Why criticize America?

There have been barrage of criticisms unleashed by some Liberians against the United States of America after the U.S. Embassy near Monrovia issued a statement here last week on the political stalemate in the country, urging the expeditious conduct of disputes and litigation in an expeditious manner to permit the timely conclusion of Liberia’s electoral process and a peaceful transition.

Immediately following the statement, some segments of the Liberian public call on the United States to stay clear out of Liberian politics, stressing that the current challenges and legal battle against the October 10, 2017 President and Representative Elections are purely Liberian affairs.
Some even undiplomatically question the authority of the U.S. Embassy here to meddle in the internal politics of Liberia with uncouth words. The condemnations came from people in our society who ought to have known better the historic bond that exists between Liberia and the United States of America which dates far back to the 18th century beyond mere diplomatic ties.
We are taken aback by the expressions and the emotional atmosphere under which they were delivered without any remorse whatsoever for the enormous sacrifices in human, financial and material kinds that the Government and people of America have made and continue to make even up to this minute, not only for the peaceful existence of Liberia, but the growth and development of the country and its citizens.
Fundamentally, we believe there is nothing wrong with the statement from the U.S. Embassy as some of our fellow compatriots would think and are reacting in such cruel dictions with emotional venoms without any second thought.
Here are the facts: The U.S. Embassy in Monrovia says it was inspired by 1.5 million Liberians who expressed their commitment to and faith in democracy by voting in the October 10 elections, and underscores the importance of peaceful transfer of power to a new democratically-elected president in January, as reflected in the Constitution of Liberia.
The statement expresses confidence in the integrity of the October elections and notes that no accredited Liberian, regional, or international observation group suggested that the cumulative anomalies observed reflect systemic issues sufficient to undermine the fundamental integrity of the electoral process, while urging the National Elections Commission (NEC) to undertake corrective actions before, during, and after the runoff election.
“We appreciate that parties are availing themselves of the legal right to dispute resolution. We note, however, that with rights come responsibilities. Disputes and litigation should be initiated and conducted in good faith by the claimants, the NEC, and if needed, the Supreme Court, in an expeditious manner to permit the timely conclusion of Liberia’s electoral process and a peaceful transition”, the U.S. Embassy says and cautions that efforts by any actors to impede the expressed will of the Liberian people for personal ambition could risk goodwill and future investments in Liberia by international partners.
We read the entire press statement upside down and find nowhere in this document where the U.S. is dictating to Liberians to elect a particularly candidate or vote a specific political party against their will, as some citizens seem to insinuate.
While we totally respect the right of every Liberian to express his or view on matters of state, mainly on comments coming from outside, particularly from our traditional friends and international partners, such reactions should be based on sober thought and deep reflection of the facts rather than emotionally charged sentiments that one could regret later.

Acting in good faith for the common good

Amid delay here for the runoff presidential election as a result of legal battle between four political parties, including the governing Unity Party and the National Elections Commission, the United States Embassy near Monrovia stresses that disputes and litigation should be initiated and conducted in good faith by the claimants, the NEC, and if needed, the Supreme Court, in an expeditious manner to permit the timely conclusion of Liberia’s electoral process and a peaceful transition.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, 15 November the U.S. Embassy warns that efforts by any actors to impede the expressed will of Liberia’s people for personal ambition could risk goodwill and future investments in Liberia by international partners, noting that the Liberian people and the international community have worked too hard and invested too much to watch Liberia’s progress stall.

And this has been the apprehension of ordinary Liberians whose primary interest is to democratically elect a President that would govern the state peacefully to enable them go about their daily activities.

In the eyes of the party litigants, they are pursuing legal procedures to attain redress from the results of the October 10, 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections. They seem not to care how long it takes despite an impending transitional crisis if a new government is not elected before January 2018.

As a result of a prohibition sought by lead complainant, Liberty Party, the Supreme Court placed an indefinite suspension on the November 7th runoff presidential poll and all other political activities in the country, pending outcome of the ongoing investigation into complaints filed to the NEC, a situation that has created serious uncertainty and shocks in the economy characterized by fears and rumors.

Therefore, it is in this light that the U.S. Embassy urges Liberian political leaders to take their cue from the citizens who waited patiently to vote and did so with respect for their fellow citizens, regardless of political views, and act in good faith to expeditiously bring the court process to an end in order to proceed with the runoff election.

Acting in good faith means going straight to the issues at bar and avoiding unnecessary technicalities that could lead to elapse of the legal timeframe for such matter and delay the democratic and transitional processes with unanticipated consequences for the nation and its people.

