Ruth Perry

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Ruth Perry
Chairperson of the Council of State of Liberia
In office
3 September 1996 – 2 August 1997
Preceded by Wilton Sankawulo
Succeeded by Charles Taylor (President)
Personal details
Born (1939-07-16) 16 July 1939 (age 75)
Grand Cape Mount, Liberia
Political party Unity Party
Alma mater University of Liberia

Ruth Sando Fahnbulleh Perry (born July 16, 1939) was Chairwoman of the Council of State of Liberia from 3 September 1996 until 2 August 1997, following the First Liberian Civil War.[1] The Council of State consisted of a civilian chair, as well as members: Charles Taylor, United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy-K leader Alhaji Kromah, Liberia Peace Council leader George Boley, and two other civilians.

She is known for being the first female president of Liberia.[1] Liberia also has the distinction of electing Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the first female African leader in modern times.

Following elections held in July 1997, Perry handed power to Charles Taylor on 2 August.


Perry was born July 16, 1939, in a rural area of Grand Cape Mount County, Liberia, the daughter of Marjon and AlHaji Semila Fahnbulleh.[2] She is a Muslim of Vai ethnic ancestry.[2] As a child, Perry participated in the Sande society, a traditional school and secret society for females,[2] and attended regular classes. Her parents later enrolled her in a Roman Catholic school for girls in Monrovia run by missionary nuns.[2]

Perry graduated from the Teachers College of the University of Liberia.[2] She worked as an elementary school teacher in Grand Cape Mount County.[2]

She married McDonald Perry, a judge and legislator and they had seven children, one of whom, Georgia Jebbeh Perry, resides in the state of Rhode Island with her husband Augustus Duncan and their 5 children. Her other children, including the late Cecelia Marjon Goodridge who resided in Ohio with her husband Spencer Goodridge and their 5 children, take residence in several states across the United States and some still live in Liberia.[2] After her children were grown, Perry worked in the Monrovia office of Chase Manhattan Bank in 1971 and taught at a Sande school as an elder.[2]

In 1985, Perry won a seat in the Liberian Senate[3] as a Unity Party candidate. In response to Samuel Doe's presidential election after calling elections, Unity Party office-holders and other official opposition politicians boycotted the Senate in protest, asserting that the Doe government was illegitimate. Perry did not join the boycott and became the lone member of the opposition in the Assembly[2] and served until 1989. Afterward, Perry launched a retail business and became active in civilian groups such as Women Initiative in Liberia, Women in Action for Goodwill, and the Association of Social Services that sought an end to the growing Liberian Civil War.[2]

On August 17, 1996, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) representatives negotiated a cease-fire between Liberia's warring factions and announced that Perry would replace Wilton Sankawulo as chair of the Council of State in an interim government. Reportedly all four warlords in the Liberian conflict had agreed to the peace agreement with Perry as interim leader.[2]

In 2004, she was an African President-in-Residence at the African Presidential Archives and Research Center at Boston University.[4]


Political offices
Preceded by
Wilton Sankawulo
Chairperson of the Council of State of Liberia

Succeeded by
Charles Taylor
as President of Liberia