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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 August, 2003, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Liberia's new consensus leader
Gyude Bryant
Gyude Bryant stayed in Liberia throughout the conflict
Gyude Bryant is the politician entrusted to lead Liberia into a peaceful, democratic future.

However, he is not considered a political heavyweight, and he will need to establish his credibility to a war-weary nation sceptical of leaders that have let them down before.

As a Christian leader and a businessman, he is viewed as a political neutral, which is what helped to secure his appointment by the warring factions at peace talks in Ghana.

"I have lived there throughout all these problems, and I see myself as a healer," he told AP news agency.

But the BBC's Jonathan Paye-Layeleh in Monrovia says Liberians have expressed surprise that he has been given the task of uniting a country practically in ruins after being fought over for more than a decade.

However, his comments after being appointed suggest he already has a clear idea of what needs to be done when he takes over in October.

Mr Bryant said his priorities were:

  • Working with the UN to hold elections
  • Demobilising fighters
  • Establishing and maintaining order
  • Restoring basic services such as electricity

The 54-year-old is tall and is known for wearing flowing white shirts. He is married with three grown-up children.

Tough job

He comes from the southern Grebo ethnic group - which has not played a major role in the conflict.

Unlike many others Liberians, he remained in the country during all the upheavals in recent years.

Liberia refugee

As a businessman, he imports heavy machinery. He also holds a prominent position in the Episcopal Church, one of Liberia's main religious denominations.

He is chairman of the Liberia Action Party which was one of the political parties to be harshly critical of both former President Charles Taylor and of the rebels.

Many credit the party with winning the 1985 presidential and legislative elections when the military leader, Samuel Kanyon Doe, declared himself the victor.

Mr Bryant was elected chairman of the LAP in 1992 and continued to wage a campaign of democratic opposition when Mr Taylor came to power.

Although he will lead the new government, the two rebel groups and allies of Mr Taylor will hold half of the cabinet seats.

Mr Bryant may have a tough job getting the former enemies to work together for a more peaceful and prosperous future.

Wesley Johnson of the United Peoples' Party was chosen as his deputy.

Mr Bryant will replace interim leader Moses Blah, who himself took over on a temporary basis from Charles Taylor who stepped down and went into exile in August.

The BBC's Alastair Leithead
"He'll be taking up his position in October"


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