Monday, October 10, 2011

Nobel in hand, Liberia's leader seeks re-election

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — She may have won this year's Nobel Peace Prize, but even that may not be enough to persuade voters in this nation with 80 percent unemployment to re-elect President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Tuesday.
The 72-year-old Harvard-educated leader suffers from a rare paradox: She is lionized abroad and her star has continued to rise, but her popularity at home has waned over claims that she has done too little to alleviate the nation's crushing poverty.
"One out of every three Liberians cannot feed themselves. They live in abject poverty. And they couldn't care less about the Nobel prize," said 60-year-old Charles Brumskine, one of 15 opposition candidates facing Sirleaf in Tuesday's election.
"There's a disconnect between how she is seen abroad and how she is seen here. Ellen will be lucky to get 10 percent of the vote in tomorrow's election."
Few dispute that the nation Sirleaf inherited five years ago was one of the most broken, its social fabric irreparably damaged by a 14-year civil war that left the countryside dotted with mass graves. Some towns were so hard-hit you could walk for blocks and not find one building that had been spared. Years later, judges still preside over courtrooms that have holes in the walls and nurses tend to patients in wards with blasted-out doors.
Sirleaf's achievements include getting $5 billion of the country's international debt wiped clean, allowing Liberia to establish a sovereign credit rating, a precondition for issuing bonds. Her government has built clinics, schools and roads, though her critics say she has built too few. And despite the deep wounds inflicted by the civil war, she is credited with maintaining peace.
In Oslo on Friday, the Nobel Committee awarded her and two other female activists the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, citing their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women.
Even those who support Sirleaf say the problem is that her accom
plishments are mostly intangible and Liberia remains deeply impoverished, with only one in five people able to find work, according to a 2008 U.N. report.
Only some 8,000 customers receive piped water in Monrovia, the capital of 1.5 million. There isn't even running water in the building that houses the state water utility.
"My feeling has been from early on that Liberians had unrealistic expectations of what anybody could do," said West Africa expert Mike McGovern, an anthropologist at Yale University.
"The country has been pulverized by the war — the health system, the education system, the roads, everything was so destroyed that even an influx of money the likes which we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan would not have fixed everything. And frankly the amount of money that has gone to Liberia has been a few drops in the bucket by comparison," he said.
Sirleaf was elected in 2005, becoming the first African woman to be democratically elected. She defeated soccer sensation George Weah, who came in second and who lost the race in part because of his lack of formal education.
Weah, a former FIFA World Player of the Year, is again her main contender. However, in a move intended to silence critics he has agreed to run as the No. 2 on a ticket alongside presidential candidate Winston Tubman, who like Sirleaf was educated at Harvard. Weah also recently earned a business degree from DeVry University in Miami.
"It's good that we have another Harvard graduate who is going to be in the race, but what is important is not where you went to school," Tubman told The Associated Press. "It's what you are doing. And Mrs. Sirleaf has had almost six years now to demonstrate what she can do."
It's not difficult to point to problems in this nation of 3.8 million.
More women die in childbirth here than in almost any other nation. So do children under 5. Despite the flow of aid and eight years of peace, Liberia has only inched up two spots from the bottom of the United Nations index tracking development. Liberia ranks 162nd on the 168-country index — up from 164th a few years ago.
Another criticism of Sirleaf is her alleged role in the nation's civil war.
In front of Liberia's truth and reconciliation commission, Sirleaf acknowledged having given money to warlord Charles Taylor, whose rebels invaded in 1989, marking the start of the 14-year conflict. She argued she stopped financing Taylor when his ruthless tactics became clear.
Taylor is awaiting judgment on charges of crimes against humanity at the Hague.
Human rights experts have described Sirleaf's role in the conflict as minimal, but opposition candidates lambasted the Oslo Committee for awarding her the Peace prize. Tubman accuses the president of bringing wars and hardships to Liberia instead of peace.
"But there is another way to look at it," Tubman said. "Mrs. Sirleaf is about to leave power. She's about to be voted out of power by her people. So it is good that she has a consolation prize."
Associated Press staffer Rukmini Callimachi contributed to this report from Dakar, Senegal.

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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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