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Reading into Bank Ki-moon’s report to the Security Council

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In his report to the Security Council in New York this week, United Nations Secretary-General Bank Ki-moon observed that there is no clear front-runner in Liberia to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in next year’s presidential and representative elections.

He also reported that given that only one electoral round is required for legislative elections, some seats may be decided with slim margins, raising prospects for numerous election-related disputes.

Mr. Bank’s observation should send a wake-up call to politicians here on the need to put their acts together and work overtime if their dream to provide the next leadership for the country were to be achieved. With nearly two dozen political parties already registered for the 2017 polls, and more to come, party leaders and presidential hopefuls are jostling over who should head which coalition, alliance or merger with no clear conclusion.

One recent attempt to forming an alliance by some 15 political parties in Ganta, Nimba County turned out a fiasco with some of the parties from there, namely; the CDC, NPP and LPDP entering a new marriage outside of the so-called “Ganta Declaration.”
As seeming lack of will and selfish interest supersede common national objectives, President Sirleaf’s governing UP which is featuring Vice President Joseph NyumahBoakai for the presidency, is increasingly being placed in a position of strength (in a scenario of one Vs. all), given that opposition parties are far from presenting a united front, which will be a crucial factor in next year’s elections.

Among the many aspirants for the presidency, some had contested and lost in the two recent elections – 2005 and 2011, including Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskineof the Liberty Party and George Weah of the embryonic Coalition for Democratic Change, among others.

In the last two polls, none of the dozens of parties here won the first round, including the ruling UP, which speaks of the depth of divisive politics in Liberia with parties being organized on the basis of tribal and regional ties rather than national focus.

In such scenario, leadership is direly wanting in a country that had suffered a devastated civil war instigated by bad governance, political exclusion, cronyism and other negative vices.  The UN Secretary-General described the current political environment in Liberia as dynamic, with party alliances forming and splintering on the basis of personalities and expediency rather than ideology, and warned that given the President appoints nearly all public officials, the coming elections would be seen as a “winner-takes-all” contest which could be highly contentious, as was the case in 2005 and 2011, respectively.

We need an urgent turn around if this country should sustain the peace and consolidate the gains achieved in the last 11 years by the way we approach the coming elections. Liberia should become paramount in the decisions we will make at the ballot box, and subsequently in leadership no matter who eventually emerges winner in 2017.

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