Has Ellen Missed the Opportunity to Preside Over the Historic Political Transition?


All Liberians and the whole world have long been awaiting the history-making day when, following the October 2017 election, the outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf would hand over power to the newly elected Liberian leader.

That eventuality was billed as historic because such an orderly and peaceful transition had not happened since President Edwin J. Barclay retired from the presidency in 1943 and organized the election that year, followed by a peaceful and orderly transition, occasioned by the January 1944 inauguration of William V.S. Tubman as the new Liberian President.  That was 73 years ago.

This newspaper on Monday, September 25, 2017 recounted all of the political transitions since then, not a single one of which was a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.

After a number of short-lived presidencies, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected President of Liberia in the 2005 election.

After two terms in office, she was supposed to be approaching a triumphant ending to a political career which many say she launched in that 1972 commencement address at her alma mater, the College of West Africa (CWA).

Now that she is fast approaching an end to her nearly half century pursuit of power, which she finally succeeded in achieving for the past 12 years as President of Liberia, many very serious questions stare her in the face.

We wish in this editorial to confine ourselves to only one of these questions—how will Ellen leave power?  But it is only fair to share, even briefly, with our readers a few of these “very serious questions” staring her in the face.  The first is, what did she do for Liberia besides giving this country and Africa their first elected female President?

What became of her fight against her self-proclaimed “public enemy number one”—corruption?

What has she done to reconcile Liberia?

What has she done to rebuild the Liberian economy, which now seems to be at its lowest in many years?

Why has she allowed foreigners to take more control than ever before of the Liberian economy while the poor, hapless Liberians sit and watch?

What has she done for education which, by her own admission, has remained “in a mess”?  The international community pledged great help in the post-Ebola healthcare delivery system. Has this been accomplished?

What has she done to fix the nation’s agriculture—a nation that continues to import most of what it eats?

The ultimate question staring not only her but all Liberians and the world in the face is, how will Ellen leave power?

This question owes its relevance to the poorly managed and executed 2017 national elections.  All the Liberian media have recounted the many glaring irregularities, many bordering on fraud, that occurred in the October 10 election.

The saddest thing about this is that she has herself to blame for this.  Why?  First, by appointing a Chair of the National Elections Commission, Jerome Korkoyah, who the records show is an American citizen, a clear violation of the Liberian Constitution.  The public knows of no time she asked him a single question about this. Why? What is Ellen up to?

Secondly, she has done everything to confuse this electoral process, first by seeming to have been jumping from one party to another, in an apparent effort to choose a successor that she wants, not the Liberian people.

Chairman Korkoyah apparently knew this only too well, and that may be reason for so many election irregularities, even fraud, some of which have been opposed by some of  his very fellow NEC Commissioners.

Is Korkoyah’s seeming commitment to Ellen the reason he agreed to allow the Election Magistrates and NEC Commissioners to meet with President Sirleaf at her private residence — a highly questionable development?

Liberty Party’s Counselor Charles Brumskine has raised with NEC what he deems to be the gross irregularities and electoral fraud, pledging that if the Commission does not satisfactorily address his complaints, he will take the matter to the Supreme Court.

How long will this case linger before being finally resolved? Will it be before Ellen’s term comes to an end on January 20, 2018, when a newly elected President is to be inaugurated?

We all await with some degree of trepidation (fear, nervousness, foreboding), the answer to this question.


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