Tuesday, August 23, 2011

....Liberian referendum marred by ballot error

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — Liberia's first constitutional referendum in 25 years was marred by error on Tuesday after the National Election Commission said it had distributed defective ballot papers.

Liberians are casting their votes on four amendments to the constitution, including one which asks citizens to increase the retirement age of Supreme Court judges. The referendum is seen as a test of the country's democracy and its voting mechanism ahead of the presidential vote later this year.
One of the ballots is supposed to ask voters to choose 70 or 75 years as the retirement age, but the ballot with the error lists 75 or 75, meaning that anyone voting on the proposition will have to choose the older retirement age, said Amos Koukou, deputy coordinator of the referendum organizing team.
Koukou said the error occurred because the voting material was printed in Denmark and arrived with the mistake already printed on the ballot paper.
"We sincerely apologize for this error," Koukou said, pleading with the public to understand it was not deliberate. He said a disclaimer had been posted at polling stations with instructions on how to vote despite the error.
The electoral body did not acknowledge the error until voters discovered it themselves and starting phoning radio stations. Even before the error was revealed, the country's leading opposition party had called for a boycott of the referendum which they say is designed to help the ruling party.
A caller who identified himself as Jerome Seo told a radio talk show that voters were leaving the stations because they were confused. "We don't know what we are voting for," he said.
On the same show, former Information Minister Emmanuel Bowier called the experience "total confusion," and said the National Elections Commission had not consulted experienced people to help design the ballots.
"Why didn't they scan the ballots, review, proofread, before printing theme," he asked on the radio program. "Damage control cannot start when the event is on."
Bowier was information minister during the rule of former President Samuel K. Doe.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is seeking a second term in this fall's presidential election was expected to leave the capital Tuesday to vote in her homeland of Bomi County, 37 miles (60 kilometers) west of Monrovia.
In addition to the retirement age of judges, voters will decide whether to change the election date from October to November in order to avoid the rainy season, and whether to reduce the residency requirement from 10 to five years for presidential and vice presidential contenders.
This fall's election will be only the second to be held since the end of Liberia's 2003 civil war.

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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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