Tuesday, September 20, 2011

LIBERIA MAY BE HEADING FOR A CRISIS


By TQ HARRIS, JR.
With less than five weeks before the holding of Presidential and Legislative Elections the false calm has given way to crippling fear. Liberians are living with deep uncertainties as to their safety and security, and no one seems to have answers. Many have begun appealing to friends and relatives abroad for financial assistance to leave the country before Election Day. Others are stocking up food and water fearing the worst. Are the fears warranted? Yes. From all indications Liberia is heading for a crisis. 
The massive international peace and reconstruction efforts launched by the international community eight years ago under the leadership of Africa’s first female president at the cost of several Billion dollars has fallen short of expectation.  However there is still time to put a halt on the ensuing violence, but this will require leadership, strong arm twisting, and serious flexing of muscles. After all, this is Africa -- an extremely rough terrain.
Having spoke consistently in the past five and a half years of a peaceful Liberia, but failing to ensure Liberians reconcile their differences following one of Africa’s most brutal wars; President Sirleaf to the astonishment of many announced recently that thousands of Nigerians troops are headed for Liberia to prevent possible post-elections violence. Interestingly, this is happening at the same time when the United Nations is drawing down its troops having been in the country since 2003. It is clear we yet again have missed the mark.  
Notwithstanding, it is difficult to oppose the President’s decision to increase the number of troops on the ground when it is evident tension is rising. But many are asking, what will happen a month, two months or even six months following the elections, or when the troops are gone? Is bringing in additional troops the answer to national healing? Isn’t this an escalation of violence?  
Any efforts intended to prevent violence during and, or after the elections must first seek to address political and constitutional issues that are contributing to the increase in tension. And the process must be legal, credible and transparent. The decision by the National Elections Commission to disregard both the Constitution and results of the recent Referendum has raised further concerns as to the legitimacy of the impending elections and its final outcome.
Article 52(c ) of the Liberian Constitution in context and intent forbids a person from seeking the office of President and Vice President who has not resided in the country for ten years leading up to the time of his or her election. It must be noted this particular Article was added to the Constitution a hundred and thirty-nine years following ratification of the original Constitution. It was done under the leadership of the military ruler whose intent, as framed by the civilians that drafted the 1986 Constitution, was purposely designed to exclude Liberians living abroad from competing against him in an election. There is no further interpretation or explanation for the residency clause in the current Constitution.
Though Article 52(c) in and of itself may be unjust, irrelevant and unnecessary, however, it is enshrined in the current Constitution; hence the law must be upheld if results of the impending election are to be legitimate. Any attempt to circumvent the Constitution on account of expediency may result in disaster.   
There are, however, alternatives which must be considered before the ballots are cast in order to avert the impending crisis; these are as follows:
1.       The National Elections Commission must uphold the law and disqualify all presidential and vice presidential candidates that do not meet the 10-year residency requirement and proceed with the conduct of legislative elections in accordance with Article 83(b) – Absolute majority.
2.       Convene immediately a national conference where stakeholders shall discuss residency of presidential and vice presidential candidates and election of legislative candidates to be followed by a vote to determine the way forward as it relates to these issues.
3.       Convene immediately a national conference where stakeholders shall discuss formation of an interim government which shall be tasked with resolving issues pertaining to residency of presidential and vice presidential candidates [Article 52(c)] and Election of legislative candidates [Article 83(b)], and the TRC recommendations, as well as other critical issues that are impacting the upcoming elections.
To avoid a national crisis there must be dialogue, negotiation, compromise and upholding the rule of law. It is high time Liberians address the hard issues and effect lasting solution to lingering problems. Greed on the part of a few has led to polarization of the populace which benefits no one. This election offers an opportunity to start anew and place the country on an irreversible path to real prosperity. Let us, therefore, not again engage in acts of lawlessness which has led to the fall of this nation.
The best victory this election could produce is one where everyone wins! When the people win, there will be no need to import Nigerian troops, or for UN peacekeepers to remain in the country, or for anyone to fear the TRC recommendations.
If postponing the impending elections and setting up an interim government is the best way to achieve lasting peace and stability, let us do it. We must get it right this time! To this end, political leaders must demonstrate leadership by instilling confidence in their followers and lower the temperature.  

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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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