David Kpomakpor

Professor David Duwor Kpomakpor
Source: Death Announcement, tlcafrica
Chairman, Council of State of the Liberian National Transitional Government I (LNTG I)
Term: May 1994 – September 1995

Professor David Duwor Kpomakpor was born on September 28, 1935 in Klay Township, Bomi County. He was the first educated person in his family, schooled at Klay Baptist Mission and Lott Cary Mission Schools. A Mississippi missionary impressed with the young scholar got him into the College of West Africa where he earned his high school diploma in 1953. He graduated third in his class and received a scholarship to the San Francisco State University where he obtained his BA in Industrial Arts in 1965.

He furthered his education at the University of Liberia Law School, obtaining his Bachelors of Law in 1968. Kpomakpor subsequently earned a Masters of Comparative Law from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1970. Back in Liberia, he became a faculty member at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia in 1974 and later became a full professor. He held several other positions including a member of the Constitution Drafting Commission between 1981 and 1984. The Professor later served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court from 1987 to 1990.

During Liberia’s disastrous civil war, he served as the first Chairman of the Council of State of the Liberian National Transitional Government (LNTG). This first LNTG headed by a five-member Council of State was established by the Cotonou Agreement in July 1993, replacing the Interim Government of National Unity (INGU). Signatories to the agreement were the IGNU and two rebel groups (NPFL and ULIMO). Political wrangling between the various parties prevented the installation of the Council and caused the replacement of Bismark Kuyon with Philip Banks in November 1993 as its Chairperson. It was finally decided in February 1994 that Kpomakpor would head the Council.

The Council was finally seated on March 7, 1994 with David Kpomakpor as Chairman, along with Dexter Tayhor of ULIMO, Mohammed Sherif of ULIMO, Issac Mussah of NPFL, and Philip Banks of the IGNU as Vice Chairs. According to Price, Kpomakpor’s

…reputation as incorruptible, and perhaps a bit naïve, made him a superb candidate for the warlords who were looking to install an uncomplicated figurehead for the government. Rancor among the three parties on the distribution of government ministries and agencies once again brought to the fore what is found to be one of the greatest ills in the Liberian society, which is self-interest… Most of those involved with the political process became more concerned with securing or enhancing their standing in the new political order that crucial issue of disarmament was relegated.

-Jason Price

Amara Essy (left), of Cote d'Ivoire, with David Kpomakpor (right) at the UN. 07 October 1994
Amara Essy (left), of Cote d’Ivoire, President of the 49th session of the UN General Assembly, with David Kpomakpor (right) at the UN. 07 October 1994
Source: United Nations

The interim leaders had little power beyond the capital or over the various warlords and uprisings. Regardless, Kpomakpor was able to represent and address the United Nations General Assembly in October 1994. There he thanked the UN for promoting world peace and expressed heartfelt gratitude to ECOMOG for its dedication to peace in Liberia.

He also noted that in response to such conflicts: “The result is that the international community sometimes reacts with what may amount to short-cut solutions. Often attempts at resolving some of these conflicts unwittingly overlook the intransigence and recalcitrance of warlords who were the ones primarily responsible for bringing untold suffering and deprivation to their own people. These conflicts also create lucrative opportunities for arms dealers and international supporters of warlords.” (UN, 1994).

During Kpomakpor’s term, Charles Julu along with the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) staged a coup to overthrow the LNTG. Julu was defeated by ECOMOG and escaped unharmed, although there were some casualties in the process.

Kpomakpor headed the Council from March 1994 to September 1995 when he was succeeded by Wilton Sankawulo. After his tenure, Kpomakpor lived on a military base under the protection of peacekeepers who broke into his home and took all of his belongings.

With failing health, he returned to the US in 1997 and settled in the Park Hill housing project on Staten Island. When Price did the documentary on the Professor, Kpomakpor was 71 years old, living alone in his Park Hill apartment and required 24 hour nursing care. He lived like this and on welfare for over a decade.

Professor Kpomakpor died on August 19, 2010 at the Staten Island University Hospital in Staten Island, New York. He was laid to rest in New Jersey, USA. Conditions pertaining to his last days in a nursing home and subsequent burial in the US have brought some criticism to the Liberian government for failing to provide a pension scheme for its former leaders.


Adebajo, Adekeye. Liberia’s Civil War : Nigeria, ECOMOG, and Regional Security in West Africa. Boulder, Colo.: L. Rienner, 2002. Print.

Address by Mr. David Kpomakpor, Chairman of the Council of State of the Liberian National Transitional Government of the Republic of Liberia. UN General Assembly 49th Session 22nd Meeting. The UN. 07 Oct. 1994. Web.

Butty, James. Liberian Official Insists the Government Takes Care of Its Former Presidents. Voice of America. 31 Aug. 2010. Web.

Dunn, D. Historical Dictionary of Liberia / D. Elwood Dunn, Amos J. Beyan, Carl Patrick Burrowes. 2nd ed. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2001. Print.

Fleischman, Janet. Easy Prey : Child Soldiers in Liberia. New York: Human Rights Watch, 1994. Print.

Price, Jason. The Professor. 2007. Web.

Williams, Gabriel I.H. Book of Condolence of Chairman David Kpomakpor at Liberian Embassy in D.C. 24 Aug. 2010. The Liberian Perspective. Web.

U.S. Policy in Liberia. Hearing before the Subcommittee on Africa of the committee on foreign affairs House of Representatives One Hundred Third Congress Second Session. 18 May 1994. U.S. Government Printing Office. Washington, 1995. Web.