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Monday, November 7, 2011

Liberia:Dark Cloud Hangs Over Liberia's November 8th Runoff Elections

As the clock ticks toward Liberia's scheduled November 8th presidential runoff elections,the cloud of doubt and uncertainty seem to be engulfing the process. Despite the fervent call by the Congress for Democratic Change for a boycott, other stake holders are determine to adequately prepare for E-Day/Elections Day: Tuesday, 8th November 2011.

Cllr.Winston Tubman‑CDC Standard Bearer. Picture courtesy of africatv1.com
Cllr.Winston Tubman‑CDC Standard Bearer. Picture courtesy of africatv1.com
Upon his return from Abuja,Nigeria last Friday where he attended an ECOWAS consultative briefing, the standard bearer of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) Cllr. Winston Tubman in an address delivered to his partisan categorically stressed that CDC won't part-take in the forthcoming next Tuesday runoff elections.
The CDC chief's proclaimation has stirred up far many views both at the home and abroad: Mardea Wiles had the below to say and concluded with a question.
Cllr. Winston Tubman has reiterated that CDC will not participate in the November 8th runoff for allegations of fraud and biases. If CDC is convinced beyond all reasonable doubts that the process was fraudulent, their Representatives just elected in the October 11th election should also boycott the process by not taking up their seats in the House of Legislature. With such action, the Liberians will know that they are determined to pursue this claim to a logical conclusion. Can you honor part of a process and disregard some under the same NEC Administration?
The New Dispensation an informative blog broke the CDC's runoff elections this way:
Liberia’s controversial next Tuesday run-off election is postponed and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf will address the nation at which time she will officially inform the Liberian people of the government’s decision.
The run-off election has come to be one of gridlock as the opposition party and presidential candidate Cllr. Winston Tubman withdrew in protest to boycott the run-off. Cllr. Winston Tubman who returned from Nigeria yesterday after having talks with Nigeria President Goodluck Johnathan and Chairman of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), reiterated his call for boycott of the Tuesday election, calling on his supporters and partisans to peacefully boycott the Tuesday polls by staying home.

The National Elections Commission under the leadership of its newest supremo acting chairperson Cllr.Elizabeth J.Nelson has reassured all stakeholders that NEC-Liberia is fully committed to safe guiding Liberia to a peaceful transition via a free, fair and peaceful elections. In her first official press conference held last week Tuesday, she specifically pinpointed her entity's readiness to conduct a credible runoff.

Cllr.Elizabeth J.Nelson-Acting Chairperson Liberia Elections Commission,courtesy of necliberia.org
Cllr.Elizabeth J.Nelson-Acting Chairperson Liberia Elections Commission,courtesy of necliberia.org
With respect to the status of the scheduled November 8, 2011 Presidential run-off, the National Elections Commission wishes to state that it is fully prepared to conduct the run-off as required by Article 83 (b) of the Constitution of Liberia. Therefore, I am pleased to announce that all necessary materials are in place, polling staff training has been conducted, the movement of sensitive and none sensitive materials to NEC warehouses in the South East Counties have been completed while the movement of other sensitive materials is currently underway. Meanwhile, civic and voter education activities are being conducted throughout the country, and new observers groups are being accredited.
Therefore, I wish to encourage the - Unity Party (UP) and the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) to fully participate in the contest. The Commission also wishes to urge all supporters of these parties and the Liberian people to maintain the same level of discipline as demonstrated during the October 11 elections to ensure a peaceful Election Day on November 8.
In an effort to motivate his countrymen to exercise their constitutional voting right against a boycott, Mr. Samuel Tolehyon Gbatu,Sr. a Liberia in the Diaspora chose these words for Liberians.
Wake Up Call: It is time for us (Liberians) to exhibit our patriotism,it is time for us to learn that violence is not the answer to our quest if we did not learn that in the past.This is not even based on party levels, be a patriot,support your and its people,refrain from violence and be a good citizen. Support the electoral process and accept the result for a way forward. Politicians will come and go,but the future of Liberia still remains in our hands......Their aims are unknown don't fall for them.Don't be a fool to be used to destroy your own country,remember their lives are better than the average Liberians.
Unlike Mr.Gbatu who's calling for a peaceful continuation of the runoff electoral process, Cllr.Jerome J.Verdier, Sr. the erstwhile chairman of the defunct Liberian Truth of Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has called for a complete halt to the process and give it a critical overhauling. He termed the runoff as 'Kangaroo' and urges the Liberian Senate to cease the process:

