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Weah out of touch?

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-Dr. Whapoe gives reason for bad results

In giving his thoughts as to why unofficial provisional senatorial election results largely appear to be against the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) in “must win counties,” opposition Vision for Liberia Transformation Party (VOLT) political leader Dr. Jeremiah Z. Whapoe says President George Manneh Weah is out of touch with the Liberian people.

“But this president is out of touch; he’s out of touch, he does not know how Liberian people feel. The only way he will know how Liberian people feel is to send a message to him like the way the voters have sent it to him these few days by denying him,” Dr. Whapoe said Wednesday, 9 December.

In an exclusive interview with this paper at his office in Sinko a day following the polls, Dr. Whapoe claims that Mr. Weah is not cognizant of the Liberian people’s problem and this is resulting in possible defeat of some candidates whom he supports in the election.

“The president is out of touch, he’s not cognizant of the Liberian people’s problem. He’s not seeing the people’s problem like the way they see it; he sees it in his own camera. He sees Liberian people’s problem as he sees to buy his yacht to write his name on it,” Dr. Whapoe continues.

He believes that the provisional senatorial election results are a message to the ruling CDC government that it is not the hirer, but the citizens do, noting that when the employer is tired of working with you, they fire you.

The National Elections Commission (NEC) has not announced provisional results, but the public appears to get updated unofficially by media houses that are reporting based on information posted by NEC workers at various voting precincts across the country.

So far these information appear to suggest unofficially that the opposition candidates in key vote – rich counties are leading, but the NEC has to give the official provisional results.

The senatorial polls combined with the conduct of national referendum on Tuesday followed months of heated exchanges between the ruling establishment and the opposition in a tense political environment that had the vast majority of the population on its heels for unpredictable post-election events.

Anger over the government’s combination of the national referendum with the senatorial election has prompted the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) to urge its supporters to vote no to all the eight propositions contained in it, while the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) campaigned for a ‘yes vote’ to all propositions.

Some of the contentions raised against the referendum include lack of adequate awareness and education for the population and a fear that incumbent President George Manneh Weah could follow in the steps of his counterparts in neighboring Guinea and Ivory Coast to seek third term once the presidential tenure is dropped from six to five years, among others.

But Weah insists that he has no interest in a third term bid. In fact, Article 93 of the Liberian Constitution makes that very clear that any amendment would not benefit the incumbent president.

While expressing thanks to Liberians, Dr. Whapoe says Liberia is transforming towards a positive direction, noting that this is the first time for him to see Liberians to support campaign like the collection of over LD$2m for opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) Montserrado County senatorial candidate Abraham Darius Dillon.

Judging from the citizens’ financial and moral support to Mr. Dillon, an incumbent senator, Dr. Wahpoe thinks that Liberians have graduated from basing their decisions on demanding bags of rice, T-shirts and construction of roads from politicians, describing it as a plus for the citizens.

But Dr. Whapoe expresses hope that this same sentiment could be extended to the succeeding elections so that the essence of democracy can be known here.

“Democracy is not about buying votes, democracy is not about transporting people from one direction, from one precinct to another precinct just because the people that are in the precinct they do not admire your skill, they do not have aspiration for you, you transport people from one precinct to another precinct,” he adds.

According to the VOLT political leader, Liberians are becoming to vote with their conscience over voting under pressure or for economic benefits.

Dr. Whapoe urges that all the political parties here come together so as to make democracy stronger and promote competition.

He agrees that the senatorial election and the referendum were peaceful in certain places, but the election was not peaceful in other places.

Giving instances, Dr. Whapoe raises questions as to why a candidate’s vehicle had to be burned in Grand Cape Mount County and somebody had to get wounded, and why a suspect had to carry a single barrel gun at a political rally of opposition candidate Abraham Darius Dillon.

Days before the election was held, there were violent clashes in Grand Cape Mount County that saw the convoy of opposition candidate Simeon Taylor reportedly attacked and set ablaze allegedly by supporters of ruling CDC candidate Senator Victor Watson on Saturday, 5 December in Dambala Town, Porkpar District.

Regarding the discovery of a gun being carried by a man at Dillon’s rally, Dr. Whapoe cast a doubt that the armed suspect was a CPP supporter, saying it doesn’t make sense.

“That’s what he was told to say and he said it. So therefore, we are not convinced that he was a supporter of ours because he went to cause havoc, and I think he was planted into the rally so he can cause havoc there, he was not a member,” Dr. Whapoe notes.

Meanwhile, the VOLT political leader indicates that he is very impressed and proud of the Liberian people for proving that they can make wise decisions and that the country does not belong to certain people.

According to Dr. Wahpoe, the messages that the Liberian people are sending to President Weah ahead of the 2023 presidential election include the LD$16bn “that was not used properly,” the US$25m intended for mop up exercise, and the disappearances of prominent citizens without being protected by government, among others.

“And I strongly feel that that message will continue until 2023. I’m very pleased about the Liberian people’s decision. No matter how it turns… I think Liberian people turned out in a resounding way to send a clear message to this government that democracy matters,” Dr. Whapoe says.

The VOLT political leader explains that four auditors died here and there’s allegedly no actual result to their deaths and that President Weah has allegedly asked Liberians to take their own security into their own hands.

He suggests that the senatorial election results tell that Liberians are tired and they know what they want. He furthers that the referendum might not pass due to the number of invalid votes cast by voters due to lack of education and ignorance.

“Everybody has to be informed, education was not done over the period. It might not pass, it will not pass. Even if George Weah forces it … [if another] government comes we can nullify it. The provisions are there, the same way they’re doing it, we can nullify,” he says. By Winston W. Parley

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