The Inevitable Run-off: The Litmus Test Is Keeping Our Peace

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The October 10 presidential election has finally come and gone and there was no clear and conclusive winner. Football legend George Weah maintained his early lead and after the National Election Commission’s tally of 95.6% of all votes cast, he garnered 39.0% of the vote, compared to Vice President Joseph N. Boakai’s 29.1%.

The Liberian Constitution stipulates as an absolute majority 50% plus one of the vote for anyone to be the outright winner of the presidential election. There is no way that the remaining 4.4% can get anyone the absolute 50% plus 1 majority.

So with neither of the two leading contenders reaching that constitutional threshold, a run-off is inevitable.

Here now begins the scramble, on the part of the two front runners, Weah’s CDC and Boakai’s UP, for political alliances. Each will be seeking the endorsements of all of the 18 other parties that contested the election. Of course, CDC and UP will not be paying much attention to the many inconsequential presidential contestants whose names were hardly mentioned in the vote counting. The two leading parties will rather be directing their attention primarily to three parties that showed their mettle in the count. They are Charles Brumskine’s Liberty Party (LP),  Alex Cummings’ Alternative National Congress (ANC) and Prince Johnson’s Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR).

However, we are constrained to sound a note of caution here.

CDC’s Weah and UP’s Boakai will have to launch a vigorous campaign aimed directly at the voters of these three parties themselves, those of LP, ANC and MDR. Why? Because we are not sure to what extent the leaders of these three parties, LP, ANC and MDR, are able to control their partisans. Can Counselor Brumskine, Mr. Cummings and Senator Johnson be relied upon to tell their partisans whom, between CDC and UP, to support?

This, therefore, calls for a two-pronged campaign strategy on the part of CDC and UP—first, to open negotiations with each of the three party leaders; and second, to go directly to the LP, ANC and MDR partisans, if the two contesting candidates in the run-off want to be sure of winning over the voters of the other three parties.

This alone is tacit proof of the total uselessness and foolhardiness of 20 political parties having contested the presidential elections. To what avail did all these other parties put their hats in the presidential race—just to do nothing and, for the vast majority of them, to be hardly even mentioned in the counting?

We pray that in preparation for the next presidential race six years from now, the Legislature will definitely raise the bar permitting people and parties intending to participate in the elections, so that not every Tom, Dick and Harry will be able to put his hat in the race and make Liberia a laughing stock again. Should the Legislature not take this advice, who knows, next time there may easily be 30 presidential candidates, further messing up the elections and robbing it of excitement and seriousness.

The two leading parties now have an opportunity to put  some spirit into the campaign in these next two weeks and work their hardest to forge alliances and bring out voters en masse to participate in the November run-off.

There is a particular reason we make this appeal. It has to do with our peace. Each of these contesting parties, CDC and UP, must put forward a very dynamic campaign so that whoever comes out on top will win so convincingly that there will be no chance of anyone crying foul.

But a lackluster and unconvincing campaign on either party’s part—CDC or UP—will open the gate for electoral disputes and fuel all kinds of recrimination (accusation, retaliation) or worse.

We, therefore, call on both parties to get real busy and do what they have to do, within the bounds of the law, so that whoever wins will do so convincingly, leaving no room for reproach—or worse.

Authors

4 COMMENTS

  1. Liberians will reap what they sow in this election!!!

    When it comes to voting in this 2017 run-off election between Joe Boakai and George Weah, Liberia is on the verge of doing exactly what Americans blue collared, rural dwellers, and disgruntled unemployed Americans did by voting for a billionaire Con-man named Donald Trump: a bad character, an unqualified, fast talking, know-nothing, reality talk-show New Yorker.

    Be careful Liberians! We will reap whatever we sow! Electing George Weah as President to manage the complexities of a fragile country like Liberia is synonymous to disgruntled Americans, without thinking of the consequences, elected unqualified Donald Trump to manage the complicated office of a Super Power Nation.

    Donald Trump and George Weah have money and fame; but both men lack the following skills to govern any nation.

    The two men lack moral character, temperament, calmness, coolness, and critical thinking skills to execute the office of the president in time of difficult circumstances.

    In the case of George Weah, since 2005 the late Bacchus Matthew and other ambitious politicians exploited George Weah’s popularity for their personal aggrandizement. They enabled George Weah to believe that his popularity and soccer prowess qualify him to be president of Liberia.

    I have noticed over the years, since the inception of CDC and other mushrooming fly-by-night political parties in Liberia, there has been no sound policy statement or manifesto from these political parties, or even sound execution in their individual legislative duties; or proposal for constitutional amendment (racist citizenship/dual citizenship clause, reduction in presidential/legislative term limits) to meet modern economic reality. George Weah dismal performance as a legislator is a testament to his weak leadership skills.

