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State of Internal Security

The security concerns of the Liberian government were radically reshaped by the 1980 coup. Before that event, Liberian governments led by the True Whig Party and a faction of the Americo?Liberian elite were primarily concerned with the national trends in urbanization, modernization, and political disaffection that threatened their privileged position in the society. Using their control of the political apparatus, they had long been able to maintain social, political, and economic dominance over rivals in the Americo? Liberian community and over the indigenous majority that comprised more than 95 percent of the country's population. But politics as usual and True Whig prominence were suddenly terminated by 17 young enlisted men from the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), who used their weapons to bypass the established political system and assassinate President William R. Tolbert.

After taking power as leader of the People's Redemption Council (PRC), Doe was mainly concerned with solidifying his control over the government and the country. In his first four years as head of state, he ruled with a firm hand and was successful in bringing order out of the postcoup chaos, in becoming Liberia's dominant political figure, and in defending against various real and suspected plots to overthrow his regime. In 1984 observers noted that the identity of the next civilian president would, to a large extent, depend upon how Doe, as the incumbent head of state, defined who and what constituted a security threat to Liberia.

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