“Liberia’s Democracy Under Assault,” Says Pres. Sirleaf

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"Historians will look back at this time and judge us by how we conduct ourselves in this critical moment in time," President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said recently.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said that Liberia’s democracy is under intense assault as the country has been embroiled in a political impasse, the end of which is gradually becoming complicated and very unpredictable.

The President said democracy is only as strong as its weakest link, and at this moment, “our democracy is under assault, our country’s reputation is under assault, our economy is under stress.”

President Sirleaf’s comments appear to taunt opposition Liberty Party (LP) of Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine and three other allied parties’ quest to seek legal redress for alleged gross irregularities and frauds that they claimed have marred the October 10 presidential and legislative polls.

President Sirleaf’s tenure comes to an end early next year after two 6-year terms. However, the final round of polls that should have revealed her successor is being delayed due to the allied parties’ quest for legal redress. It is a political stalemate—which means the President’s much-anticipated dream of becoming the first elected head of state to hand power over to another democratically elected head of state is under immense threat.

In President Sirleaf’s nationwide address yesterday, she said “We politicians must do better. Our people went the distance. We achieved 73 percent voters’ turnout, demonstrating confidence in our country and electoral process. Historians will look back at this time and judge us by how we conduct ourselves in this critical moment in time.”

But the LP and its three collaborating parties, including President Sirleaf’s own ruling party (UP), who are seeking redress for the “massive irregularities in the elections,” have also accused her of interfering or influencing the outcomes of the elections in favor of a certain candidate.

Their accusation, they said, is based on some shady moves that the President has been making. An October 29 statement endorsed by the UP, LP and ALP made reference to a meeting the President convened with the National Elections Commissioners and magistrates from across the country at her private home.

The statement blasted the President for her alleged role(s) played in the “fraudulent” elections. “We are concerned about what is being considered as a ploy to create instability in Liberia. If the President was interested peacefully in the process she should have consulted political parties instead of inviting election magistrates and Chairman Korkoya,” the statement said.

They accused her of showing greed “in its most callous form” with the “intent of disrupting the fragile peace of Liberia,” which is supported by first-round results brought by other parties before the country’s election commission.

The office of the President, in a response, denied all of the accusations. “The office of the president wishes to state unequivocally that these allegations are completely baseless and an unfortunate attempt by agent provocateurs to undermine Liberia’s democratic process,” Presidential Press Secretary, Jerolinmek Piah, who addressed the press conference, said.

He said that all of the president’s meetings with election officials were “consistent with her constitutional role to ensure that the process was supported.”

“These allegations fall into the category of hate speech and inciting language which should be condemned by all peace-loving Liberians,” Piah added.

The President in her address yesterday said Liberian laws and democratic institutions are strong. “They will stand the challenge and they will stand the test of time,” she said.

She, however, noted that these can be strengthened “by demonstrating maturity not abuse our positions or misused the platforms that have been made available to the country by the news media and new technology. We must continue to respect each other, the rule of law, human kindness and decency.”

President Sirleaf noted that allegations, hate speech, and inciteful language, have been defining what should be the proud moment in the country’s history.

One person who has spoken strongly against the enormous threat that the country’s democracy faces, is President Sirleaf’s former Labor Minister, Atty. Samuel Kofi Woods. He said recently in Monrovia that Liberia’s democracy is still vulnerable and constantly threatened by leadership deficits which have plagued the nation.

Atty. Woods said, “After years of elusive peace, tenuous transitional justice (the Truth and Reconciliation process) and cosmetic national reconciliation, our attempt to consolidate our democratic credentials is under threat because we failed to properly reform our institutions.”

Woods warned that Liberia cannot continue to be a problem child in the ECOWAS region and on the African continent. “We must grow up and become responsible adults taking care of each other and building our nation,” he counseled.

However, President Sirleaf is also being accused of complacency, though some believe she instructed one of her office staff, Amos Siebo, who was involved in privately printing Voter Cards out of the jurisdiction of the NEC. He was later arrested by state security but has never been prosecuted.

“We still want to know where a staff of Madam President (Siebo) took the equipment that he was using to fix voter cards and why he was involved in such a clandestine act. We must get answers to these questions,” one of the political leaders said at a meeting in Monrovia yesterday.

“These are some of the means this President was using to influence this electoral process. Why hasn’t Siebo been prosecuted if there were no big hands behind it? They are all complacent because they were the ones using him to do that,” he added.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Indeed! Mistakes have been made in Liberia’s 2017- ELECTORAL PROCESS. However, it will get better. At least mistakes are being pointed out; and efforts are in progress, for remendies. As the saying goes; “It has to get BAD/WORST, to get BETTER.” We will get it right. The sooner, the better. Henceforth, the guidelines for all future elections must be made public. Let The People know the do and don’t… That’s the first step to transparency.

