For the last few days, President Weah has been on the campaign path traveling from one county to the next to promote candidates of his choice. His recent whirlwind visits to Grand Bassa, Bong, Cape Mount and Bomi, intended to shore up support for candidates of his choice have reportedly been received with little interest.
It appears certain that the December 8 election will indeed, constitute a litmus test of President Weah’s popularity as he mulls a second-term quest in October 2023. His exhortation to citizens of Bong county calling on them to support the candidacy of incumbent Senator Henry Yallah appears to have been poorly received by the people of Bong County, according to sources.
In Bomi, President Weah railed at Representative Edwin Snowe, accusing him of misdirecting resources he (President Weah) donated to the people of Bomi sometime ago. According to the President, he even donated solar lights to the people of Bomi through Representative Snowe, which he claims was his personal gift to the people of Bomi.
Reports from Bomi say that reaction to the President’s rants against Representative Snowe and his call for support to former House Speaker Alex Tyler did not resonate. Sources say Tyler, who hails from Monoh in Klay District, enjoys very little or no support from the people of that district. They maintain that during his tenure at the House, he did little or nothing for the people of Monoh, let alone Bomi County.
However, it appears the President’s biggest hope for a massive victory at the polls is pinned on the outcome of the Montserrado polls. And it appears no stone is being left unturned in order to secure the much-desired victory. The candidate of his choice, Thomas Fallah, has been on the campaign trail distributing wads of cash consisting of brand new 500 Liberian dollar banknotes.
Fallah’s cash distribution spree of brand-new Liberian dollar banknotes is happening at a time when the public is faced with an acute shortage of Liberian dollar banknotes, although over L$4 billion of such notes have been printed. Banks are issuing out mutilated notes to their customers who are forced to receive same.
Also, customers wishing to access ATM machines at the various banks have been frustrated by the non-availability of banknotes at the ATMs. Customers are complaining bitterly about being denied access to their accounts, while local banks are complaining about huge overdrafts owed by the Government of Liberia through the Central Bank of Liberia.
The public, however, suspects that the huge amount of cash being distributed in and around Montserrado county, especially in Monrovia by candidate Thomas Fallah, came from the stash of money imported by into country recently and possibly from the missing L$16 billion. This is breeding public resentment directed at this government.
And this explains why the air is tension-filled, going by what is being aired on the various radio talk-shows around the country. It does appear, from all indications, that the current economic downturn and its accompanying hardships will be a constant in these elections, militating against candidates of the CDC in general.
Gone indeed are the times, it appears, when just a nod or wave of the hand by George Weah was enough, far more than enough needed to send his favored candidate(s) cruising to victory at the polls. This was demonstrated during the last Montserrado elections which saw Darius Dillon pitted against President Weah’s chosen candidate, Paulita Wie, and crushing her decisively at the polls.
Now just how the lack of a credible Voters Roll/Final Registration Roll (FRR) will play out during the elections remain to be seen. It should however be noted that the National Elections Commission may be remiss in its duties and accordingly fail to publish and post the FRR for public vetting before the conduct of the polls.
Should this be the case, it can be reasonably expected that there will be trouble on polling day when voters discover for example, that their names are not included on the FRR. Such a situation occurred during the 2017 elections and it gave rise to the illegal use of what then NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoyah called an “Addendum Roll”.
On reflection, then President Sirleaf was fully aware of this, but chose to ignore such violations of the law by Chairman Korkoyah because, by then, it was clear that she had a hand in the elections. The visit to her home by NEC Elections Magistrates accompanied by Korkoyah and a former UN official, just on the eve of elections, clearly revealed her intent to manipulate the elections results.
According to pundits, the hand of President Weah is being seen in these upcoming elections just as the hand of President Sirleaf was seen in the 2017 elections. Back then, President Sirleaf had the presence of a residual force well-armed UN troops, with air power back-up in the Ivory Coast to bolster her or counter any violence arising from electoral disputes.
Their presence, nevertheless, did nothing to forestall the rise in tension, neither did it deter the parties from taking the matter to court on grounds of fraud. It was however Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine’s foresight and exercise of restraint that for the most part served to defuse the tension, which was at boiling point.
But that was then, unlike now, where there are no UN troops in country. The country’s fledging military has limited strength and a poor human rights record, despite training by US military officers.
Its poor human rights record compares similarly to that of state security institutions, particularly the Liberia National Police. And, they are, according to former law enforcement officials, reinforced by a rag-tag group of irregulars composed of notorious criminals, gang leaders and ex-fighters. If this is what emboldens officials to flout the law, believing in the might of their security, they could be in for a quite rude awakening when push comes to shove, according to former law enforcement officials. What force on earth can stop the rage of an angry and united people, they ask?