In other words, some of the parties might not have any substantive claims to adduce at the hearing, but they would pretend to be moving in line with the law, buying time for other selfish interest at the detriment of the peace and stability of the state. Such politicking is not only deceiving, but destructive.

The U.S. Embassy’s statement expresses confidence in the integrity of the October elections, noting that no accredited Liberian, regional, or international observation group suggested that the cumulative anomalies observed reflect systemic issues sufficient to undermine the fundamental integrity of the electoral process, meaning claims of fraud and irregularities before the NEC are not sufficient to overturn the entire results of the first round of elections, though the agreed parties have rights under the law to seek redress but in a manner and faction that could eventually jeopardize the whole process and efforts made to get us to this stage.

We join the U.S. Embassy in calling on actors, including the claimants, NEC and the High Court to legally fast track the ongoing hearing in order to return us to the runoff election.

Justice Vs. Mercy

Legal luminaries would say that in strict adherence to the rule of law mercy should never temper with justice. They would insist that the rule of law takes its course no matter where the chip falls, meaning regardless who is hurt or what is affected, the rule of law must be applied. And so they ignore every and all pleads for restraint, second thought or mercy.

This is exactly what seems to be unfolding in the Liberty Party in its case against the National Elections Commission. The party national campaign manager, Musa Hassan Bility told his privately-owned Truth FM 96.1 radio in the Monrovia suburb of Du-port Road, Paynesville that the LP would not listen to any regional or national invention in its complaints before the NEC. The LP is challenging the results of the October 10, 20217 Presidential and Representatives Elections, citing fraud and irregularities.

Bility insists that the LP is an ardent respecter of the rule of law, so the law must take its course, regardless of unintended consequences that the Nation, Liberia stands to suffer, including political and economic instability brought about by security vulnerability.The party is vehemently opposed to offer by both the Liberia Council of Churches and the National Traditional Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia to intervene to have the matter resolved sooner than later.

Least we be misconstrued here, we as a media institution faithfully subscribe to the rule of law. We believe it is the most effective instrument that keeps society in check and tries to keep societal members equal under its application.But fundamentally, what is law in the first place? It is nothing but reasoning, human reasoning in line with what is on the book. So whenever an individual or an institution feels deprived or transgressed under the law, it seeks remedy or justice before the jurisprudence of the state, county or district in which the alleged transgression was committed, in this case Liberia where the LP and the NEC exist.

The party argues that the alleged fraud and irregularities from the polls affected its performance negatively at the ballot box and therefore, seeks a re-run of the elections. The party had earlier sought and obtained a preemptory prohibition from the Supreme Court of Liberia, halting all electoral activities, including the runoff presidential poll, pending full investigation. It is being joined by scores of political parties, including the governing Unity Party as co-complainants thus, widening the current legal battle against the NEC.

Meanwhile, as the law takes its course, serious unintended consequences are creeping in that threaten the daily survivor of the people. Amid growing uncertainty about the country’s political future, the business community here is proceeding with cautious, faced with three digit exchange rate greeted by skyrocketing food and basic commodity prices.

In a country with high unemployment and grinding poverty the people are yearning for relief or a way out in order to continue with daily life. That way could be either thru the law as the LP subscribes or intervention outside the law that would bring all parties together to see the need to put Liberia first. They careless about who wins the legal battle. All they want is a less stressful environment to face the daily challenges of survival.

But the LP and its co-complainants are not listening. Rather, they want the law to take its course and deliver justice, leaving no room for mercy though the country is being seriously affected by unexpected consequences.

We’re on the side of good

Liberty Party Standard Bearer Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, currently fighting a legal battle against the National Elections Commission had asked all Liberians to pray so that “good will prevail over evil.”

In our mind, good means an expeditious conclusion of the legal procedure to allow us go ahead with the runoff presidential election to democratically choose a president that would sail our beloved country thru stable waters. This is what majority of Liberians are yearning for.

Hence, we pray that Cllr. Brumskine will put Liberia first in his quest for justice, and not pursue selfish political interest as the writing on the wall seems to indicate.

Sincerely, we are taken aback by the sudden bond that has led the governing Unity Party of Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai going over to three opposition parties -the Liberty Party, the All Liberian Party of businessman Benoni Urey, and the Alternative National Congress of former Coca Cola Executive Alexander B. Cummings to challenge results of the October 10, 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections.

That the Liberty Party and Cllr. Brumskine, who had just few months ago, bitterly campaigned against the ruling UP getting a third term in office, can today host the ruling party and its standard bearer at their (LP’s) headquarters in Monrovia, dancing to the same tune is the highest betrayal to Liberian electorates, to say the least.

