Editorial: Tour Or Campaigning, Who To Believe?

The President of Liberia has initiated her much-publicized tour of the 15 counties of Liberia. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, last weekend (Saturday, February 26, 2011)  began her nation-wide tour in the West of Liberia in Grand Cape Mount County, and will  move onto Bomi and Gbarpolu Counties before proceeding to other counties of the Southeast, central  and northwestern regions.

An official of the Ministry of Information, in a recent radio broadcast, categorized the President’s tour as assessing completed or ongoing development projects and interacting with citizens in those parts of Liberia as a way of understanding their problems and other issues of local concern.

While the foregoing may be the official reasons by the Ministry of Information for the nation-wide tour, the exercise is also being viewed in certain quarters as a major campaign-tour in continuation of the President’s efforts to rally personal support for this year’s general and presidential elections in Liberia.

Be that either may be, it is an open fact that as President of a nation, it is incumbent on that individual to periodically or annually embark on such venture for familiarization or interaction with the rest of his/her people with whom such had not taken place for a while.

It is also very possible that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s nation-wide tour may have political objectives, most especially in the wake of the proliferation of would-be presidential candidates, as well as the inability of most of her so-called confidants in positions of trust in her government to attract votes from most of the counties they claim to be popular when they are really not. Perhaps sensing this, assessing development projects and interacting with the people in the 15-counties are being used as a cover-up by the President to politically solidify her positions in these counties, including those with huge voting populations.

Even if this is something to accept in totality, it is also an acceptable fact that the President of Liberia is under obligation to visit any part of the country  whether on a nation-wide tour or special or private visit,, or  whether elections are being held or not-and that’s the simple true.

It could even be either of those in the opposition quarters who may find himself or herself in the position of the incumbent- but again in African or Liberian politics, once is on the outside, nothing done in the national interest of the country by the incumbent is positive or good, And it is only because that individual is not president-this is something we have seen or witnessed in our country’s history for too long.

We do believe that other than “just sitting in Monrovia issuing press releases and statements, and hosting news conferences, as well as granting interviews” only to CODEMN the President and the government, opposition and political leaders must also leave Monrovia and reach out to the rest of the Liberian people in the rest of the country.

From a research we conducted a few weeks ago, many ordinary Liberian citizens are now harboring belief that opposition political parties and leaders are very frustrating because of their failure to hold together. Their annoyance comes from the back ground that when they should have organized themselves two years ago to reach out to them and establish structures, opposition political parties and leaders were still going about in Monrovia trying to put themselves in order just months to general and presidential elections.

While we may agree with our opposition leaders that President Sirleaf would also use her nation-wide tour to campaign, we equally do believe that they too may have the opportunities to do the same since the National Elections Commission may be seen as a “toothless Bull dog” despite being very powerful.

Whether President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who is coincidentally the political leader of the Unity Party is on a nation-wide tour or campaign for her re-election, we believe that our brothers and sisters in the opposition too, have equal opportunities, in terms of the enabling political environment to tour the nation or campaign just as they believe Ellen is doing.

Let our brothers and sisters in the opposition not only sit in Monrovia to un-necessarily complain and forget about themselves only to meet Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at the Executive Mansion as President for a second term, just as they did in 1997 when Charles Ghankay Taylor became President of Liberia while “arguing among themselves” at the Unity Conference Center in Virginia, outside Monrovia.

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