Liberia: A Good Player Does Not Fight for Jersey

This round of elections, it appears that the Liberian electorate has worn their intentions on their sleeves. The vexation of the general public against the Weah administration had conjured up a massive referendum on his performance as President of Liberia. 

Don’t take our word for it — the writings have been on the wall since the December 2020 Senatorial mid-term election, when Liberians cast their ballots to massively weed out ruling party senators. 

Therefore, in 2023, most voters did not hide their sentiments, except for some in government—mostly civil servants who felt that their jobs would be threatened if they were heard “talking against the government”. 

So when the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission, Davidetta Brown Lansanah, appeared to be mincing the announcement of election results, especially concerning the presidential race, many felt she was intentionally stalling the process for reasons best known to herself. Widespread speculation suggests that she may be allegedly trying to help the incumbents “buy time to figure out their fallback position.” 

And that could have been very well true—who knows? 

However, on Friday, October 13, during the NEC’s daily press briefing, she disclosed that there had been two notable disturbances at a voting precinct in Nimba County and the tally center in Montserrado County. According to her, these disturbances caused significant delays to the vote tally process. Hours were wasted because certain individuals started to see a decline in their political party’s performance at the polls, according to the tallied results. 

Who were these individuals? Chairperson Lansanah would not say. However, being the chief umpire of this highly contentious electoral process, one would expect that she would have been firm enough to issue a ‘yellow card’, or a name-shaming, at least. 

“Not everything that is lawful is expedient,” the Bible says. Perhaps she sought to maintain an “air of neutrality” so that one party or another would not have reason to cry foul or favoritism.  However, before she had the chance to justify her slow pace of results announcements, two other political parties released statements around the same time last week, claiming NEC’s alleged lack of diligence about the vote tally process. Importantly, these two political parties were not the same group that she said were disrupting the vote tallying process.  

It would take the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), a local non-governmental organization that monitors national elections, to name the disruptors. The alleged culprits: the ruling party itself — Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). 

The ECC went further to name the Chairperson of the Governance Commission, Garrison Yealue, who is also deputy campaign manager for President George Weah’s reelection bid, as the one who “appeared at the Magisterial Office with seven vehicles containing supporters of the CDC to file a complaint.” According to the ECC, “the presence of Yealue and his partisans disrupted the tallying proceeding. This led to the suspension of the process for several hours during the day which compelled national and international observers to leave the center. The situation was brought under control with reinforcement from the Joint Security Taskforce.” 

“At the SKD Sports Complex, ECC observers reported that the tallying process was abruptly disrupted allegedly by supporters of the Coalition for Democratic Change. The disruption lasted for three hours (7pm-10pm) and the scale of the interference placed the lives of the observers at risk. As of this morning, the tallying had resumed at the two centers,” the ECC reported.

“These incidents are calculated attempts to interfere with the tallying process, to undermine the credibility of the election results and to compromise the integrity of the outcome of the elections,” the ECC said. 

The use of fear mongering and intimidation is a signature tactic of the CDC. We stand to be corrected — no other political party in Liberia today or in the last twenty years, has behaved like this. 

So when it was alleged on Thursday night that Grand Gedeh Superintendent Kai Farley had brought ex-rebel generals from the southeast to Monrovia to create fear and chaos, the believability of this was not far-fetched. Now, even some foreign missions near Monrovia admit that there is a high degree of truth to this. And they are not taking chances!

The unfortunate thing about the use of fear mongering and intimidation during an electoral contest, especially as an incumbent, is the clear indication that all other fair and not-so-fair avenues to perpetuate oneself in power have failed. 

And now this. 

Rest assured, the Liberian electorate demonstrated on October 10 that they have inoculated themselves against fear mongering and intimidation. 

Rest assured that soccer legend George Manneh Weah does not want to go down in history as the President who allowed his supporters to cause bloodshed to perpetuate him in power. 

Rest assured that Liberians will only accept a credible election result. For this, we urge everyone to allow the NEC to do its job. 

After all, a good player does not fight for jersey.