Now we understand that all these three opposition political parties told the Liberian people during the campaign period were nothing but rhetoric. They never meant anything they told the electorates. Today, they have become extremely inseparable from the ruling establishment.

Democratically, it is their right to determine which side they want to go in securing their political interest, but doing so at the detriment of the majority desire is highly disappointing. Majority of the Liberian people want the runoff poll conducted sooner than later.

In her address to the nation on Tuesday, 8 November President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf reminded all citizens that Liberia’s democracy and reputation is under assault by the current legal wrangling, while the economy is under stress.

Therefore, she urged politicians, herself inclusive, to do better, emphasizing that historians or posterity will look back at this time and judge us by how we conduct ourselves at this critical moment in time.

And this is where we come from. Our country is being hurt by the hurdles that have beclouded the democratic process to the extent that the Supreme Court has slammed a prohibition against the National Elections Commission, halting all electoral activities, much to the delight of the strange bedfellows that are now parading themselves as victims of the entire process while time elapses and uncertainty awaits our destiny as a nation.

Uncertainty looms

The current Supreme Court prohibition halting all electoral activities, pending outcome of the legal battle between the National Elections Commission and the Liberty Party headed by Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine has left many ordinary Liberians wondering whether the runoff presidential poll will be conducted as announced or this country is heading for fresh elections as being requested by the LP.

The high court mandates the NEC to thoroughly probe complaint of fraud and irregularities against results of the 10 October Presidential and Presidential Elections filed by the party through its Standard Bearer Cllr. Brumskine within the 30 days period prescribed by the Constitution of Liberia and come out with findings before a determination is made whether to go for runoff or fresh elections.

What this means in effect is that the democratic process is on hold, for how long only the law will say. Notwithstanding, the tenure of the Sirleaf Administration is virtually at a close. If care is not taken, this country could probably hold new elections or have in place an interim administration to spearhead the democratic process.

A country with a leadership crisis does not promote an investment environment. Therefore, it is no place for any genuine investment and economic development due to the uncertainties that becloud such atmosphere.

Liberians should do everything humanly possible to avoid going this route because it retards national progress and political stability. We’ve been there before and can’t afford to revert there.

But how can a nation with a brutal civil war history, serious illiteracy, huge unemployment and grinding poverty get itself out of this quagmire? It would require deep soul searching and conscious minds of its elders to remind us all where we have sailed from in the past nearly 25 years – 14 years of bloody civil war and 10 years of relative peace backed by democratic governance.

We need to consolidate the gains achieved rather than engaging in anything funny that could slip us back to violence, death and misery. Lest we forget, an entire generation had been denied the opportunity to go to school and acquire an education as a result of senseless violence. Today, this vulnerable generation perambulates our society ready to be used at the whims and caprices of power-greed politicians.

Consolidating the gains made would require upholding the rule of law and tolerating one another irrespective of our tribal, religious and political diversities. In short, amid the political uncertainty and anxiety, leadership is required at all levels.

Strong and sober leadership would keep all Liberians focus on the crucial journey to conducting truly democratic elections and arriving at peaceful political transition to forge ahead.

Finally, we urge all political leaders, including the Standard Bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change Senator George Weah and Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai of the governing Unity Party, who both have been named by the National Elections Commission to go for the runoff, to exercise restraint and highest degree of leadership, while the law takes its course in these exercises.

The cart is before the horse

Although this paper wholeheartedly applauds the Liberty Party Standard Bearer Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine for choosing the legal path in seeking redress from the National Elections Commission to his claim of alleged fraud from the October 10, 2017 Presidential and Representatives Elections, but we think the learnt counselor placed the cart before the horse, rather than the other way around, which has affected the entire runoff poll, including the period for campaign leading to voting day.

By not firstly exhausting the 30 days period as stipulated in Article 83(c) of the Constitution of Liberia to prove its claims of fraud and irregularities from the first round of elections, obtain findings, and if not satisfied, then appeal to the Supreme Court, the LP Standard Bearer rather sought an appeal at the highest court of the land before coming down to defend its case at the Commission, which led to an immediate halt of the entire process.

The truth of the matter is whenever the cart is positioned before the horse, as in this current case, movement and progress is impeded, creating rooms for lot of apprehensions and speculations unintended.

Certainly, we believe Cllr. Brumskine himself had never intended the situation to have gone this way, drawing prompt interventions from the African Union and the ECOWAS. But this is what we have resulted to, putting the democratic process to a complete pulse. It is not because of a premeditated mind against a particular candidate, but the LP leader did not do the first thing first.

