People's Redemption Council
The People's Redemption Council (PRC) was the military junta that was installed as the primary governing body of Liberia after Samuel Doe's coup d'etat on April 12, 1980.
The Council, with Doe as its chairman, promised a complete overhaul of Liberia's society, economy, and political system and the replacement of the corruption of previous regimes with respect for the rights of the Liberian people. The PRC had 17 founding members and was later expanded to 28. The PRC initially functioned as the executive and legislative body in Doe's government. However, over time Doe consolidated power as a central executive. In 1984, the PRC was dissolved and replaced by the Interim National Assembly.
On 12 April 1980, Samuel K. Doe led a group of 17 soldiers in a coup d'état that overthrew and killed then-president William Tolbert. By 16 April 1980, Doe's forces were able to begin consolidating power. The group formed the People's Redemption Council as the supreme legislative and executive power with Doe as its chairman. In the wake of the coup, the PRC emphasized a goal of creating a new system of governance and societal organization rooted in support for the country's commoners. Doe, as a native Liberian, claimed to be seeking equality of rights and of status among all Liberians.
Shortly after its formation, the PRC authorized the arrest of over 100 former government officials from the Tolbert administration. Several of them were executed in the weeks following the coup.
In its first fiscal year, the PRC increased military spending by 150%, which critics used to question body's commitment to a transition towards democracy. By early 1981, Liberian debt had nearly reached $800 million. Under the PRC, Liberia's economy remained dependent on income from abroad. In mid-1981, the PRC created the National Constitutional Commission (NCC), the Constitutional Advisory Assembly (CAA), and Special Elections Commission (SEC) to, respectively, write a new constitution, revise the newly drafted constitution, and run democratic elections.
Shortly after its founding, Doe and the PRC increased the size of the body. Three of these new members were former officials from the Tolbert administration. Over time, conflict between military and civilian members led to division between progressives and conservatives, especially along ethnic lines. Some PRC members criticized their fellow councilmen for engaging in the very corruption that they publicly disavowed. In 1982, Doe and military PRC members executed several civilian PRC members who opposed them, which effectively ended the intra-council conflict.
By December 1982, the NCC had completed its task of drafting a constitution. Despite disagreements between the PRC and the NCC concerning the timeline of a transition, the NCC's draft was submitted to the CAA for revision. After their revisions were completed in late 1983, a referendum took place on 3 July 1984, that ratified the constitution.
With the ratification of the new constitution in 1984, the PRC was dissolved and replaced with the Interim National Assembly (INA) on 22 July 1984.