The nine presidential candidates who participated in the second in a series of debates have unanimously agreed not to recognize same-sex marriage if elected President of Liberia. The debate was held last Saturday in Tubmanburg, Bomi County.
The nine candidates each presented their plans for the economy, security and rule of law, peace and reconciliation, corruption, agriculture and youth empowerment. They also addressed how they would generate funding and implement their plans.
Those who honored to the debate invitation were Rev. William Kpadeh (Independent), Dr. Joseph Mills Jones (Movement for Economic Empowerment), Simeon Freeman (Movement for Progress Change), MacDella Cooper (Liberia Restoration Party), MacDonald Wento (United People's Party), Yardpajuwur N. Mator (Independent), Isa Gbombadee Wiles (Democratic Justice Party), Jeremiah Whapoe, (Vision for Liberia Transformation), and Sen. Oscar Cooper, (Independent).
Compared to the previous debate, the presidential candidates relied on statistics to buttress their points. One thing that took the center stage was on the issue of same-sex marriage.
All the candidates out rightly said NO to same sex marriage, homosexuality and gay rights and would not entertain Same Sex marriage under their administrations.
They indicated that same sex marriage is against the will of God and, if given state power, they would oppose it because God never instructed man to marry his fellow man or a woman to marry her sister woman.
Mr. Simeon Freeman spoke against dual currency and dual citizenship and vowed to create 55,000 jobs every year, cut down government spending by reducing the size of ministries, reduce the salary of senators, cut down the number of embassies to five, and privatize all government hospitals to ensure better healthcare services to Liberians.
MacDella Cooper said her first priority would be to revamp the educational sector by providing free education for all Liberian children.
She said currently the illiteracy rate is 63.5% for boys and 32.2% for girls and young women. The adult literacy rate is very low, namely 42.9%, while currently, only 41% of all children attend primary school.
No country can really survive with these education statistics, she said. Furthermore, MacDella said her next focus will be on health because health is an issue since Ebola caused at least 11,000 victims.
Dr. Jeremiah Whapoe said Liberians are not interested in listening to repeated promises in the midst of false concessions being signed by the government amid abject poverty. He said there is no nation that can boast of independence and cannot feed itself in the midst capital flight. He promised to prioritize agriculture in the country, which he said will provide job and also boost the economy.
"Today we have a capital flight in Liberia of US$480 million, just for the importation of rice and that alone is an issue that goes into the pocket of the Liberia people," he said. According to him, if such amount is circulated in Liberia, citizens will be able to make sound decisions that would better improve them.
He said Liberia borderlines are not properly secured due to food insecurity and that the only way to alleviate such problem is through agriculture productivity.
MacDonald Wento indicated that peace-building, national healing, and reconciliation will be UPP's number-one program; and that maintenance of existing, and construction of new roads will be its second priority. In foreign policy, UPP Wento said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be re-organized, strategically positioned, and staffed with experienced diplomatic agents who are knowledgeable about how to tap into external opportunities to achieve the UPP domestic agenda.
The UPP 2017 Platform includes a plan that calls for using technology as a means to discourage corruption, particularly in Government. UPP intends to make prosecution of corrupt public servants a predictable response in the country.
Rev. William Kpadeh said Liberians have moved away from God and therefore the country needs spiritual healing. He outlined reconciliation, security for all Liberians, where every citizen will have a social security number, and build up science and technology to give students access to the global world.
"Overall, this was significantly different in Liberian politics and a big day for Liberians to celebrate," said Morris Johnson, a resident.
"Everyone won and Liberia is the biggest winner. To see Liberian politicians on stage together talking respectfully about ideas and advancing solutions to addressing the country's problems and needs is a major milestone," he said. '
Dr. Jones promised to give Liberia back to Liberians through economic empowerment as well as provide jobs to be able to boost the economy.
He also said poverty is not Liberia's destiny, and as a grassroots political party, MOVEE's goal will focus on the economy and by doing that, "we will return the destiny of Liberia to the hands of Liberians and by doing that we will put Liberia back in the hands of Liberians."
"We talk about agriculture being a source of wealth and source of unemployment in the economy, we've agreed to go back to our policy papers, our report to the government; we have been saying that all along," he said.
The MOVEE standard also spoke on dual currency and noted that it is a political issue that cannot be done overnight.
Margibi Senator Oscar Cooper noted that the country is endowed with numerous resources that would help empower and improve the living condition of its citizens, but the selfishness of past and present leaders to have all to themselves has been the "real problem."
"The leadership of our country, especially the current administration, has been wicked to the citizenry. This administration's inability to fight graft is responsible for the woeful condition of the Liberian people," he said.
According to Sen. Cooper, the savings realized from these deductions will be appropriated in the national budget towards education, health, security, and affordable housing, among other social services. He wants salaries and benefits of high ranking executives not to exceed more than U$5,000 or its equivalent in Liberian dollars.
The 11 absent candidates were George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Vice President Joseph Boakai (Unity Party), Charles Brumskine (Liberty Party), Alexander Cummings (Alternative National Congress), Benoni Urey (All Liberian Party), Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, (Liberian People's Party), Kennedy Sandy, (Liberia Transformation Party), Prince Johnson, (Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction), Tuder Williams (New Liberia Party), Wendell McIntosh (Change Democratic Action) and George S. Dweh (Redemption Democracy Congress).