The question many Liberians are now asking is Brumskine and the LP now prepared to allow the NEC to conduct hearing in the case within the 30-day period as constitutionally required and at the same time gives the electoral house the opportunity to conduct the runoff election between the Coalition for Democratic Change and the governing Unity Party or do they want the prohibition to remain in place, pending outcome of the investigation?

We leave that argument with the lawyers, but the lesson being learnt from this exercise is whenever the right paths are not taken in deriving a logical conclusion, it sends many mixed signals and eventually leads to confusion. Many ordinary citizens are perplexed and worried about the next direction to the much craved for peaceful political transition.

Liberians want to be left along to freely elect a president at the ballot box that would lead this country for the next six years or more. They want to move on with their daily lives with full assurance that there is a government in charge to provide security, peace and ensure their happiness.

The current wrangling is not creating any confidence that this can be achieved in time because the horse is not placed before the cart. Meanwhile, time keeps marching on with uncertainty and anxiety.

We can but only hope that in coming days, all sides would see reason to come up with a timetable that will take us to the runoff election to elect a President that will be inaugurated in January 2018 to achieve a peaceful political transition as every Liberian have envisaged.

“Hate speech” undermines Liberia’s peace

As Liberians await the November 7th runoff presidential election, politicians here have dangerously embarked on making wide allegations and spewing hate messages, particularly at outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, among other things, accusing her of manipulation and favoring a particular candidate.

The ruling Unity Party, and the opposition Liberty Party and the All Liberian Party jointly claim the President interfered and influenced outcome of the October 10th Presidential and Representatives Elections, but the Office of the President denies.

A statement read by Presidential Press Secretary Matthew J. Piah, states unequivocally that these allegations are completely baseless, and are an unfortunate attempt by agent provocateurs to undermine Liberia’s democratic process.

The name-calling and direct attacks would have been treated as normal and expected in an emotionally charged political contest like ours, had it not been led by the President’s own governing Unity Party. The UP, which is going for the runoff against the Coalition for Democratic Change, joins the two opposition parties in claiming they have been cheated. They blame Madam Sirleaf for the alleged act.

As if this were not enough, the airwaves and social media are being saturated with barrage of claims and mudslinging against the President with her Vice President, Joseph Nyumah Boakai, now Standard Bearer of the UP, sitting at the top of these inflammatory campaigns.

The situation led the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia, an inter-faith group to issue a statement here on Monday, 30 October calling on the aggrieved parties to adhere to the Farmington Declaration they signed up to, and go to the runoff poll next week, shucking violence.

We join President Sirleaf in calling on all parties in the ongoing political process to refrain from utterances and actions that have the propensity to incite Liberians and undermine the peace and stability of the country as we all go to the ballot box next week and even thereafter.

Specifically, we challenge VP Boakai and the UP that he leads to demonstrate the “Think Liberia, Love Liberia and Build Liberia” slogan they preach by condemning all hate speeches and inciting languages that do not only have the propensity to undermine their political dreams and aspirations, but revert this country to its ugly past.

The democratic process should remain on course to ensure a peaceful political transition that all Liberians would be proud of, including winners and losers. In other words, the real winner at the end of the day will be Liberia, our common patrimony.

Whoever wins the runoff on November 7th needs the peace that we currently enjoy, not only to exercise political leadership, but to move on with economic development and prosperity, the dream of every citizen.

UP scare of runoff

The governing Unity Party headed by Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai is increasingly shying away from the November 7 runoff poll with the Coalition for Democratic Change of Senator George Manneh Weah. The UP has struck a new chord here, joining the opposition Liberty Party and the All Liberian Party in calling for a re-run of the October 10th Presidential and Representatives Elections.

This has become more glaring after the leader of the Movement for democracy and Reconstruction Senator Prince Yormie Johnson of Nimba County last week declared his support for Senator Weah in the runoff, a pronouncement that seems to have taken the ruling party off balance. Apparently afraid of a disgraceful defeat at the poll come November 7, the UP is now opting for fresh elections without counting the cost for such process, which could drain this country of every cent and delay its forward march to peace, stability and economic development.

What has even drawn our attention more is that the ruling party had whole heartedly accepted final results of the first round of polls, which placed it in the runoff against the CDC, and its Standard Bearer Vice President Boakai issued a statement recently, promising to form a government of inclusion if elected.

