As the clock ticks towards the scheduled December 8 elections, it is becoming increasingly clear by the day that tension is rising on both sides and may reach explosive proportions on that said date if nothing is done to address underlying issues contributing to the rise in tension.
Key to the holding of free, fair and transparent elections is a credible Voters Roll/Registry and this is not lost on the political opposition.
This is because drawing on experience gained from the conduct of the 2017 elections, it appears more likely than not that holding elections on the basis of a flawed and compromised Voters Registry is a recipe for trouble.
Supporters of this government, appear apparently mindless about the implications of conducting elections on the basis of a corrupt, flawed and compromised Voters’ Roll/Registry.
They maintain that the opposition lacks standing since it did not raise qualms about the integrity of the Voters Roll/Registry in the elections that brought Darius Dillon to the Senate.
Granted the opposition did not raise qualms about the Voters’ Roll/Registry in those elections, that does not obviate the obligation imposed by the Supreme Court to clean-up the Voters Roll/Registry.
Correspondingly also, it does not absolve the Supreme Court of the obligation to stand by its own decision (Stare Decisis) given in its 2017 mandate to the NEC to have the Voters’ Roll/Registry cleaned-up.
The Supreme Court in 2017 ordered the NEC to clean-up the Voters’ Roll/Registry following legal challenges to the elections results mounted by the opposition led by the Liberty Party leader, the late Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine.
The Chairman of NEC, Jerome Korkoyah, however disobeyed the mandate of the Court and held the run-off elections using the same compromised Voters’ Roll Registry. That mandate to NEC has since never been carried out.
Against the background of reports of widespread fraud, including multiple registrations, vote-buying, voter trucking, etc., in the just-ended VRU process, the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) filed before the Supreme Court a petition praying for a Writ of Mandamus seeking to have the Court enforce its 2017 VR clean-up mandate.
To the consternation of the parties and much to the dismay of the general public, Supreme Court Justice-in-Chambers, Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh, has refused to even hear the parties. Her refusal to do so has upped the ante, prompting the opposition to announce a public protest demonstration on October 28, 2020.
Others have also filed legal challenges seeking to place a bar on the holding of elections on December 8 until their concerns have been addressed. What all this means and where this may lead remains unclear.
However, it is clear that tension is rising to palpable levels but the national leadership appears unperturbed.
A local social activist (name withheld), speaking to the Daily Observer, said he is aware that the Police will respond to their protest with the use of excessive force and violence but, he said, they (protesters) will not be deterred by the threat of the use of force and violence, adding that he and others like him are prepared to die for their rights.
All things considered, President Weah is urged to deeply reflect on the implications of what are without doubt troubling developments. He must not be unmindful of the rising tide of public discontent spurred by harsh economic conditions that have worsened under his leadership.
Moreover, run-away public sector corruption with his officials being seen as key players, have only served to deepen the level of public resentment against this government.
If President Weah is not aware of this, then it certainly suggests that his officials are telling him lies and leading him to make grave errors of judgement.
A case in point is President Weah’s reaction to the deaths of the LRA duo who were discovered dead in a parked vehicle on Broad Street. Rather than expressing empathy, he, in rather cavalier fashion, wondered aloud whether their deaths were due to “boyfriend and girlfriend business”.
In the opinion of a retired top-ranked security official (name withheld), the President’s comments indicate that his security officials have been telling him lies seemingly as part of a cover-up scheme to protect those who planned, ordered and carried out the plan to murder the LRA auditors Albert Peters and Victoria ‘Gifty’ Lamah.
It is within the context of such a toxic political environment that the elections are scheduled to be held. And it is going ahead despite expressed public concerns about the glaring flaws and shortcomings observed in the VRU process, coupled with the stance of the Supreme Court which observers have described as a “dance with disaster”.
Such foolhardiness could prove a costly and dangerous undertaking. Those beating their chests and avowing that the December 8 elections will be held come hell or high water will be nowhere around when things fall apart.
President Weah is urged to take charge and do something before it is too late. His party stalwarts in the House of Representatives sat there twirling their thumbs, forgetting to remember that they were under constitutional obligation to notify the NEC of the vacancies created in their ranks by the deaths of Reps. Jay Nagbe Sloh and Munah Pelham Youngblood, within the required statutory period.
Instead, they are casting false blame on the opposition for their dereliction of duty. President Weah, having gone half-way through his term of office, still has some time left to effect meaningful changes.
Whether he can do so will determine how he will be remembered in history.
Like it or not, as leader of the nation, it is he who bears the greatest responsibility. The onus rests on him not Samuel Tweah, Nathaniel McGill, Bill Tweahway, Jefferson Koijee, Mulbah Morlu, Emmanuel Shaw, Archibald Bernard, Charles Bright or whoever else.
From experience, the public knows that they are likely to be the first to “cut their paypay” when trouble breaks. It happened to Tolbert, Doe, and Taylor and President Weah will be no exception.
Either he shirks this responsibility, surrender it to others or boldly take it upon his shoulders. Above all, President Weah should remain mindful that, in the final analysis, he will bear his cross alone.