to campaign to serve within the House of Representatives.

– Chantel Baul

Photo: Flickr

Senator Cory Booker
With people looking ahead to the 2020 presidential election, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is in the spotlight for many Americans. Advocacy for foreign aid and establishing good relations with other countries have been prioritized in his campaign and throughout his congressional leadership. This advocacy is reflected in his speech, campaigning and most importantly, his sponsorship and co-sponsorship of several bills.

AGOA & MCA Modernization Act

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Millennium Challenge Act (MCA) have already gone into effect and have been successful in sub-Saharan African countries. Senator Booker supports updating these acts, which will enhance the successes the U.S. is seeing from the original laws. Modernizing these programs will benefit the U.S. by increasing transportation, communication and energy networks, and will open the U.S. market to these sub-Saharan African countries.

READ Act

As a Rhodes Scholar recipient, it is not surprising that Senator Booker cares deeply about education. Booker co-sponsored the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act (READ Act) to support the right to basic education in developing nations. The READ Act partners with impoverished nations to develop a quality curriculum, stabilize the education system and help children become successful in literacy and numeracy. Achieving these goals will increase the number of skilled workers in the future, which will benefit the nation’s development.

Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act of 2018

Another example of Senator Booker’s interest in humanitarian and foreign aid is his co-signing of the Burma Human Rights and Freedom Act of 2018. This bill calls for U.S. action and aid regarding the thousands of displaced Rohingya people of Burma. Booker agrees that the U.S. should invest $104 million of foreign aid in Burma to help the victims of the Burmese civil war, restore the nation’s economy and establish democracy in the nation. It will also call for those responsible for crimes against humanity to be held accountable.

Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act of 2017

Senator Booker and several other senators, both Republican and Democrat, co-signed the Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act of 2017. This bill would hold Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad accountable for his war crimes and brutalities against Syrian people over the last seven years. As stated on his official website, Booker sees the issue of violent extremism, whether foreign or domestic, as a priority issue for Congress.

Combating Global Corruption Act of 2017

The Combating Global Corruption Act of 2017 aims to decrease corruption in designated countries. Many countries, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa, struggle with government corruption and very little is being done about it. Senator Booker has already expressed his concern for the ongoing political crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, so it comes as no surprise that he co-signed this bill to alleviate global corruption.

As a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, Senator Booker supports several foreign policy and aid bills that The Borgen Project advocates for. His hard work, advocacy and relentless fight for humanitarian aid and foreign relations for the U.S. make Senator Cory Booker one of the most popular junior senators America has seen.

– Courtney Hambrecht

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Nita Lowey
Representative Nita Lowey has been a key Congressional proponent for prioritizing educational opportunity in foreign aid and development programs. She is an outspoken advocate for women, children and families, championing issues related to education in the United States and abroad.

Currently serving her 15th term in Congress representing New York’s 17th district, Rep. Lowey was the first woman to serve as a Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Nita Lowey, along with Congressmen Dave Reichert, introduced the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act, to enhance transparency and accelerate the impact of U.S. basic education programs around the world. The READ Act passed into law on September 8, 2017.

The READ Act calls for:

  • Engagement with key partner countries and nongovernmental institutions to promote sustainable, quality basic education.
  • A comprehensive, integrated U.S. strategy that improves educational opportunities and addresses key barriers to school attendance, retention and completion for the poorest children worldwide.
  • A senior coordinator within the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to oversee the education aspects of foreign aid.
  • An annual report to Congress on the implementation of the basic education strategy and progress achieved by USAID programs.

Worldwide, more than 263 million children and youth are out of school. In addition, 250 million primary school age children are lacking basic literacy and numeracy skills. Studies have shown that for every year a girl stays in school, her future income increases by 15 to 25 percent.

Rep. Nita Lowey strongly believes that prioritizing education around the world will “ultimately protect vulnerable children from poverty, disease, hunger and even extremism.”

On why the READ Act is such an important piece of legislation, Rep. Lowey’s Press Secretary Mike Burns told The Borgen Project:

“Without a doubt, education is the greatest force multiplier in foreign aid. The READ Act will enhance our global education efforts, removing barriers to education for those out of school and improving the quality of education for those already enrolled. Prioritizing education around the world will not only help students learn to read and write—it will ultimately help protect vulnerable communities from hunger and disease and increase economic advancement, particularly for girls and women.

“Simply put, by putting education at the center of our efforts, this bill moves us further down the path to building the world we want for ourselves and for future generations. This is a tremendous bipartisan achievement.”

Rep. Nita Lowey continues to be a leading Congressional proponent of educational opportunity, a leading international role for the United States, health care quality and biomedical research, stricter public safety laws, environmental protection, women’s issues, national security and improved homeland security preparedness.

– Sydney Lacey

Photo: Google

MyanmarIn 2011, Myanmar, the Southeast Asian country formerly known as Burma, began to transition to a democratic form of government after previously being under military rule for decades. This transition to a civilian-led government encouraged leaders of Myanmar’s economy to open their borders to foreign investment and reintegrate the country into the global economy.

