When Liberians joined long early morning queues on October 11 to vote for a president and legislators and then returned to vote for a president in the runoff of November 8, in spite of threats of violence being visited upon them, they did so because they believed in the current leadership of the country and wanted to send the message that the wont bow to intimidation!
But if news emerging from Monrovia is anything to go by, the president has decided to ignore the will power of all the people who put faith in her and ignored the threats to their lives to do business with people who created a state of stress and fear in the country.
For the records, it is not wrong for the president to reach out to fellow Liberians. But it is wrong for her to reach out to Liberians who use terrorism, without any justifiable basis to get what they want in total disregard of the rest of the population!
Other Liberians, especially those in civil society, are hiding under the guise of being independent and refusing to have a clear position on the current state of affairs and calls for a government of inclusion. Their “independence” has so blinded them that they have failed to see the dangerous writing on the wall regarding the post electoral situation. They are prepared to be mute and watch the wrong long term precedent being created in the name of maintaining their independence.
These “independent” civil society people fail to realize that when the nation goes down, independents, direct political actors, and disinterested people all suffer the consequences and would most likely be in the crosshairs of some of the antagonists!
Every Liberian should make it his or her business to publicly express outrage at people who want to participate in the electoral process and accept the outcome only if it suits them. Such people are dangerous and must be rejected till they change their attitudes!
Putting the Cart before the Proverbial Horse
If the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) wants to be part of the body politics of Liberia, the first step for the party is to publicly change its position on the just ended elections and apologize to the country for making false claims and creating fear within the population.
Failure to do this before any overtures are made to them will be akin to putting the cart before the proverbial horse. Such a move, as has already been embarked upon, sends the wrong signal to such groups and lays the basis for future mayhem in Liberia.
The bulk has to stop somewhere. The African continent can ill afford to continue the post-election “solutions” to problems as was countenanced in Kenya and Zimbabwe. If someone loses an election, regardless of whether they are the incumbent or the opposition, they must be prepared to gracefully accept defeat and allow the process to continue devoid of terrorism!
Although the same formula was touted in Ivory Coast, the majority of that country’s population rejected it. Though that meant that some fighting happened, the process was resolved in a clear cut way. The rogue leader in Laurent Gbagbo was exposed and he was booted from power!
It makes little difference to choose suicide over being murdered when given the choice because your murderer decides to allow you the choice of either having him kill you immediately or you do it yourself a day later. The end result is the same – you end up dead!
This is the case with the current arrangement with some elements in the opposition. They are now engaged in a joint committee discussion with the government without being demanded to publicly change their stance on the elections. What that, in effect means, is that those politicians go into those discussions from a position of perceived strengthen.
They will be thinking, and rightly so, that it is their threats of violence that won them the concession to talk. It is a dangerous gamble the president has made and it is bound to backfire if not now, sometime down the line.
Because these people think that they’ve succeeded in cowing the Liberian people, including the president, they are running riots. They even have the audacity to roam around terrorizing anyone who doesn’t agree with them with a huge degree of impunity! They even attempt to fire bomb into submission and expel their own party leaders who disagree with them!
That the government would know that this group has a hit list with people it wishes to eliminate on it and the government takes no action against them is dumbfounding! Some times in society, the potential for problem have to be spotted in advance and nipped in the bud before it festers and become cancerous.
Allowing the Cancer to Fester
The current political situation is slowly becoming cancerous and the authorities are doing very little to nip it.
In the lead up to World War II, Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany and started making all sorts of war noises. Other leaders in Europe took little notice. When he started rearming Germany, in total disregard of the Treaty of Versailles, which ended the First World War, his neighbors still played ignored the potential for trouble and only proffered lame protest!
When Hitler annexed Austria and invaded Czechoslovakia, the rest of the world simply condemned his move. When he further defied them and entered Poland, they were forced to go to war with him. Perhaps if they had acted earlier, he would have thought twice and the world would have been spared the Second World War and the millions that died in it! But they allowed the problem to fester!
We have the same situation currently obtaining in Liberia. People’s homes are being fire-bombed and the source of the problem is being ignored. People are death-listed and the authors of the death list are allowed to continue adding more names. In fact they’re being called to negotiate how many ministers they will appoint in government.
The problem is not being handled. It is being wished away and that’s extremely dangerous!
The Burden of Proof has Constructively Shifted
These people are claiming that the president won the elections through the use of chicanery. They admit that they have no evidence to prove their claim but yet they persist in making those claims. Based upon these claims of fraud, they have called for a government of inclusion and threatened violence if the president doesn’t give them positions in her cabinet.
Now that the president has apparently decided to heed their calls for a government of inclusion, the burden of proving whether or not there was fraud in the October 11 vote now passes on to her and her party.
She and her party now have to explain to the Liberian people how they managed to perpetrate the fraud the CDC claims. CDC obviously failed to prove their case, but by deciding to dialogue with the group after they threatened violence suggest that they might be right in their claim of fraud.
The fact that the party continues to hold onto its position of being cheated out of victory in the presidential vote further solidifies their argument and passes the need for explanation of how that fraud happened to the Unity Party.
This consideration also stands, even though the Supreme Court recently ruled that the CDC’s case of electoral fraud was without merit and lacked any basis of proof! Before this court ruling happened, the president and the Unity Party had already, by virtue of their overtures to the CDC, accepted the blame for the CDC not winning the elections because of “fraud”!
When the history books are written about this era of Liberia, the country can ill afford to have an inconclusive chapter. It can’t afford to have the Matilda Newport narrative being rehashed, where the storylines are so many that no one knows for a fact what actually happened!
Liberia Needs Economic Reconciliation More
Some people are claiming that the presidential overture to the CDC is for the sake of peace, but such people fail to take into account a little part of the jigsaw they are creating called precedence. What will happen tomorrow when another group lose.