Former Liberian Finance Minister and former Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Milton Nathaniel Barnes has hailed Liberians’ peaceful participation in the presidential and legislative elections.
Mr. Barnes released a statement in Monrovia on Tuesday, 24 October 2023 to appreciate evidence of the strong roots that multi-party democracy is gaining in Liberia.
“I take this opportunity to express my thanks and appreciation to the people of Liberia for their peaceful participation in the first round of the Presidential and [Legislative] Elections held on October 10, 2023,” he said.
In July this year, Mr. Barnes withdrew his candidacy for the presidency citing “the best interest of the nation” as his primary concern.
The Liberian diplomat who served both Mr. Weah and Mrs. Sirleaf’s administrations noted that Liberia has now held its 4th Legislative and Presidential Elections since the end of the fourteen-year civil conflict.
“This, I truly believe, is evidence that multi-party democracy is gaining strong roots in Liberia,” Barnes said.
“The Liberian people showed tremendous commitment to the democratic process by their tenacity in withstanding the rain and the scorching sun to cast their vote in an orderly and peaceable manner.”
Barnes said he is very pleased that the conduct of the Liberian people during these elections proved that they are convinced that the best way to change leadership is through the democratic process.
However, he said it is concerning that much of the pattern of voting remained along tribal and ethnic loyalties.
But Barnes applauded Liberians for demonstrating maturity and sophistication in their voting.
“About sixty-nine point eight percent (69.8%) of the former members of the House of Representatives were rejected – dismissed by the Liberian people – their employers,” he said.
“This may be an encouraging sign as it shows a significant growth in political awareness, maturity, and sophistication among Liberian voters,” said Amb. Barnes.
In time, he said, perhaps ethnicity may play a smaller role as qualifications and effectiveness of candidates become preeminent.
Barnes admonished the two presidential finalists in addition to the new core of legislative leaders to beware that they will have a short “honeymoon period” before positive results in the governance of the country must begin to be seen.
“You must present a clear and progressive path towards a prosperous future. The Liberian people’s expectations are very high,” Barnes admonished.
He urged leaders to view themselves as representing the close of an era and the passing of the baton to a new generation of leaders.
He added that they must begin the next six years by building leadership steeped in intellect, experience, effectiveness, and integrity, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or even political affiliation.
Additionally, the former Finance Minister acknowledged the international community for its support of the Liberian electoral process, especially the robust monitoring and observation throughout the country.
He believes that there is indeed a paradigm shift in the political process of the country, urging all to welcome it and work together to improve the lives of the people.
Amb. Barnes noted that the Liberian people will no longer accept any excuses for delay or mediocrity.
“As we go into the Runoff Presidential Elections, let us go in peace, continuing the same trend we exhibited during the first round,” he urged.
Barnes cautioned that Liberia has a lot to gain if citizens maintain the peace. According to him, it is peace that paves the way for reconciliation, healing, national development, and progress.