Myanmar’s Isolated Past

Despite the country’s best efforts to catch up economically, Myanmar remains one of the poorest countries in Asia. Roughly 26 percent of the population’s 55 million people lives below the poverty line. This is a result of the isolationist policies that existed for years prior to the country opening its borders to the rest of the world. As a result, Myanmar suffers from poor infrastructure, underdeveloped human resources and deeply embedded government corruption.

As the country moves to a democratic form of rule, women have been finding ways to participate in a political system that was historically headed by men. A recent push for women in government in Myanmar’s last two elections in 2010 and 2015 shows the potential for more women representation and equality for women across the country.

Women in Government

On paper, Myanmar appears to be one of the most progressive countries in Asia when it comes to women in government. In 1935, women were given equal political participation rights in the constitution. Additionally, in 1995, Myanmar endorsed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. This aimed to remove obstacles for women in both the public and private spheres of life.

However, women’s ability to participate in Myanmar’s government has been relatively limited. Sixty years of military rule kept women from participating in any capacity in the decision-making process. Even today, though Myanmar appears to be progressive when it comes to gender equality, the reality is that there are relatively few women in government compared to men. In the 2010 elections, only 6 percent of national parliamentarians were women.

It is essential to include women in the government decision-making process as Myanmar attempts to address issues of poverty within their borders. Female representatives can bring new perspectives as the country continues to develop. Many groups exist to promote the inclusion of women in politics of Myanmar. One of the many active groups is Women Can Do It.

Women Can Do It

Women Can Do It (WCDI) is an organization dedicated to raising awareness and building self-confidence in women. Across the country, women influenced by this organization are encouraged to run for office and become change-makers for their communities.

Created in 2001, well before the country’s transition to democracy, WCDI is working to create a just, peaceful and gender-equitable society in Myanmar. One of its key goals is to get women involved in the government decision-making process on issues of peace and development nationwide. This includes some of the aforementioned issues like addressing poor infrastructure, inadequate human resources, and fighting corruption.

WCDI works in five primary sectors:

  • Capacity Building
  • Research and Advocacy
  • Campaign
  • Media and Publication
  • Sisterhood Bonding

By focusing on these five sectors, WCDI educates women and pushes for more women in government across the country. The organization uses these five areas to give women a springboard from which to advance and become more involved in their communities. These efforts have great potential to improve the quality of life not only for its women, but for all of Myanmar’s citizens.

– Sonja Flancher

Photo: Flickr

qualifications to become a senatorThe legislative branch of the U.S. government, known as Congress, is made up of two different chambers. The lower chamber, the House of Representatives, is made up of 435 representatives who are also called Congressmen and Congresswomen. The number of Congressmen and Congresswomen in the House of Representatives is determined by the population in each congressional district.

The upper chamber, the Senate, is made up of 100 senators. Each state elects only two senators to ensure each state has equal representation. The Senate is meant to be the check to the House of Representatives.

Many people who wish to make a difference in their communities and country would wish to run for a political office, such as senate. However many ask, what are the qualifications to become a senator?

 

Age Requirement

Despite being the least known of the qualifications to become a senator, any person wanting to run for Senate must be at least 30 years old. This rule has been in place since the conception of the Senate with the creation of the constitution in 1787. However, in our history, the United States has had a couple of noticeable exceptions — the youngest senator to ever serve was Senator John Henry Eaton of Tennessee who was sworn in on November 17, 1818.

Senator Eaton was only 28 years old at the time, but due to inefficient birth records, this fact was not realized until after he took the oath. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware was the youngest to be sworn in while still aligning with all the qualifications to become a senator; when he was sworn in on January 1973, Senator Biden was 30 years old and 45 days.

 

United States Citizenship

To become a senator, a candidate must be a United States citizen for at least nine years. In this sense, they must be a legalized citizen but they can be from any other country in the world.

Some United States senators who were not born in the United States include Colorado’s Senator Michael Bennet who was born in India, Texan Senator Ted Cruz who was born in Canada and Senator Tammy Duckworth from Illinois who was born in Thailand.

 

Which State to Represent

When a person runs for Senate, they run for a certain state, such as Senator of Indiana or Senator of Florida. He or she must live in the state that they run for, not necessarily the state they were born in. For example, Former president and Senator Barack Obama was born in Hawaii but campaigned for Senate in the state of Illinois, where he was currently living.

There is no set amount of time that a person must live in the state he or she wishes to represent before running for Senate, just that the candidate must be a legal resident of that state.

 

Making a Difference

These constitutional requirements answer the question: “What are the qualifications to become a senator?” Many citizens who have run for Congress in the past have studied law, political science and public service, though a degree is not required. Also, many Congressmen and Congresswomen have military experience, though this is not required either.

These are some of the answers to the question of “what are the qualifications to become a senator?” Anyone who fits these qualifications can legally run for Senate in the United States and have the possibility to make a difference in their communities and the country as a whole.

