Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sirleaf poised for reelection in tense Liberia vote

By Fran Blandy and Zoom Dosso | AFP

Liberia's Nobel-crowned president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was poised to win a second term Tuesday in a run-off marked by low turnout following a deadly shooting and her rival's boycott call. Amnesty International called for a shooting in which four opposition supporters were killed Monday to be probed, casting the shadow of Liberia's bloody past over the west African country's second post-war polls.

Sirleaf's challenger Winston Tubman cried foul after trailing Sirleaf in last month's first round but US President Barack Obama dismissed his fraud concerns as baseless and scolded him over his boycott call. Whether heeding Tubman's call or shielding from a repeat of Monday's deadly incident, voters turned out in small numbers for an election that looked certain to return the 73-year-old Sirleaf.

"I have come to vote but I am not happy for what happened yesterday, after all we are all Liberian and no one should be happy seeing other Liberians being killed," said Rita Queegbay, 39, one of only about 30 people at the Duport Road polling station.

Sirleaf's fellow Liberian Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee turned out to vote, saying the election was a "defining moment" for her country's fragile democracy, just eight years after the end of a long and brutal war.
"Liberians lived in fear for so many years and today people, regardless of the number of people ... have defied fear and intimidation and stepped out to vote," she told AFP. During a protest called by Tubman on Monday, at least four of his supporters were shot dead following clashes that broke out with riot police when the rally was prevented from turning into a march.

Amnesty International said the deaths should be investigated and added that "politicians and the police must demonstrate that their main concern is protecting lives." UN peacekeepers kept a strong presence around the city, and a UN helicopter circled in the skies. A small crowd of people remained gathered in front of Tubman's Congress for Democratic Change headquarters where the clashes took place. "They have decided to kill us, we are ready to die, How can you shoot at people who are not armed and go justify by saying that we were armed?" said 21-year old Albert Doe.

Tubman, a Harvard-trained former diplomat whose running mate is 2005 runner-up and former football star George Weah, was confident of victory before the October 11 first round. He claimed the ballot was riddled with irregularities but hundreds of local and foreign poll monitors gave the vote a clean bill of health and his boycott call earned him little sympathy abroad. "This historic vote is an opportunity for Liberians to strengthen the country's democracy, and to deepen its peace, prosperity and national unity," Obama said in a statement issued after the election-eve violence. "Liberia has taken important steps to consolidate its democracy since the end of its civil war. Those gains must not be set back by individuals who seek to disrupt the political process," he said.

A radio and television station owned by Weah and three other radios were shut down overnight following the violence. "Right after our evening broadcast police came and asked us to leave the premises of the station and closed it down," said Samukai Dukulay, senior broadcaster at Power television and Power FM. Liberia's opposition had complained that the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Sirleaf days before the first round was tantamount to foreign interference in the elections.

A darling of the West, Sirleaf is more of a controversial figure at home, where she has faced criticism over failed reconciliation efforts and what some see as a shady past. She has campaigned as the country's best chance to continue rebuilding with the help of the international community and prevent a return to violence in a country almost entirely reliant on the UN for security. "I know that nobody in this country, no matter what the talk or rhetoric, nobody really wants us to go back to war," she said before the vote.

The nation is still struggling to emerge from the aftermath of back-to-back civil conflict between 1989 and 2003 that left some 250,000 dead. ..

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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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