Some weeks ago, the National Elections Commission or NEC released the guidelines and timetable for Liberia’s Presidential and Legislative elections in 2011. Within the guidelines and timetable, is specific period for campaigning (a few weeks to the main elections date).
It is no secret that before and after the issuance of the guidelines by NEC, campaigns were already being conducted by the ruling Unity Party and its leadership. It is an open fact that everywhere they went, including official functions, their primary focus is the 2011 elections. The accomplishments of the government are used to rally support and votes of the party and its political leader and incumbent President Ellen Sirleaf.
For instance, party Chairman Varney Sherman often rides his diplomatic vehicle carrying a license plate with the photo of President Sirleaf and emblem of the Unity Party in public gatherings and other occasions in and outside of Monrovia. We are of the fervent belief that as Honorary Counsel or Counsel General of whatever country, he must refrain from violating diplomatic protocols.
Whether it is intentional or not, we think as a Counselor-At-Law, he must understand that representatives of foreign nations or institutions/organizations must stay away from the internal politics of the country in which he works, as he’s doing in Liberia. Another instance has to do with the photo of the political leader of the Unity Party, President Sirleaf placed on each of the buses recently donated to the Government of Liberia by its Indian counterparts.
If there should be anything of such, we believe it must be the logo of the National Transit Authority or even the seal of the Republic of Liberia and not the photo of the President. Perhaps being cognizant of the fact that these buses would be plying routes linking the various communities, cities and towns, the decision was reached to place the “official ballot photo” of the Unity Party Standard Bearer for acquaintance long before the poll.
Whether or not these are violations of the election laws, what’s more puzzling is the conspicuous silence of Chairman James Flomoyan and the National Elections Commission.
To even believe that not a single member of NEC is fully aware of the campaign being conducted by the Unity party, it would be very foolhardy on the part of anyone. And granted NEC is unaware, now is the time to publicly explain to all of us who are unbalanced on this matter, i.e., whether these activities are in line or not with its guidelines. We think by so doing, it would be helping us to properly understand what’s actually going on.
While we do appreciate and acknowledge the accomplishments of the government thus far, most especially following years of devastation, the “rules of the game” must be adhered to by all political parties. Again, the National Elections Commission must publicly explain this matter, which we believe is very serious.
Being knowledgeable about the mentalities of some of our compatriots, let this issue not be misconstrued as being against the Unity party-no, not at all. Not a single political party in Liberia we disfavor. But the rules of the game are our concern, and we do suspect some missing links between the rules of the game, how it is being played and the role of the referee.
Again, there’s an urgent need for NEC to clear our minds of these doubts so as to know what is actually happening because it may not be politically healthy for our emerging democracy.