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Liberians vote for renaissance through continuity

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Supporters of Liberian presidential candidate Alexander Cummings arrive atop a car to attend a campaign rally in Monrovia on October 7, 2017, three days ahead of the country’s elections.ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP


As Liberians drop their ballot papers into election boxes on October 10, 2017, they must keep their eyes on the years 1989 to 2003 not as cold arithmetical numbers but as a terrible lake boiling with barbaric rage in brother killing sisters and mothers and sons and fathers of other Liberians; a horrible swamp of terror which Liberians struck with a rod of unity: of declaration that ‘enough was enough’ in their wilderness of loss of human solidarity, and departure from the road to nation-building.

As each ballot paper drops it must be pulled down by a force of gravity made of aspirations of a people in a moment of renewal and renaissance rolled forward by a train fuelled by confidence that continuity in the best achievements of 12 years of Mama Ellen Jonson Sirleaf’s shall be built upon and not be disrupted by doubts and stumbles of new novices at the helm of government.

As Liberians drop their ballot papers they must recall recent lessons from sister African countries that have held elections in 2017. From the Peoples Republic of Angola is the lesson that 38 years of leadership by President Eduardo Dos Santos was followed by the National Electoral Commission organising an efficient and transparent election which international observers praised. The leaders of the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, (MPLA), were mindful of the tragic record of Jonas Savimbi, leader of opposition UNITA, dragging the country into a civil war which ravaged the country from 1992 to 2002. On knowing that he had lost the presidential election, he took a people fresh from a liberation war against Portuguese troops, into killing each other. He gave racists leaders in apartheid South Africa and Namibia a pretext and platform to invade and seek to become a gallant Angolan people’s new colonisers.

The Angolan people put forth their faith and determination to build a developed nation and country by voting for the former Vice Chairman of MPLA and Minister of Defence, Joao Laurenco as their new leader. Rejecting a return to uncertainty, insecurity and ravages of civil war, they have taught a lesson which Liberians must learn from by electing Vice President Joseph Boakai.

As Liberians drop ballot papers into election boxes they must keep their eyes on the tragic arithmetic that over one million refugees fleeing war and carnage in Southern Sudan arrive into camps in Uganda. Lactating mothers, toddlers, and teenagers trek long distances to cross Uganda’s border in search of security; telling stories of husbands and fathers either slaughtered or forced to fight in tribal carnage. The point to remember is that these people had suffered through over 30 years of war against the Arab-dominated Northern Sudan. Their selfish, greedy and egotistic leaders forgot their pains of the past and plunged them back into a people mocked and pitied by the world community for failing to learn from their recent tragic history. This must be a road which Liberian shall reject with their votes on October 10, 2017.

As Liberians drop their ballot papers on October 10, 2017, they must keep their ears on the historic courage shown by the Supreme Court Justices of Kenya on September 1, 2017. Africa and Liberia were astounded and thrilled by the reality of Kenya’s judiciary cancelling the election of Uhuru Kenyatta, a sitting president. This lesson of an institution – the Judiciary – standing up against whims, desires and egos of politicians while defending the will and aspirations of the people in democratic politics, must be imbibed by their counterparts in Liberia as the nation goes to the polls.

Kenya’s Supreme Court relied on a professional statistician to affirm that totals of votes counted at polling stations were altered fraudulently by the time they reached the central offices of the electoral authority. Results sent by E-MAIL were intercepted and fraudulently altered. Liberians must be vigilant in protecting their votes while the National Electoral Commission must boost public trust in their logistics and procedures.

The October 10, 2017 election promises to give Liberians the first transfer of power through democratic elections when President William Tubman succeeded Edwin Barclay 44 years ago. Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai and his running-mate, Speaker of Parliament, Emmanuel Nuquay, bring with them long records of struggle to rebuild Liberia in partnership with President Ellen Sirleaf.They bring with them heart-wrenching management of our struggle against the Ebola invasion and its threat to halt the gallant determination of Liberians to stay on the road of the African renaissance with their brothers and sisters around the continent. They bore the pain of again calling for help from ECOWAS countries whose soldiers had shed blood to close the jaws of our civil wars. They have these vital memories to build on if voted into office.

In the determination to build trust in Liberians about their government and its leaders’ resolve to reconstruct the country, Boakai and Nuquay joined Sirleaf to enact ‘‘The Freedom of Information Bill.’’ They were fully aware of the glare of sunlight it would enable Liberians to shine into corridors of power, but they knew that building a democratic culture requires courage and the refusal to fear the pangs of fear about being judged by the electorate. This is a great asset they are going to take into governance when elected on October 10, 2017.

Some commentators have regarded as a sign of weakness the apparent delay in forming the Unity Party’s election Campaign Team. They also see trouble in a struggle between those among them who had been close to Sirleaf and those left ‘‘outside’’. The first should be seen as a sign of effective deliberation before reaching important policy decisions; while the second is a healthy promise that creative and dialectical debates will characterise the Boakai –Nuquay Administration as Liberia builds on past achievements and avoids past mistakes in making policy and implementing them.

Candidate Boakai has the experience of past elections stoutly monitored by the Women’s Situation Room and its co-travellers consisting of churches, NGOs, youth groups and professional associations and would see them as legitimate stakeholders in the electoral process, thereby avoid injecting undue suspicion, suspicion and possible conflict into the vote-management process.

Liberians want concrete services delivered to them; their own enterprises and entrepreneurship as they struggle to rebuild their homes, their education, and their country. The Boakai – Nuquay team has hands-on experiences in these matters. Liberians long for leaders who will ensure them peace and stability. The Vice President and the Speaker will build on the enormous efforts which Sirleaf invested in this sector; an effort which saw her lead the determination by leaders of ECOWAS to prevent post-election violence in The Gambia; and earn her a Nobel Prize for her work on peace for women during our country’s civil wars. In voting for Boakai-Nuquay Liberians are investing in their future.


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Eduardo Dos Santos

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