Friday, September 10, 2010

Liberia - Secret Political Scheme Backfires


One thing that even critics credit the Sirleaf Administration for is its hands off on free speech and association.

But despite the freedom to associate without fear of status quo reprisal, a civil group known as Liberians for the Preservation of Peace and Democracy in Liberia (LPP-DL) chose to put together an underground scheme to "draft" certain Liberian political progressives into what they dubbed a sweeping campaign for president in the 2011 elections.

What form the draft will take, why the group started out underground, and what impact its tactics will have on the 2011 elections, are questions observers say beg answers. But already, the draft plan has backfired even before it got started. The Analyst, reports.

Labor Minister Tiawon Gongloe, a key rookie in LPP-DL's secret political draft scheme for vice president in the 2011 elections, says the group's plan is a mere wishful thinking and that he would rather campaign for President Sirleaf for second term.

The former human rights advocate, former solicitor general in the Sirleaf Administration, and now Labor Minister made the assertion in an interview with The Analyst yesterday.

Observers say the minister's reaction to the political scheme is an indicator that the scheme has effectively backfired and likely to disintegrate even before it reaches the appointed time of becoming public.

The assertions were triggered by the online article published this week, which revealed that the LPP-DL and its international extension groups were finalizing plans to "draft" Mr. Gongloe into a political campaign in which he would be a vice presidential running mate to Public Works Minister Cllr. Kofi Woods, himself a progressive and former human rights advocate.

The article said the secret political group has already tipped Cllr. Woods, without his knowledge, for draft into the campaign to run as presidential candidate.

The group reportedly doubted that Messrs. Gongloe and Woods would reject being drafted into the campaign that they say is sponsored by several businessmen in the country who do not want their identities revealed for fear of backlash from the Sirleaf Administration.

The group however noted that it has concluded several secret meetings in Liberia and abroad and that it would shortly make public its plans.

It gave no reasons for starting underground in a country that political observers say enjoys political freedom to the extent that potential presidential candidates have already begun confronting the incumbency outside the campaign season.

"The group's efforts are backed by a network of business people and labor union activists who feel the potential of Liberia sliding back into instability is very high unless some leadership is put in place that has no ties to Liberia's corruption and violent past," the article said.

What it did not say was what the group expects to happen when it comes public, and how prepared it was to handle any opposition to its campaign plans, since the administration it fears would be in power until at least February 2012.

It is also not clear what it would do now that its plan has backfired with the Gongloe disclaimer and open declaration that he supports President Sirleaf's bid for second term.

Gongloe disclaimer, support for Pres. Sirleaf

"Well, this is news to me. I just read it in your paper. I was not in town; I was in Maryland dealing with another issue. So, that's the first time I am hearing about it. But, as good as their intention is, I just want to clarify that my own plans are totally different. In the next few years, I will campaign for President Sirleaf so that the leadership that she has brought to this country can continue for the second term."

With this slap in the face of a disclaimer, the Labor Minister believes he has both laid the speculation to rest and set forth his political agenda to fend off potential drafters.

Mr. Gongloe said his rejection of the supposed draft and his current decision to support President Sirleaf in her second term bid was advised by a number of considerations, which were unrelated to his present position as cabinet minister or any future political benefit.

He said that instead of clamoring for the presidency, it was incumbent upon nationalistic Liberians to support the Sirleaf second term bid because it would ensure political continuity and secure the peace and security of Liberia.

He did not say why, but he noted that as a political progressive and human rights advocate who has been part of efforts for democracy and good governance in Liberia spanning well over four decades, he has come to the realization that a good national leadership required years of well-earned experience.

Of those currently lining up for the presidency, he said, none matched President Sirleaf on the level of leadership skills and experience.

Proof of this, he said, was that she was the first Liberian leader whose tenure was not marred by political upheaval since the last term of President Tolbert in the 1970's.

"For example, Madam Sirleaf is the first president to lead this country for five years without any conflict. The last term of President Tolbert ended 1980: there was a coup d'├ętat in 1980. In fact, three years into Samuel Doe's regime as head of the Peoples Redemption Council (PRC), there was a 1983 Nimba Raid that caused people to die," the once SUP standard-bearer said.

He came short of mentioning the aborted Taylor Administration, but claimed that the nation was now more reconciled than it had ever been and that it was steadily moving towards unity and national reconciliation.

"More investments are coming into the country; rule of law is being strengthened; there is greater accountability now than ever before; and the press in free; really; really free for the first time in our history," he noted, adding that the current achievements were signs of better days beyond 2011 under President Sirleaf.

The former lead counsel in the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) said even though Cllr. Kofi Woods was his best friend and colleague in the business of rights advocacy, it was unlikely that they would team up as political bedfellows as such as never been the basis of their social or professional relationship.

Whoever may have thought of him running as a presidential candidate therefore, he said, must have misread his political disposition, perhaps carried away by his past desire and work for good governance.

But he said whatever he sought as an advocate, he has found in large measure in the administration of President Sirleaf, contending that those who believe that neutrality meant honesty and leadership experience needed to reexamine their belief as neutrality could be adversative to nationalism under a number of circumstances.

Mr. Gongloe, who said he knew nothing about LPP-DL and its political extensions prior to the online article and The Analyst version said many hattai shop frequenters appeared to favor the so-called secret draft plan but that he has discouraged them from thinking that it would take roots.

Instead, he said, he has been telling them that he has a better plan that would take Liberia to greater heights and that, that plan, was to support President Sirleaf's second term bid.

"The way I see Liberia moving, being a political actor for a long time, with the level of developments that I am seeing across the country, I believe that President Sirleaf is the best for now. I believe she is someone who understands the political architecture," he said.

The labor minister, who said he was not trying to protect his job by the decision to reject the so-called secret draft plan, told The Analyst that most of professional life has been dictated by Divine intervention and that therefore he did not have to support what he conscientiously and politically has aversion for.

If did not personally believe in President Sirleaf's ability to lead the nation, he said, he would have resigned his post and taken up whatever challenge there was that would uplift Liberia. But he said there was no reason to do so now.

"From now onward, for Liberia's stability, peace and progress, I believe that Madam Sirleaf's second term will give us a firmer foundation for peace and development and that is what I am prepared to work for whether I am in the country or not," he vowed.

Meantime, Minister Gongloe has called on well-meaning Liberians to rally around President Sirleaf in order to hasten Liberia's economic recovery through the administration's "Lift Liberia" or poverty reduction strategy (PRS) plan.

"I think with the wealth of experience that Madam Sirleaf brought to the presidency, the experience that she has acquired during the last five years, and the one she will acquire by the end of her term, giving her a second chance will put us on a firmer path to peace and development," he said.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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