Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rethinking Liberia’s 2011 Elections

Written by P. Nimley-Sie Tuon

Without Implementation Of The TRC Report

 As Liberia crawls towards the 2011 presidential and general elections, a powerful question is finding its way into the minds of many Liberians. Which is; can the 2011 elections consider credible without the implementation of the final report of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, or TRC? The strength of this question will continue to growth as the elections draw closer.

It has been more than a year since the final report was released and since then the Sirleaf government continues to vacillate regarding its duties and responsibilities when it comes to the implementation of the recommendations contained in the TRC report. As the implementation of the report lingers, any election held will not be considered democratically credible. What feuds credibility in the democratic process is not just people lining up to go vote, but the processes and decisions leading to the actual voting process. In other words, the end does not justify the means, it is the means by which the end is achieved that matters. At this point, the Sirleaf government, through the election commission, is opting for the end to justify the means.

The 2011 elections will be Liberia’s fourth in the last 25 years. The first two, 1985 and 1997, were followed by violence after failure to address some lingering issues. Political pundits and observers of Liberian politics believed had the laws of Liberia fully implemented and observed the results of these two elections would have been different. During the periods leading to these two elections, the laws were broken and the electoral processes configured in a way to ensure the victories of Mr. Samuel K. Doe and Mr. Charles Taylor. The 2011 electoral is threading on that same path. The electoral process is being configured to pave the way for President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s victory. The TRC report is being ignored; President Sirleaf using taxpayers sponsored events to wage and engaging in early campaigning even though the official campaign season has not started. The president and her political party, the Unity Party, were accused of using donated busses for the Monrovia City Corporation to transport the Unity Party partisans and supporters to their convention. Not forgetting using taxpayer’s events like the state of the nation address to declare her desire to seek another term, and the Independence Day celebration to receive campaign petition.

The Sirleaf government when it came to power in 2006 was not just another government winning an election, but a constitutionally elected transitional government that was supposed to have created a climate that would have made those behaviors that brought violence to Liberia on two occasions unpopular within the country. The Sirleaf government should have been a government of reforms, to transform Liberia and make sure that she moves away from her ugly past, a government that should have established the notion into the Liberian psych that the chips must always fall wherever they may. The Sirleaf government has failed to meet these requirements by its failure to fully and timely implement those recommendations contained in the TRC report. The TRC report outlined a systematic process by which the Sirleaf government could have set in motion the reform process to change Liberia for the better, especially, after President Sirleaf first promised not to seek another term. The TRC report, in the clearest terms, points to impunity as the culprit for violence in Liberia. President Sirleaf and others banned by the TRC report decision to seek political offices represents a vivid defiance of rule of law in Liberia. In addition, will serve as means to strengthen impunity. The Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission members were not some radical group who met in a dark alley and imposing its will on the government. It was a government institution established by an act of the Liberian Legislature making its decision law of the land.

The failure of the Sirleaf government to implement the TRC report, and rule within the confinement of the Liberian constitution, mean the democratic process launched during 2005 elections has failed, and as such, the 2011 elections cannot or will not be seen as credible but rather legitimizing the implanting of the True Whig Party-inspired old order that has failed the Liberian people, brought them death and destruction, continues to reign misery and poverty among them. An election is a contractual agreement between those that are elected and those that elected them. And when a contract is breached, it is recommended that the parties revert to their pre-contractual positions. As a country or a nation, under the leadership of Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Unity Party government has failed to meet our democratic goals of rule of law, fair play, equal opportunity for all, and a society free of impunity. Therefore, we should go back to our pre-2005 position by setting up a transitional government that will be charged with the full implementation of the TRC report and prepare Liberia for a true democratically inspired election.

The situation we are facing now is no different from those that existed during the periods leading to the elections of 1985 and 1997. Like the 1985 and 1997 elections, many are predicting that if the TRC report is implemented, and the rule of law fairly applied, the anticipated result currently being envisioned will be different. Raising fears that Liberia may face the same fate as she did after the elections of 1985 and 1997. Allowing and accepting the current electoral process to go ahead without the implementation of the TRC report means we Liberians are acquiescing or embracing the culture of impunity. This brings to mind some lyrics in a popular song by Nigerian singer, Prince Nico, that state “as you make your bed, so shall you lay on it”. In other words, we Liberians should be prepared to live with the consequences of our actions if we fail to act to ensure that those recommendations contained in the TRC report are implemented before having any election.

P. Nimley-Sie Tuon
Liberia Human Rights Campaign
Maryland, United States

News Headline

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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