Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Liberian presidential polls open despite boycott



Liberia riot police walk in a street near the
headquarters of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party in Monrovia.
A man was killed in the Liberian capital
when an opposition rally turned
violent on the eve of a run-off vote which
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's challenger
accuses the Nobel winner of rigging. (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)
 MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — Africa's first elected female president headed toward easy re-election Tuesday with her sole opponent boycotting Liberia's runoff, and ignoring entreaties from the United States and the U.N. to participate in what observers say is a free and fair vote.

The presidential election is the first being organized by the Liberian government rather than by the United Nations since the end of the country's horrific civil war eight years ago.

U.N. peacekeepers on Tuesday deployed to the opposition party headquarters, where one person was killed in rioting the day before. Armored personnel carriers stood guard at incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's home as she left to vote.

Winston Tubman, a former U.N. diplomat who dropped out of the race last week, called on his supporters to withhold their vote in protest.

The boycott won't stop Sirleaf from winning, but it could undercut her victory and delegitimize her government since she is running unopposed. International election monitors said Tubman's claims of fraud are unsubstantiated and both the United States and the U.N. Security Council issued sharp criticism, calling on him to reverse his decision and encouraging citizens to vote.

"It's about our future and our children's. Even if I don't want the government, it does not mean I can't vote," said Kollie Kennedy, who was waiting her turn at a polling station set up inside a Pentecostal church. "It's about Liberia."

Monie Cooper, who was near the front of the line at the same polling station in Monrovia, said elections are important.

"I call on those boycotting the poll to ignore the ignorance and show up to vote," she said.
In a country where more than one-third of adults cannot read, voters were handed ballots showing two sets of photographs.

On one end of the paper was the turbaned and spectacled incumbent Sirleaf, who was first elected five years ago and is seeking a second term. Because the ballots were already printed, Tubman's photograph could not be removed, but the effectiveness of his boycott was evident in the visibly reduced lines.

Some polling stations had no more than a dozen people waiting their turn. Whereas during the first round of voting last month, voters camped out on the pavement, then waited hours for their chance to cast their ballot, nearly an hour after polls opened Tuesday many of the polling stations in the capital had no one waiting to vote.

Latecomers simply walked up to the doors, showed their ID and were handed a ballot.

The day before the vote on Monday, Tubman's supporters clashed with police in violence that left at least one dead and four others injured with bullet wounds. Overnight, police stormed two opposition radio stations and shut them down, according to witnesses and employees of the stations.

Tubman said that the violence was further evidence that the vote should have been postponed, but most country experts and analysts say Tubman is boycotting not because of fears of fraud but because he knew he could not win.

"If you look at the figures, you can see that Tubman is almost certainly going to lose. He is 12, 13 points down in the polls," said Stephen Ellis, the author of a history of the Liberian civil war and a researcher at the African Studies Center in Leiden in the Netherlands. "It's an obvious calculation. He withholds legitimacy from the government," said Ellis. "If it was felt by a large part of population to not be legitimate, in a place like Liberia, with its history, it becomes quite worrying," he said.
___
Callimachi contributed to this report from Dakar, Senegal.

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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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