• November 20, 2023

HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM LIBERIAN ELECTIONS?

HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM LIBERIAN ELECTIONS?
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By Alusine Fullah

The outgoing President of Liberia allowed Liberians to freely choose their leaders and the next President. He didn’t weaponize the state security, or the electoral commission to win the elections. In Sierra Leone it was complete opposite. This was documented by EU Report which states: Demonstrative and disproportionate use of force by security agencies discouraged political activism, with the political climate becoming more tense starting from the second week of June. On 12, 13 and 21 June in several district capitals, including Freetown, police and military were deployed to the streets in large numbers.

It is like he genuinely and transparently sought the mandate of the people but unfortunately, Liberians have had enough of his rule. To the astonishment of many, his conceding speech demonstrated that George Weah was indeed a professional who belonged to a profession that respected rules and regulations. Has Sierra Leone learned from this? Have these PEOPLE, Mohamed Konneh, Samura Kamara and President Bio learned from the actions of Liberia NEC Commissioners, security forces and above all democratic principles of Liberia? If not, I think this is a wakeup call for all and sundry, especially for Bio, Konneh and Samura.

Democracy is popular sovereignty – in Abraham Lincoln’s words, ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people.’ The 2023 general elections attested to Sierra Leoneans’ strong commitment to democracy. On 24 June citizens in large numbers went to the polls to elect the president, members of the parliament, mayors, and local councilors. The recently revised legal framework gave hope for enhanced integrity in the conduct of the elections and greater gender parity in politics. However, voters’ trust in the credibility of elections was undermined by lack of transparency during critical stages of the process, particularly during the tabulation process, and by significant statistical inconsistencies in the results. An independent citizen observer group who voiced concerns was threatened and its leadership had to flee the country, which is indicative to democratic backsliding. The general elections held on 24 June 2023 were the fifth consecutive elections since the Republic of Sierra Leone returned from an 11-year period of civil war to civilian rule in 2002.

The ECSL’s lack of transparency affected confidence in the integrity of the elections and hindered the right of access to information and institutional accountability. Throughout the campaign, the EU EOM received and crosschecked information on at least 17 violent attacks. Those included the burning of an APC office in Bo district, vandalisation of further party offices in Kailahun and Pujehun, and armed attacks on party officials and some candidates in Pujehun, Kenema and Kambia with several of them being hospitalized. The security concerns led to the cancellation of scheduled APC rallies in some locations, and in the week before the elections, APC officials left Bo, Kailahun and Pujehun districts for fear of their safety.

History has written that Former President Weah was the first person to congratulate his main challenger, Joseph Boakai. But in our (Sierra Leone) case, Dr. Samura Kamara DID NOT DO that. Despite thousands of Sierra Leoneans were eagerly looking for Samura to do that, but ego and other self-interest actions pushed him so far to act so. For the love of Liberia, look at what Weah said:

I stand before you tonight with a heavy heart, but with the utmost respect for the democratic process that has defined our nation. As your President and the leader of the Coalition for Democratic Change, I want to address you on the outcome of the run-off elections held on November 14, 2023. The results announced tonight, though not final, indicate that Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai is in a lead that is insurmountable. A few moments ago, I spoke with President-elect Joseph N. Boakai to congratulate him on his victory and to offer my sincere commitment to working with him for the betterment of our beloved Liberia.

I extend my heartfelt congratulations to President-elect Boakai, his supporters, and his campaign team. May his presidency be marked by success for all Liberians, and may our nation prosper under his leadership. Tonight, as we acknowledge the results, let us also recognize that the true winners of these elections are the people of Liberia. Through your peaceful and orderly exercise of your constitutional right to vote, you have once again demonstrated your commitment to the democratic principles that bind us together as a nation.

Under my leadership, these elections were organized with a promise to the Liberian people – a promise of fairness, transparency, and credibility. I am proud to say that, for the most part, we have fulfilled that promise. The Liberian people have spoken, and their choice will be honored and obeyed.

At this juncture, I would like to congratulate the National Elections Commission for a job well done.  You have earned the respect of all Liberians, our foreign partners, international observers, and the world at large for completing this difficult task to the satisfaction of all stakeholders, including the contesting parties. However, the closeness of the results reveals a deep division within our country. As we transition to the new Boakai administration, we must be vigilant to the dangers of division and work together to find common ground. Now, more than ever, unity is paramount for the love of Mama Liberia.

To the members of the Mighty Coalition for Democratic Change, fellow partisans, CDCians, Weahcians, auxiliaries, first-time voters, campaign managers, and party leaders, I understand that this is not the outcome we desired.  Although we did not emerge victorious, your hard work and support have been the backbone of our campaign, and for that, I am deeply grateful.

I urge you to follow my example and accept the results of the elections. Go home tonight with the knowledge that our ideals and vision for Liberia remain strong. We are a young movement, and our time will come again. Tomorrow, resume your daily activities in a normal way, and come and join me at our party headquarters to reflect on our journey and plan for our return to political leadership in 2029.

MY FELLOW LIBERIANS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

Tonight, the CDC has lost the election, but Liberia has won.  This is a time for graciousness in defeat, a time to place our country above party, and patriotism above personal interest. I remain your President until the handover of power, and I will continue to work for the good of Liberia. Let us heal the divisions caused by the campaign and come together as One Nation and One United People.

Former Liberia President Weah accepted defeat in his country’s election with dignity and respect and maintained his country’s dignity and respect. Africa is looking more statesmen like president Weah who are willing to relinquish power with grace. Democracy is strong in Liberia.

Mohamed Konneh’s NEC commissioner sister, Mrs. Davidetta Browne Lansanah from Liberal has received millions of integrity awards both nationally and internationally. But in Sierra Leone, there have been a lot of questions on the integrity of the Commissioner; Mohamed K. Konneh and his entire team. Also, questions about the transparency of the elections were full to the brink.

There was also a serious bone of contention for the release of disaggregated data. Depending on whom you ask, some say President Bio did not win the elections. Mrs. Davidetta Browne Lansanah is the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC). She was appointed on 10th April, 2020 by the President of Liberia, H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah who had earlier nominated and appointed her as Co-chair on 3rd April 2020 following her confirmation by the Liberian Senate.

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