6 November 2017

Liberia: Don't Demonize Brumskine for Contesting Election Results

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(file photo)

RENOWNED LAWYER AND political leader of the opposition Liberty Party is at the middle of the country's politics and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's smooth transition's legacy.

BRUMSKINE REMAINS FIRM that the October 10 elections in which he came third as he did in 2011 and 2005 were marred by irregularities and fraud. Among his litany of complaints to the National Elections Commission, he says he performed better than was announced the electoral body therefore, there's the need for the complete rerun of the election.

REALIZING THE DELAY BY THE NEC to look into his complaint, Brumskine sought the intervention of the Supreme Court, requesting prohibition on the runoff election, which was scheduled for Tuesday, November 7, 2017.

BASED ON HIS REQUEST, the Supreme Court decided to place a temporary stay order on NEC activities relating to the November 7 runoff election. NEC was subsequently invited to show cause why Cllr. Brumskine's petition should not be granted.

WHILE MANY LIBERIANS CRITICIZE Brumskine's action, terming it as selfish and ego-driven, we at FrontPageAfrica would instead like to commend the opposition leader. Our commendation is not because we believe his claims against the NEC are genuine, but simply because we admire his decision to follow the rule of law.

WE MUST BE REMINDED that electoral dissatisfaction and violence have been key factors of conflict in some of our neighboring countries like The Ivory Coast.

THE 2010-11 IVORIAN CRISIS was a political crisis which began after Laurent Gbagbo, the President of Ivory Coast since 2000, was proclaimed the winner of the Ivorian election of 2010, the first election in the country in 10 years. The opposition candidate, Alassane Ouattara, and a number of countries, organizations and leaders worldwide claimed Ouattara had won the election. After months of attempted negotiation and sporadic violence, the crisis entered a decisive stage as Ouattara's forces began a military offensive in which they quickly gained control and besieged key targets in Abidjan. Clashes between the two groups took away the lives of hundreds of innocent citizens.

If both parties had agreed to seek redress through the legal system, the story wouldn't have been ugly as it is.

THIS HASN'T BEEN THE CASE with Cllr. Brumskine.

AFTER THE FIRST ROUND OF KENYA'S recent polls, unhappy supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga took to the streets in protest, leaving the police with no option but to disperse them with tear gas. There were reports of at least one death. But the people of Kenya were quick to remind themselves of the 2007 post-polls impasse that left over a thousand dead.

ODINGA'S USE OF THE LEGAL system in seeking redress to his claims of electoral fraud set the pace for a landmark ruling on the African continent.

WE BELIEVE LIBERIANS SHOULD give Cllr Brumskine the benefit of the doubt when he said his quest is not about winning or losing the election; rather it's an attempt to restore and protect the dignity of the country.

WE MUST REMEMBER that having peaceful election does not necessarily mean one should accept whatever result comes out of the election; rather we must be ready and willing to peacefully follow the rule of law where there is discontentment over the results.

FOR QUITE TOO LONG, we have treated serious matters in the country with apathy - 'leaving it to God'. This has done no good for our country in anyway and such attitude continues to create room for misdeeds that go with impunity.

BRUMSKINE, DESPITE HIS performance in October 10 elections, and whatever the Supreme Court's decision would be, must be applauded for standing up for our fellow citizens who he knows believe in his leadership and yearn for a better Liberia through his governance.

WE MUST APPLAUD HIM for proving to Liberians and the world that not only is the country's democratic process being strengthened, but it can also be challenged and tested. Posterity will follow this precedent.


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