The UP would have to explain to the Liberian electorate what’s led to the abrupt turnaround. Why is it no longer interested in the runoff? Has Joe Boakai seen his own shadow in the dark?

Both the Liberty Party and the All Liberian Party claim there were massive fraud in the first round of polls and are challenging the results thru the law, which is their right. But we’re yet to understand what fish exactly does the ruling party has to fry in this.

It is sending to much mixed signals to the Liberian people amid dwindling public rating that could eventually lead to it capitulation even ahead of the runoff. This is so sad and frustrating. Truly, the UP had shot itself in the leg long since when it embarked on a path of bitter internal fight that has left a self-inflicted split right in the middle with two factions. No political force can go in any serious battle bitterly divided as it were and obtain victory.

We feel for poor Joe Boakai, who is surrounded by poorly prepared and illed-experience politicians with nothing to offer other than blind hatred impregnated with alligator gall, ready to spew at anyone in its way.

What has happened to UP?

The ruling Unity Party and its officials seem paranoid, confused, and blinded by unfolding political realities that they see no clear dichotomy between the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the governing party. In fact, after presiding over the political and economic leadership of this country for nearly 12 years, the governing party is publicly and cleverly disowning itself or ignoring its footprints on the political landscape.

UP campaign focal person, Representative Edwin Melvin Snowe, claims “the CDC is like the ruling party”. “I really feel for Joseph Boakai. He is like Jesus Christ who is being put on firing squad for sins he did not commit. Those very people who were involved in the passage of the National Budget for the past 10 years or more without any tangibles are those who are pushing for change”, he argues further.

The UP does not want to go down in the mud alone and is indirectly admitting that although there are blemishes on its 12-year rule, but members of the opposition share in the poor management of the national resources. How could the ruling party refuse to accept responsibility for its stewardship when it has controlled everything over the years, but is now pointing finger elsewhere and wants citizens to believe such garbage.

We challenge Snowe and his likes to come out with sharp, convincing strategies for the electorate before the November 7 runoff presidential poll rather than suddenly turning prophets of doom who see no future for Liberia under an opposition leadership. This is hilariously preposterous!

What could have been a contrary argument, if those in the opposition, particularly from the Coalition had no experience in government? Lack of experience, capacity and international contacts - the list would have been endless. But thank God the UP admits that they have some level of experience.

The truth of the matter is the writing is already on the wall that the ruling party’s time is out following two terms in office. But Upists, particularly Joe Boakai and his followers, who believe they have monopoly over knowledge, seem not to recognize this or they are taking the electorate for granted.

Brumskine’s courage is commendable

Liberty Party Standard Bearer Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine has introduced a process in politics in Liberia that is very unprecedented, for which he should be commended by all law-abiding citizens.He claims there were widespread irregularities and fraud in the just-ended Presidential and Representatives Elections conducted in the country, and is therefore, challenging the results. Specifically, he questions poll results ascribe to his party by the National Elections Commission. He thinks he was cheated.

Cllr. Brumskine believes pieces of evidence in his possession are overwhelming and has presented a formal complaint to the NEC. Additionally, he calls on the Commission to halt the 7 November runoff between the governing Unity Party and the Coalition for Democratic Change, pending investigation into his complaint.

But what is worth noting is the leadership and control he has provided for partisans of the LP in the midst of the circumstances. He has a strong conviction that the best approach in seeking redress thru the justice system of Liberia other than mobilizing partisans and thugs into the streets, which could instigate electoral violence with unimaginable consequences.

We challenge all Liberian politicians and political leaders to emulate the path chosen by the LP Standard Bearer in handling disagreements from the ballot box. It demonstrates in no immeasurable terms the leadership capacity of the politician who wants to become the country’s next President.
When a leader can exercise calm and is collectively sober in the midst of distress and provocation, he clearly demonstrates maturity and level-headedness, which indicates that if given the opportunity, he is capable of presiding over a nation with multiple complications and diverse political, cultural and religious society.

History from our recent past elections, especially the 2005 and 2011 polls, presents the contrary. Political leaders led followers into street battle with State security forces, leading to property damage and loss of lives.
We should not have a repeat of such bloody scenario that took our dear country to drain. In short, we stress responsible politicking that would not only ensure peace, but uphold the body politics.

As Liberians go to the runoff on November 7, we call on the leaderships of both CDC and the UP to emulate from Cllr. Brumskine and the Liberty Party by remaining civil and peaceful in seeking redress to whatever concerns. We challenge any side that would want to protest results of the runoff, to muster enough courage like Cllr. Brumskine and go before the law to seek remedy rather than using violence.

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