    I wonder what moral character of leadership if George Weah, with Jewel Howard Taylor as Vice President, were to win this election? Are we resurrecting Charles Taylor’s and Samuel Doe’s dictatorial leadership? Are we going to resurrect Charles Taylor’s chaos, confusion and distraction that led to Liberia’s instability?

    We are heading to a crucial run-off between Joe Boakai and George Weah. Liberians should think seriously about the consequences of putting our children’s future in the hands of George Weah and Jewel Taylor, who assumed the Executive Branch is their entitlement. George Weah is a play boy, a womanizer, knows-nothing except playing soccer. He lacks financial discipline; he lacks moral character; he lacks administrative skills, and he is a flamboyant showman.

    Between the two candidates left standing, Joe Boakai’s moral character, his patience, his wisdom, his fiscal responsibility, his administrative skills, his calmness, his coolness, and last but not all, his experience are some of the reasons I plea with my fellow Liberians and those defeated candidates to put Liberia’s economic progress; Liberia’s peace and security first by voting wisely in this pending runoff election.

    Let us put the hyper- partisanship nonsense aside and stop living in the moment. Some of our candidates and also mine, despite their fabulous leadership skills, were defeated; but, we should stop sacrificing our children’s future on false promises and fame.

    Stop looking at the party! The party is symbolic. Instead, look at the individual character who is about to take over the leadership of this fragile country. Think about the consequences of voting on feelings and on hysterical euphoria. Voting is not a game!!!

    Liberia’s presidency over many years has been about showmanship, dictatorship, personal interest, financial greed, and power. Leadership has never been in the interest of the suffering Liberian people. This is not a show!!!

    My fellow Liberians, we will reap what we sow. We have come too far to turn our peaceful political clock backwards. Liberians will pay the price for sacrificing our children’s future if we vote for George Weah and Jewel Taylor based on popularity and showmanship. Vote based on substance: based on the candidate moral character, track record, judgement, credibility and leadership skills.

    My fellow Liberians, let us not do what the American disgruntled, blue collared, unemployed voters did…. voting for Donald Trump! Many Americans are now regretting the consequences by voting for Donald Trump… a bad character, an unqualified, fast talking, know-nothing-con-man; a womanizer, and a reality talk-show New Yorker.

    May God bless Liberia as we struggle to make a wise choice that could make or break Liberia!!!!!!

  2. The topic of this editorial is “The Inevitable Run –off: The Litmus Test Is Keeping Our Peace”. And the author unambiguously mentioned his purpose as follows:

    “There is a particular reason we make this appeal. ‘It has to do with our peace’. Each of these contesting parties, CDC and UP, must put forward a very dynamic campaign so that whoever comes out on top will win so convincingly that there will be no chance of anyone crying foul… But a lackluster and unconvincing campaign on either party’s part—CDC or UP—will open the gate for electoral disputes and fuel all kinds of recrimination (accusation, retaliation) or worse”.

    This is why we’re jolted by the abuse rained on one of the candidates in the previous comment. One can ignore personal attacks at candidates by illiterate rabbles, but when an intelligent person spews venom that may provoke retaliation against the opposing candidate, sooner or later a toxic mix of war of words emerges with the potential of jeopardizing “peace” during campaigning. Even in politics civility rules; after all, presidential elections are just expressions of public opinion via votes regarding who should temporarily lead the country.

    Put another way, no amount of temper tantrums would affect how the electorate cast their votes on November 7, 2017.

    The next president is definitely going to be either Vice President Joseph Nyuema Boakai or Senator George Manneh Weah; both know each other very well, and, reportedly, have been on friendly terms for a long time. Moreover, many well – meaning Liberians can attest to how mild – mannered and endearing the duo is. And as the editorial indicates, the “litmus test” of the “inevitable run – off” is about “keeping our peace”. No one, therefore, should say or do anything to throw a monkey wrench on that collective aspiration: Let us allow the true will of the Liberian people to prevail.

  3. Personally, this is the right way to go when it comes to democracy but to make parties more tangible, they should have at least five thousand (5,000) registered constituents and $100,000.00 cash with 10% of that as registration fees and administrative costs for registration to the Election Commission; with other forms of assets that are 2:1 more than their liabilities subject to audit. At least this will indicate how responsible a candidate is and will bring in seriousness for our presidential candidates. For independent candidates, all applies but $25,000.00 cash, 10% registration and admin costs. Doing this will make constituents to think twice and develop caucuses for better potential candidate that brings value to their community and country.

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