Cllr. Jerome J. Verdier-former chairman of the defunct Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission.Picture,courtesy of mshale.com
Cllr. Jerome J. Verdier-former chairman of the defunct Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission.Picture,courtesy of mshale.com
We have on hand a constitutional/political crisis which should spare no effort in ensuring its peaceful resolution founded in dialogue pursuant to a political resolution. The only other option is the legal option which is no longer viable as no one who is a major stakeholder has any inkling of confidence in the Supreme Court to dispose of contentious matters independently, judiciously and legally where the interest of President Sirleaf is concerned.
A political resolution entails that the senate which has oversight of presidential appointments must engage both parties, along with the international community, halt any kangaroo November 8 runoff and advert further deterioration of an already worsening situation.
While the above mentioned two notable Liberians chose advocacy for a peaceful continuation and a complete halt to the runoff process respectively; Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei a Liberian Youth Ambassador For Peace commissioned by the Universal Peace Federation and an advocate thought it befitting to dived into what he termed 'products of post-conflict governance leakages':
  At this point it is important to mention that the prevailing developments in Liberia are not spontaneous, but are products of pos-conflict governance leakages which the administration overlooked. There are governance leakages which have all built up to numerous political crises out of which the current situation is just one product. Two key issues can be considered here as part of the leakages. The first was the failure of the administration to lead the country into a broader national process of Constitutional reform. Constitutional reform is a key and fundamental element of postwar reform, and had this government embarked on such an initiative key issues of national controversy would have been sorted out and addressed. Rather, the administration chose to support and conduct a referendum month to the election. It was from this controversial referendum the current tension around the elections began.

Second is the lukewarm approach of the government to transitional justice issues, mainly national reconciliation. Transitional justice goes in tandem with constitutional reform in postwar governance reform processes, and it is the basis upon which people deal with past grievances and accept each other for the future. Eight years after the war, Liberians are yet to have collective and clear understanding of the causes of the conflict and the role of various actors, and the way forward to a peaceful future. This is largely due to the controversy that resulted from the TRC process. Today, people feel free to issue threats of violence and even disrupt national processes without fearing consequences. At the same time, the people still seem to be deeply divided on ethnic issues, and the growing patterns of reemerging wartime alliances during these elections speak volumes of deep-seated grievances and conflict mentalities.

The United Nations (UN) in the midst of all the claims and counter claims has reaffirmed its commitment to the process. The world governing body through its chief Mr. Ban Ki-noon said the UN supports the joint efforts by the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS and his Special Representative for Liberia, Ellen Margrethe Lj, to promote dialogue and build confidence in the electoral process and stressed the need for all parties to foster a peaceful transition.