  2. The aim of the Liberian constitution is to strengthen national integration of all sectors of our diverse society into one harmonious body politic; and that can’t be achieved by exploiting provisions of the same first law to recklessly divide us: No way. It is like taking a page from scoundrels and bandits who ironically use sacred texts of religion – centered on human brotherhood – to fan hate and visit terror on others.

    In a nutshell, these elections are mostly about the evaluation of candidates for specific jobs; not the glorification of politicians, and until the latter get that they would always strut like little Lenins.

  3. It is the right of political parties to seek redress before the Supreme Court after exhausting the procedural remedies of the National Elections Commission (NEC). In this case, the Liberty Party and others have opted to challenge the validity of the October 10, 2017 representatives and presidential Elections before the Honourable Supreme Court. Do you think the court can resolve elections/political issues when the parties are refusing to hold discussions, make concessions and comprises among themselves? Our neighbors are tired to aid and direct Liberians after almost 12 years of stability and peace. We have to look within ourselves for sensible solutions to problems facing our democracy.
    We note that no one party or person is greater than the People of Liberia. Who should be the person to lead this charge to save our nation’ s integrity, respect and dignity? I will suggest a three person panel that will call on all the contesting parties behind closed doors to discuss their problems using a “win-win” technique of the Alternative Dispute Resolution. Under this hearing procedure, there can no losers, as Liberia becomes the ultimate winner. Apologies and consent of errors will be conceded where applicable and clear with the view of moving the run-off forward. We must look in ourselves and present the best for the country. More so, we should not let this opportunity slide fade away.
    The second thing is the Liberty Party’s withdrawal of its lawsuit/complaint before the Supreme Court and National Elections Commission (NEC) in consonance with the meeting. The political parties then will discuss with their representatives/constituents of the need to put Liberia first and be civil in the elections. There will be no name calling, use of profanity and the like on the social media of the participating political parties. This stalemate is affecting our way of life. Is this the way LP wants the ESJ/Unity Party to end its term? I think no.
    Under the circumstances, it is important, therefore that we do not sit by and allow the invitation of our neighbors to settle these Elections problems. The problems are made in Liberia. Liberia’s problems are numerous, starting from few accessible roads, lack of adequate training by NEC, lack of numbering of houses/structure and naming of street , no central data basis to deter fraud and the like, inadequate spreading of election information, bad roads conditions in the entire country, trucking of voters by political parties, missing names on the final voting roster, long queues at the precincts, poor lighting conditions, breach of public trust, etc. We need to know from the voting records whether the commissioners of NEC do vote on issues as a body or is the Chairman acting alone, as the Lord of the flies? Some of these problems are short-term, while others are for the long-haul.
    Really, there is a daring need for a little overall of the irregularities to the runoff. There must be enough qualified and trained staffers to reduce the waiting time at each polling station. I will suggest the employment of principals and teachers of high moral standards to monitor the various precincts for compliance purposes. As such, the voting process should take not more than 2 hours for voter to be cross-checked in order to vote. Votes from each precinct will be counted and communicated to the NEC on the spot. If for any reason, there are irregularities, such will be addressed by the Magistrates under the 48 hours window leading to the Hearing Officer of NEC in keeping with NEC, Voters Registrations Regulation at Sections 7.2 thru 8.3. The goal here is to promote fairness, fair play and compliance with the law of the land. We must trust but check those in public offices, mainly NEC’s representatives to infuse check and balance.
    My point here is we the People must strive to cooperate and consider the pride of the country. It is unfair to our people for some to sit in foreign parts and advocate that the elections not be held and delayed provided “if and only if” all the elections irregularities are resolved. We should not be ungrateful to our beloved President at the end of her term. Let us give the necessary support in reaching and reconciling our differences. We owe that to ESJ and the Liberian people to maintain the stability, peace with no political prisoners. No one person has the solution, but if we can pause, think, and act next time in the interest of everyone, Liberia will thrive.
    Many past and present officials of this loved ESJ government want to settle scores on the election issue. Why crucify Madam ESJ in front of the entire world? Who does this ridicule and disrespect help? For example, time limits for individual holding public offices are very long: senators are elected for nine years and representatives for six years with no limitation of terms; the justices of the Supreme Court retire at nurtured age of 70 years; the president is entitled to a two term only (See: Liberian Constitution, 1986). Final fixing of some of the elections problems are for the long haul and may give reasons why many contestants and well-wishers would seek public offices. We cannot discredit the electoral process with all the structural weaknesses this government inherited. We cannot make Ma Ellen to beg the leaders of the political parties to make peace and move the process forward or relies on Article 64 of the Constitution (Head of State Replacement, aka the succession act) for the holding of elections in 90 day. Today, everything is at a standstill; we have not reached that low to invoke the Article 64. Let us be satisfied with what we have and improve them for the future. Our current system needs much help to keep it afloat and working without anyone using the fragile system to settle scores.
    We, the people have nowhere to run making it mandatory for the heads of the political parties to sit down and talk about putting the country first. It is no disrespect that the political system is breakable, as explained in this piece. We do not have an electoral college to cut the chase as oppose to the popular vote. This is an area of vexation and inclusion into our democracy. Liberia is an emerging democracy with many developmental shortfalls and areas for improvements in and after this run-off election. In my thoughts and words, NEC cannot resolve all the irregularities and fraud to the likes of LP without skipping the January 15, 2018 deadlines to constitutionally turnover this beloved and peaceful ESJ lead government to the winner of the runoff. We conclude by saying, “let tal, yah.” Thank you.

