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.