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki- Moon. Pix courtesy of www.chinlandtoday.info
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki- Moon. Pix courtesy of www.chinlandtoday.info
The UN's commitment towards Liberia hasn't gone unnoticed as these words of Linda Koffa depicts:
UN has always committed herself to our ceaseless national crisis;I do hope we as a nation will see the ardent and rational need to go thru a peaceful transition against strives and plunging ourselves into another national madness of a crisis!Liberians should be mindful of the hrudles involved in ending crises:easy to start yet very difficult to end!
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the regional body of which Liberia is a founding member continues to urge the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) to CDC's fullest participation in the runoff elections.
In the wake of all of the fervent efforts being exerted by ECOWAS, the stigmas of ECOWAS' role in the Liberian civil crisis are still fresh on the minds of many Liberians. Joe 'Saye-Tomah' Gbaba, Sr. a Liberian has strong reservations about the regional body's sincerity and neutrality.
Given the trend of politics in Liberia the comments recently made by the ECOWAS Commission is very troubling in that the ECOWAS Commission suggested that it will “recognize” Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, even if the people of Liberia boycott the elections and reject her as their leader. Such a statement reflects the biased and prejudiced stance the ECOWAS Commission took from day one when ECOMOG’s Ghanaian Field Commander Arnorld Quinoo master-minded the brutal murder of Liberia’s sitting President Samuel Kanyon Doe at the hands of rebels of Prince Johnson’s Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL).
From that time moving forward, it became crystal-clear that ECOWAS Commission had a hidden agenda and that they would be in Liberia for keeps. For, the ECOWAS Commission would pretend they were in Liberia to secure the peace and bring the Liberian human carnage and mayhem to a close. Whereas, in reality, they would enhance and perpetuate mayhem and lawlessness in its various forms in cohort with Liberian rebel warlords and their supporters.
In view of the above mentioned, Liberians from all walks of life can now put one and one together to figure out why ECOWAS has been in Liberia for over twenty-two years as the regional peace brokers but yet Liberia is far from achieving sustainable peace. This is mainly because there are double dealers and wheelers on the ECOWAS Commission who do not sincerely support the true cause of African liberation. Instead, they are more interested in getting their ‘cuts’ from the spoils of the Liberian Civil War and to prolong the suffering of the Liberian people in cohort with Mrs. Sirleaf and Liberian Government officials.

Pres.Sirleaf speaking in Margibi,Liberia.Photo courtesy Cyrus Wleh Badio the Press Secretary to Pres.Sirleaf.
Pres.Sirleaf speaking in Margibi,Liberia.Photo courtesy Cyrus Wleh Badio the Press Secretary to Pres.Sirleaf.
While the opposition CDC is actively fighting its cause regarding the 'credibility' of the Liberian National Elections Commission,the incumbent Unity Party (UP) led by standard bearer Mrs.Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is assiduously campaigning cross country.
Venessa Benson, a Liberian living abroad summed up the CDC's actions in her own words:

Allow me too spin this! Is it possible that CDC Boycott charade could be a planned device, for UP partisans to become complacent, feel that President Ellen has already won the 2011 elections due to CDC boycott Shenanigan?
BEWARE of the in......consistencies! Keep your eyes opened and allow your ears to hear. Do not allow anyone to take or prevent you from executing your rights to vote. People sacrificed their lives allowing us this priceless right to vote.
YOU MUST VOTE ON 8 NOVEMBER 2011! This is your future, your children's future, as well as the next generation's future. 8 Nov. 2011, Vote! Vote! Vote! No matter what, Vote! We must all participate in the second round, our future is a stake!
Do Not Be Deceived! Do Not Be Deceived! By all Means, Do Not Be Deceived! 8 Nov. 2011, Vote!

The ruling party standard bearer, sitting president, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in a reply to CDC's Cllr.Winston Tubman boycott declaration held a press conference to address the nation and her partisans. Equally like her opponent's press briefing, Pres.Sirleaf's briefing drawn many reactions. J.Robertson put his view this way:
Unity Party Goes Into RunoffElections Alone As CDC Withdraws:
Edwina a Liberian lady summarized CDC's boycott threat in a very unfamiliar tone mixing standard English with Liberian colloquial:
On October 11, 394,370 persons voted for CDC oh. So if they decide to boycott, they better tell all 394,370 of them to stay home, bcus if 13 persons sef vote, we will count d votes, thn da na boycott again oh. So I hope yor campaigning for d boycott too. Infact sef, just in case yor fini tellin ollor dem to vote boycott, I wey beg one pekin to give yor one vote ya. Hahaha, Ma Ellen n boy Joe make d baboon dem scared!
The official elections day (October 11th 2011) that gave birth to the scheduled runoff is now history; what Liberia as a nation and people do come November 8th 2011 will determine their fate.

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