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Liberian president disbands entire Cabinet

By Faith Karimi, CNN
Liberia President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf addresses the United Nations headquarters in New York, September 24, 2010.
Liberia President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf addresses the United Nations headquarters in New York, September 24, 2010.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf appoints deputies in their places
  • It provides an opportunity to start with a fresh slate, she says
  • She makes the announcement at an emergency meeting
  • Johnson-Sirleaf is currently the only elected female head of state in Africa
RELATED TOPICS
  • Liberia

(CNN) -- The Liberian president dismissed all but one of her Cabinet ministers this week in a move she says will help give her administration a fresh start.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf announced Thursday that she has asked her Cabinet to "take administrative leave effective immediately."

She made the announcement during an emergency meeting the night before.

The administration is entering a critical stretch and this provides an opportunity to start with a fresh slate, she said in a news release.

Johnson-Sirleaf -- currently the only elected female head of state in Africa -- is up for re-election next year.

The mandate will not create a power vacuum, she said.

Designated deputies will take over until Cabinet leaders are asked to return or their successors appointed, according to the statement.

"Cabinet restructuring will be made in the shortest possible time and ... several ministers could be reappointed," she said.

The president urged commitment from those who will make it to the next phase.

"I want this administration to be the most effective going forward," she said.

Ministers who are overseas on assignment will not be affected by the directive until they complete their missions.

One minister retained his position amid the shakeup.

Edward McClain, the minister of state for presidential affairs, will work with Vice President Joseph Boakai while the president is out of the country.

Other government agencies may also undergo a shakeup, according to the president.

The Harvard-educated economist and grandmother of eight took the helm in 2006 after a bloody civil war that left her country in shambles. Liberia faced 14 years of civil war and strife under the Charles Taylor regime that ended in 2003.

Johnson-Sirleaf has said she is rallying world support to get the nation back on its feet.

The president's political resilience and tough reputation have earned her the nickname "Iron Lady."

The tiny west African nation has a population of about 3.4 million.