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Editorial: 2011: A Defining Year For Liberia

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President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in her New Year’s Day message to the nation reminded us all that 2011 is a defining year for us as a people and nation.

2011, she added, presents another opportunity for Liberians to consolidate their infant democracy by holding free and fair elections. She, admonished, thought that in the lead-up to October, the month of the presidential and legislative elections, “every Liberian has an important role to play.”

“I call on each and every eligible Liberian to register to vote starting in January, to support your favorite candidates, and to go to the polls and cast your vote on Election Day, in the general and presidential elections. Every vote counts, Ladies and Gentlemen, and I urge you to exercise your right to vote in a manner that will be beneficial to the future of this nation,” she added.

In deed we at The New Dawn, want to join the President in saying that the year, 2011 is a defining point for the nation. It is of no denying the fact that election in every country, particularly in Africa presents a period of uncertainty, especially so when there are fears that the basic democratic tenets would be sacrificed or compromised for personal greed.

And so Liberia is not an exception to such fears of uncertainty, especially so, when scars of the nation’s immediate brutal past are still on the wall, with some of its key actors as players in the upcoming elections. This is why we agree with Madam President when she says, “every Liberian has an important role to play.”

We believe, like Madam President, that the success of a peaceful violent free election depends on all and not the government in power and the Commissioners of the National Elections Commission alone. The process starts and ends with all and the level of participation of each citizen at all levels make the process more transparent. It is a chance to elect individuals capable to steering the affairs of our nation and not a time to seek opportunity to return us to our immediate ugly past.

Let us all stand up and so no to any attempt by any individual or group of individuals who would see this as opportunity to return the nation to its ugly past. And so, again, like Madam President, we call on every eligible Liberian of voting age to register to vote starting in January.

Let us also be reminded that in addition to the presidential and legislative elections, is a referendum, which focuses on key constitutional issues. The referendum, which is due in August, also provides us the opportunity to decide on how we want our nation to be. There are some constitutional issues such as the residency clause and that would require a yes or no vote.

It is in this light that we called on all religious leaders, politicians and heads of social groupings to encourage their members to actively participate in these elections-because in the absence of a peaceful and democratic society these institutions and social groups cannot function properly. This is an opportunity for us as a nation and people to change things through the democratic process and eschew violent means.

Happy New Year!!!

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