The up-coming General and Presidential Elections appears to be a great reminder of the 1985 SECOM conducted elections in terms of the challenges. At the time, LAP, UP, and LUP were threatening flames to an NDPL victory whose standard bearer was the head of the transition from military to civil rule. That period also represented Liberia’s first multi-party elections. It was a time of careful expressions to avoid running into problems with Decree 88-A and its first cousins. Nevertheless, the nation was under the vibration of constitutional and political franchise. Never before were Liberians in high spirits to demonstrate their liberation from a defacto one party state.
Twenty six years later, LAP, UP, and LUB have been placed in the reverse with political partnerships formed by the opposition to remove the UP administration in a contestable elections. With the NDC formation and a seemingly strong CDC, the challenges facing President Sirleaf are not imaginary nor can they be underestimated. From all indications, the battle line is drawn between CDC and UP. Both are formidable; but who’s most formidable?
In the recent past, the NUDP presented the most formidable frontier. However, the awareness of future power and the inability to control the thought of success, its political leader, now standard bearer, reverted to the Caldwell Base style of leadership and autocratism which challenged democratic concepts and submit to a future doom of the republic. With waves of resignations and defections, Prince Johnson is like a fish out of water gasping for the air of survival and the extinction of his popularity earned by the presence of notable democratic figures.
Drawing from the results of the 2005 General and Presidential Elections, LP’S strongman Charles Walter Brumskine took the position of formidability when he claimed the third position. It was speculated that with the UP becoming the Government of the day, he would sail as the most formidable opposition considering the credibility crisis which dogged the CDC party and diminished its popularity at the time. Unfortunately, the Liberty Party contribution to the society like other opposition has only been intellectual with no substantive thing to show. Moreover, the LP neutral position in the second round projected Brumskine as one that is self-seeking and un-nationalistic, says an analyst.
The Congress for Democratic Change has recaptured its position as the most formidable opposition. With its massive demonstration of support, it is believed the Unity Party will have to demonstrate a greater resolve if it must retain state power. Howbeit, there have been resentments of the CDC style of campaign from citizens of other persuasions such as, the raining of insults and the un-necessary breaking of traffic laws thus holding captive peaceful citizens going about their businesses to give the impression of massive CDC support that brings the city to a standstill. They further contend that the LP is capable of also causing traffic obstruction but would that be commitment to up-holding the laws?
There is the Tubman and Sirleaf factor that comes into play. Would this campaign be in the cause of the people or efforts by two family friends who parted ways years ago to undo each other? Would the CDC administration be one of reprisals against the current leader and her supporters or would it be to undo everything that has been achieved? As political pundits ponder over these issues, one can be sure of what the intents would be by way of public pronouncements.
The leader of the Independent Union for Progressive Leadership, Honorable Emmanuel A. Lomax declared that the President should be given the second term to achieve the domestic agenda which is the outcome of the attainment of international credibility, confidence, and other milestones that brought Liberia from a failed state to an admirable one internationally; from an economically wreckage nation to a resuscitated one; from a huge indebted nation that no one in the international community and financial institutions wanted to do business with to a debt free nation among others.
But the minds and pronouncements of the opposition, these are no achievements to warrant a second term. They chorused that President Sirleaf has failed and has mortgaged the nation. This suggests that the domestic agenda which is the product of international confidence and partnerships would be altered. A new administration would do away with current partnerships and seek new ones. It suggests further that the principle of continuity would be violated. Liberia’s domestic and foreign policies would have new beginnings as new leaderships opposed to the former are established by the people.
An issue of great contention that would be conspicuously used as campaign weapon against the Unity Party is corruption. Each administration of the past had been condemned for corruption. Opposition leaders of the past believed they could salvage the nation from the burning scourge of corruption. The PRC condemned thirteen prominent leaders to execution for rampant corruption with the support of the progressives at the time. Unfortunately, corruption could not be contained by them. They ended up more corrupt than the administration they toppled.
LAP, UP, UPP, LPP, and LUP took up the battle against the NDPL for corruption. Their struggle led to the Brooks’ Amendment being invoked against the NDPL Government as well as the withholding of the American Rice Grant otherwise called the PL480. Unfortunately, Dr. Sawyer who was one of the champions of the struggle could not contain corruption as it became rampant. Taylor could not contain it also-a cause that led him to war among others. President Sirleaf finds herself in the struggle to contain it by measures of policies and the establishment of institutions. These efforts seem not to yield the expected results.
There are today the Tubman, Brumskine, Mayson, Johnson, and others who are championing the anti-corruption drive. Can they contain it? The failure to contain corruption is embedded in the human failings of man. It is a vice that cannot be eliminated. It is a creative problem; a spirit that indwells man. To therefore use corruption as a campaign weapon will be a bad beginning that would bring future indictment to those who make excessive pledge to eliminate it. It shall haunt and it shall discredit.
But what does the UP say about the challenges facing it this election period. Shall they falter; are they losing hope of a CDC victory; or a Brumskine? Counselor Sherman predicts a first round victory. The President is in high spirit and believes in a first round victory. The IUPL with its nationwide structures has also given confidence to the process. Where ever the victory lies, Liberia’s future must be the first.
There is one strange thing in the process. Tubman and Sirleaf share the same friends internationally. Who has the greater friends and who would the friends choose to support. In Liberia’s politics, the international factors bring greater influence domestically. With only six years and much to show, Kofi Woods believes she should be given the second chance to firmly establish the domestic agenda after which, Liberia deserves generational transition. This is the hope of the youths. This is the hope of Liberia, says the respected human rights believer and the crusader of democracy.