  4. “Liberia’s Democracy Under Assault,” Says Pres. Sirleaf;
    Madam president, you got in power to enrich yourself, you family and your surrounding…
    Madam President, You and your kids started the assaults on Liberia and its people. You will go down in Liberia history as one of the worst president of Liberia. Madam President, you are very corrupt to the roots. How can you live with this when you see 98% of the population suffering. The resources of Liberia would make greater development of Liberia. It is unfortunate that the Liberian leaders fail them. Things that are down are: Education down; Health care down; sanitation down; infrastructure down and many more…
    I feel sorry for Opong why in the first place he had to associate with Ellen. Opong will not win this election and he should blame himself.

  5. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s statement that Liberian democracy is under intense
    assault is indeed a bologna. She should know that if the democracy is under assault,
    it is her who put it under assault. She know that very well. Just because she is afraid
    of living by and under the way and manner she governed the nation for 12 complete
    years, all that she had done while in office, the shadows are too opaque to look
    through and to live by. So, she is looking for immunity after office. No way! The only
    foolish person who could promise her that untimely immunity is George Manneh Weah.
    That is why she made him her choice and thus instructed NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya,
    staff and election workers not to allow matured legally registered voters but only the
    young uneducated, inexperienced and disrespectful for George Weah to vote. That is
    the serious undermining and deadly assault that she has and is causing Liberians.
    Shame on her if she is using this captionL “Liberia’s democracy is under intense assault”
    as a move to turn the people and international communities eyes aside from her.

  6. Siblings, does this lady really has shamefaced? Is she a really from the GOLA ethnic tribe from Liberia? Can someone please answer my question. What is her Gola sende society name? Because the Gola people that I know, are not heartless, subjective and shameless

  7. Madam president you are the one who rape the Liberian democracy. Your government didn’t condoted the election properly. You have cause a massive disaster in our democracy and brought shame to the liberian. We the liberian with fight hard to defend our peace but you and your family will not go unpunish

  8. Let the “historians look back and judge us.”(Saying of: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf). If they do, they will declare you the guilty one. You had no business calling the election commissioners to meet with you at your house at night prior to our elections. If you do not know, this is interference and by your act, you truly raised eyebrows and drew the spotlight of suspicion on you. We are men. You don’t play with our future and that of our children’s children. Your government during the past 12 years has been corrupt, lacked transparency, and now you undertook taint the election commission hoping to bring in some unqualified person to succeed you so that you can sit back and laugh when you leave power and then say “you see when I was in power, things were better, now they have a bouffon leading them. Nothing good is happening”. You don’t love Liberia. You are arrogant and corrupt. That is why your transfer of power would never be peaceful because instead of staying above the fray, you want to involve yourself in the competition. Look at your speech you delivered at the United Nations. There, you boasted that you were opting for “generational change.” That you were transferring power to the “young.” Who gave you that authority to transfer power to the “young?” You are old. Your Vice President is old and very experience. Why did you leave him as well as other old and experienced people out of your stupid equation(transferring power to the”young.”). Did the people elect you to decide who succeeds you or did they elect you to only serve your specific term and then turn over the office to whoever the people elect, whether old or young? I leave you with your conscience. God and the people will judge you, come what may.

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