26 November 2009

Liberia: Hats Off To All For Peaceful Elections


A CLOSE KNOWLEDGE and deep appreciation of the wounds of electoral violence, including recent ones in some sisterly African counties, would compel any patriotic Liberian to sigh a relief for the peaceful passing of the last action-packed by-election. In Zimbabwe and Kenya for instance, though the former political adversaries are dinning together, families are still mourning the death of loved ones; thousands are languishing in refugee camps either in their own land or in neighboring countries; bloods of hatred and vengeance are boiling, and generally peace is acutely fragile in those countries. Courtesy of election violence!

THE LAST BY-ELECTION as well as its intriguing politics forced Liberia to the edge of violent conflict and national disorder. The nation was highly polarized. The war drums sounded. Some men and women were in full preparedness to spare a life for the political victory of their candidates. This was particularly clear and nearly inevitable when the National Elections Commission, amid fears of fraud and alarms of violence, faltered in its statutory obligation evidenced by untold irregularities and disorganizations confirmed by independent observers and acknowledged later by the Commission itself.

PROVIDENCE BEING ON the side of Liberia, the storm has passed over without incidence and the nation's fragile post-war peace remains un-fractured. Both the fears of fraud and the alarms of violence have turn out to be doomsayers' figments. The National Elections Commission, admittedly learning from the chaos-prone experience of the first round of polls, has successfully navigated by-election voyage from a tumultuous seas of violence and anchored to the calm shore of serenity and peace.

THUS, JAMES FLOMOYAN and his folks at the NEC, we must admit in categorical terms, that they deserve commendations for a job well done. They have proved critics wrong on account of allegations that they were inept, out for cheat and sailing the nation toward conflict and hostilities. As anyone can see clearly, both admirers and detractors of the NEC are now together singing "hosanna" not because victory goes to the much-feared violence-prone CDC, but in acknowledgement of the professional, capable and peaceful manner the by-election, or at least the rerun, was conducted.

THE RULING Unity Party--its executives, strategists as well as "foot soldiers"--must be commended for exhibiting maturity and "fatherliness" over the electoral process, even though it was a tough frontrunner. We so extend our thanks because, ruling parties in Liberia and elsewhere in Africa hardly gracefully bow to, let alone permit, electoral defeat. That the Unity Party, despite the hovering temptations of taking hostage the electoral process, allowed a milestone waterloo, is a cause to say "hats off" to it.

WE ALSO THANK the victorious party and its opposition allies who, largely feared for provoking electoral turmoil, exercised restraint and repressed the instinct of violence throughout the by-elections. A populous party, with no identifiable membership mechanism, naturally has difficult times controlling its masses of members and affiliates. The CDC was up to the challenge and not a single tyre was burned or a windshield broken. Thank you, "massescrats".

OUR COMMENDATIONS ALSO go to the electorates, who braved and defied the claws of political or voter apathy and came out twice to exercise their democratic franchises. During both the first and second rounds of balloting, the anti-elections propaganda was strong for weak minds to resist. In fact, some elements, knowingly or unknowingly, paraded with the saying "why vote for people who get their jobs and turn their backs on the people"; and "the time I take to vote can be used to find a cup of rice for my family." These apathetic sayings dosed some eligible voters up, and many fell prey. Overcoming such a democratically deadly propaganda is politically heroic, and we are thankful to the survivals. By casting your vote, you said in effect, "no to tyranny!"; "no to the old order!" and "no to the culture of silence!" Great thanks.

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