– Courtney Wallace

Photo: Flickr

 

Read: How many Senators are there

 

How Old Do You Have to Be to Run for Congress?How old do you have to be to run for Congress? To hold a seat in the U.S. Senate, the youngest a person can be is 30 years old. However, one does not have to be 30 years old in order to run for Senate as long as they are 30 years old by the time that they are sworn in. For example, Joe Biden was 29 years old when he ran and was elected as a senator of Delaware.

Despite the fact that Biden was extremely young when he first took office in the Senate, he is only the fifth-youngest senator in U.S. history. The youngest senator in U.S. history is John Henry Eaton of Tennessee, who was 28 years old when he became a senator. Though Eaton was elected after the age requirement for the Senate was established in 1787, birth records were poorly kept during this time so it was much harder to guarantee that all candidates were of age.

The age requirement for the Senate was debated after establishing the age requirement for the House of Representatives, which was originally 21 years old, or the voting age at the time. The age was later increased to 25 years old after a move by George Mason of Virginia, who claimed that to hold a seat in the House, one should have time to get his or her own affairs in order before trying to manage a nation. This fact helps to answer the question “how old do you have to be to run for Congress?”

However, the age requirement for the House remained lower than many other positions because the founders wanted this legislative chamber to be closer to the people than any other chamber. Due to this desire, the founders were a lot less restrictive when establishing the requirements for the House. The restriction on age for the Senate is different because the founders felt that the greater responsibilities of Senators required those in office to have more knowledge and greater character stability than Representatives.

While Eaton was the youngest Senator in US history at 28 years old, William Charles Claiborne, also from Tennessee, was the youngest Representative ever. Claiborne, born in 1775, was 22 when he was elected as a Representative. Claiborne was later elected again, at age 24, while he still did not meet the age requirement.

Though the U.S. has elected quite a few Congressmen who are under the age requirement, this trend has not continued, as the average age of a U.S. Senator is 60 years old. However, some young people who have run for Congress recently are trying to encourage more young people to run for office and get more involved in politics.

“How old do you have to be to run for Congress?” was a question that went through the mind of Erin Schrode. Schrode, a woman from Marin County, California, began a campaign for Congress when she was only 24. Schrode did not win the 2016 election for House of Representatives, but if she had, she would have been the youngest ever Congresswoman. This title is currently held by Elise Stefanik, who was 30 years old when she was elected to be a Representative in 2014.

Schrode claims that she never intended to get involved in politics, but after seeing her mother’s dedication to her work towards combating skyrocketing cancer rates, Schrode developed a passion for politics. She believes that more young people should run for Congress because 35 percent of the U.S. population is under the age of 30, but people under 30 rarely hold Congressional seats.

– Haley Rogers

Photo: Flickr

Retired international soccer star George Weah won the Liberian presidential election on December 26, 2017, succeeding Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The election marked the first peaceful transfer of power in Liberia since 1944.

President-elect Weah defeated Vice President Joseph Boakai, 73. Weah, internationally known for earning the African, European and World Player of the Year in 1995, has served as a senator since 2015. Weah, 51, received the most votes in the first round of the presidential election in October 2017.

Liberty Party nominee Charles Brumskine, who received less than 10 percent of the vote, delayed the final round of voting by accusing election fraud in a case that went to the Liberian Supreme Court. Multiple bodies, including the National Election Commission, found the election was fair. The U.N. Security Council and the White House delivered public statements commending the peaceful transfer of power in Liberia and praising the Liberian people and government.

Liberia, a country founded by freed American slaves, has experienced decades of civil war, and the 2014 Ebola epidemic killed more people in Liberia than anywhere else in the world. The West African nation is currently facing extreme poverty and issues stemming from it.

Liberia has the seventh-highest maternal mortality rate, female genital cutting affects more than two-thirds of women and girls and less than 50 percent of the population older than 15 can read and write. Moreover, 60 percent of the population is under 25. Nevertheless, the U.N. reduced its troop presence in Liberia in July 2016, and the country has the highest annual reduction rate in infant and child mortality in Africa.

In his victory speech, Weah applauded the Liberian people and said, “[T]he best way to celebrate Liberians is to improve their lives…through public governance.” He encouraged investors to come to Liberia and stressed the importance of private investment in rebuilding the economy.

Weah also thanked his predecessor, Johnson Sirleaf, who became the first elected female African head of state in 2005. “We promise to follow your footsteps in protecting the rights of Liberians and providing even greater freedoms,” Weah said.

Weah’s Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor sat next to him during his victory speech. Howard- Taylor’s ex-husband is serving a 50-year prison sentence for crimes against humanity. However, she proved to have vastly different policy ideas than her previous partner during her tenure as a senator.

While Weah certainly will face obstacles during his administration, the global community is hopeful that progress will continue in Liberia. Democratic leaders have a renewed sense of optimism for the country after this peaceful transfer of power in Liberia.

– Sean Newhouse

Photo: Flickr