Executive Order #65 Recalls Memories of 1985 Rigged Elections

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News Analysis

Robert Sirleaf, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s own natural born son, has filed a lawsuit against her, petitioning the Supreme Court of Liberia to rescind (cancel, repeal) Executive Order 65.

Executive Order #65, signed by the President last Wednesday, bans all concerted mass movements of people on the streets of Monrovia during the ensuing special elections, including in particular rallies, demonstrations and parades.  These, according to Executive Order #65, are prohibited and for 30 days after the announcement of December 16 senatorial election results. 

These restrictions on the civil liberties of the people, guaranteed them by Liberian Constitution, were, according to the President, “intended to strengthen the efforts of the government to contain the spread of the Ebola virus.”  It is also designed to “protect the security of the state, maintain law and order and promote peace and stability in the country.”

But this Executive Order has received a barrage of criticisms from many politicians, political parties and Legislators, 14 of whom signed a petition demanding that it be revoked.

The eminent Liberian lawyer, Counselor Charles Walker Brumskine, too, has demanded that the order be revoked because, he said, it “violated the Constitution and laws of Liberia. 

This Executive Order #65 has the potential to lead the country into anarchy, he declared, insisting that “it is unlawful, bad, wrong and does not serve the interest of Liberia.”

Another renowned Liberian jurist, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, has come down hard against the issuance of Executive Order #65.

So has the leading opposition figure and Montserrado senatorial candidate, the Congress for Democratic Change—CDC’s George Weah, who vowed few days ago to bring his masses of people back on the streets in protest against Executive Order #65.  But he was talked out of it.

Montserrado senatorial aspirant Christopher Neyor has also vehemently protested against the Executive Order.

Now the President’s own son, not a lawyer but a banker-turned politician—also a Montserrado senatorial candidate, has come down hard on his mom, the President of Liberia, and not only talked against it.  He has also run to the Supreme Court and filed a lawsuit against her to have the Executive Order revoked.

The question could, however, seriously be asked how sincere is Robert Sirleaf?  Or is this a ploy to pave the way for things to come?

These questions are germane (relevant, connected) because the President, Robert’s mom, made it clear in her Executive Order #65 that it, the Executive Order, was restricted to “the streets of Monrovia during the ensuing special elections.”   

The question is, why “the streets of Monrovia” only?  If the banning of these parades, demonstrations and rallies are intended to contain the deadly Ebola virus, which has engulfed the entire country, then why is the Executive Order restricted to Monrovia alone, and not the entire country? What about Bong County, which just recently showed more than 30 new Ebola cases?

There is another clause in Executive Order #65 that lends credence to those who have called the Order “sinister,” which means evil, malicious, foul.  The clause states: that Executive Order #65 shall remain in force “for 30 days after the announcement of election results”!

The key, critical, urgent question: Why should the Order remain in force “for 30 days after the announcement of the election results”?  The immediate follow-up question is, what is the President up to?

In today’s editorial, the Daily Observer asserts that there are many who suspect a link between this Executive Order and the President’s son in the senatorial race.  And that is why some are calling the Order “sinister.”

Said today’s Observer editorial, “There were two portions of the Executive Order that raised RED FLAGS!  First, it is to last for 42 days, well past the date when the election results would be announced. 

“The second is that the enforcement of the Executive Order is restricted to “the streets of Monrovia.”  Why Monrovia only, people are asking.  Is there a fear of violent public reaction when the Montserrado result is announced?  What would that result be; and why the fear?”   

The Observer editorial said further, “People who were around for the 1985 presidential and legislative elections recall what Head of State Samuel Doe did on the day the results were announced: he ordered everyone to stay home and the streets of Monrovia were barricaded with soldiers and armored cars! 

Of course, the purpose of this massive show of force was obvious:  Doe and Elections Commissioner Emmet Harmon blatantly (barefacedly) rigged the elections and they wanted no trouble afterwards.

President Sirleaf herself can fully understand public suspicion surrounding her Executive Order #65, for she was present to remember that it was Jackson, not Samuel Doe, who REALLY WON that election!

So the question remains: Executive Order #65’s enforcement “30 days after the announcement of the election results” would be for what?  Are the authorities anticipating another November 1985 scenario?

Heaven help us!

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