29 September 2017

Liberia's Elections - a Process

Photo: FrontPage Africa
U.S. Ambassador Christine Elder.

The West African state of Liberia will on October 10, 2017 hold its third post-war Presidential and Legislative elections. This year's elections, just as any other elections, is marred by accusations and counteraccusations, claims and counterclaims, with most of the accusing fingers pointed at the incumbent vice president, who is also vying for the presidency. According to most of the presidential candidates, the vice president has worked for the Government of Liberia for over forty years without any visible development project initiated by him. Whether true or false, the vice president is likewise saying that the standard bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) is only a soccer star and not a presidential material.

This criticism also comes from many quarters of the Liberian society. But according to political analysts, presently, this so-called 'soccer star' and 'presidential material' scenario should no longer be the paramount concern of critics of the CDC political leader. According to observers, George Manneh Weah, who is so loved and preferred for the presidency by over half of the voting populace, holds two degrees - a bachelor and master degrees; and, is a member of the Liberian Legislature - a senator for the most popular county in the country. Therefore, according to supporters, he is qualified for the presidency.

This year's elections, compared to previous elections, have about twenty (20) presidential candidates and almost eight hundred representative candidates. Truthfully, of the twenty presidential aspirants, ninety-eight percent is singing 'din din don'. That is, there is no inspiring message in their respective platforms. For over one month since the commencement of political activities, no presidential candidate has come up with the true interpretation of democracy - promising that democracy will be restored in its entirety. Almost all the presidential aspirants have bought or borrowed vehicles and other fabulous equipment to entice voters. Some aspirants have promised to reduce salaries of some government officials and to incorporate 'outcasts' or 'zogoes' in the Liberian army. What a gloomy politics!

Notwithstanding, Liberian politicians are also noted for forsaking their supporters immediately after the announcement of the elections result. Immediately in the aftermath of the 2005 and 2011 elections, most of the defeated candidates left the country without any words of thanks and appreciation to their respective supporters. As a result, this year's election activities do not seem to show the necessary enthusiasm and glamor of a very crowded political theater of twenty presidential candidates and almost eight hundred representative candidates. In like manner, it seems that the voters themselves have decided to show some insincerity to the candidates. The same group of people who showed up during the launch of the presidential campaign of a candidate also shows up during the launch of another candidate. A personal friend told me that she has almost all the t-shirts of the leading presidential candidates.

According to one senior government official, "there is no substance in the Liberian presidential debate. At the debate, all the candidates talk 'tabata'". In the Kwa language, tabata means monotonous, absolute foolishness. You cannot imagine there was a massive concurrence with the minister on the social media. The minister was highly applauded by a cross-section of Liberians who, this time around, have decided to be frank with the candidates. For too long, there have been promises that are yet to be fulfilled. Instead of telling the Liberian people the ills in society and the way forward, the candidates are acting like belligerents, inciting supporters against one another. Their various campaign messages are causing their respective supporters to engage in bloody clashes.

According to a survey conducted, most Liberians say they are tired with false promises. All those interviewed said all Liberian politicians are deceitful people and don't have the country at heart. To prove the insincerity of Liberian politicians, they continue to cross carpet. If they are denied positions in their respective parties, they will immediately go to another political party. Some have joined their fourth party. A political party is a political organization of a potential group of people in a country who share the same vision. According to one political activist, stakeholders who change political parties randomly are 'political prostitutes'; they don't have the country at heart and are 'gravy seekers.' Election politics in Liberia is sickening. Throughout the year or so, you will see luxurious vehicles passing by you at high speed without any inclination of pedestrians in the traffic. Some will intentionally splash water on you to show their supremacy. At elections time, they will bring the same lu

xurious vehicles and allow voters to sit over them and parade the streets with trumpets calling for democratic change.

Democracy is the fair distribution of state goods and services. Democracy in Liberia is a mockery. There is no equal opportunity in the country; the ruling class takes pleasure in the suffering of the masses because when the people complain, they call them noisy minority. The more disheartening thing in this year's elections is no candidate has commented on the jobs and contracts that are being awarded to foreigners. At major government ministries and agencies, foreigners are holding top positions while qualified Liberians continue to roam the streets kicking dust in search of jobs. No candidate has promised to give Liberia back to the Liberians; they are yet to assure Liberians that they will be proud of their country once again. No candidate has commented on the deaths of detainees in police custody; or the wanton killings on beaches around Monrovia.

Noticeably, since the end of the civil crisis in Liberia, there has not been any tangible improvement in the livelihood of Liberians. The only people that have improved their lives are those who fought the senseless war and looted the properties of the helpless people. Warlords used the 'blood money' to run for public offices and increased their wealth and are shamelessly calling themselves rich people. No presidential candidate has come to the defense of the masses saying that all Liberians are equal before the law and are entitled to equal distribution of basic social services. No candidate has the courage to comment on the implementation of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). All the candidates have forgotten or lack the knowledge that the implementation of the recommendations of the TRC is the answer to Liberia's problem.

When the civil war ended in America in 1865, there was a Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up. Its recommendations were properly implemented that led to the imprisonment of Mr. Jefferson A. Davis, president of the former Confederate States of the United States. America is the most decorative democratic nation on the globe. From all indications, no presidential candidate has the audacity to promise the Liberian people that when elected, the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) will be implemented. The international community has spent over US$17 million to set up the TRC and its process. But since the completion of the process, its findings are buried under the carpet. We need a candidate, who will restore Liberia's dignity by promising that the first thing he or she will do when inaugurated is the implementation of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). This would help to heal the wounds of Liberians.

As we continue to say, there has never been a true son of the soil in Liberia when it comes to leadership - when it comes to the presidency, to be precise. Most of these aspirants are enjoying money stolen from the Liberian government; in their respective platforms, they are saying the same things past presidents have said and failed to implement.

During public debates, there is nothing that the candidates say that will effect change.

Reports coming from Nimba County say there were violent clashes between supporters of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Liberty Party. From time to time, there are clashes of opponents of political parties during election time. In Liberia, elections brutality is absolutely unnecessary because our country is less populated - we are one people. But mostly, believe me, these violent clashes erupt when two or three political parties meet. The hate messages preached by the political leaders of the various parties stir up violence. Instead of the candidates explaining to voters what they intend to do for the betterment of the country when elected; they castigate one another viciously thereby causing supporters to become furious and disenchanted.

Also in Monrovia, there are violent clashes between supporters of various political parties as well as supporters of representative candidates. These clashes result from the ignorance of the supporters and the arrogant, deceitful and doomy messages they send out. Instead of telling supporters that Liberia is indivisible with liberty and justice for all, they tell voters that some of their opponents are idiots; some are sycophants; others are criminals and so forth. These are hate messages and cause trouble even after elections are held. Liberian politicians have never been mindful of the conduct of political activities. These are the same so-called freedom fighters that have put our country into darkness instead of light.

We pledge our solidarity to the Liberian people for their continuous struggle for a just society and we console them for the wasted years.

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