Liberia – Echoes of Interim Government – Ushering Mirrors of Fear


THE AFTERMATH of the October elections is being marred by a lot of hatred and gutter politics. Snippets of comments on the social media Facebook point to a growing number of anger and dissatisfaction being thrown around from both sides of the aisle.

EVEN AS THE NATIONAL Elections Commission prepare to hold the run-off elections on November 7, 2017, murmurs are flying around that some forces are pushing for the setting up of an interim government due to the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the just-ended elections.

THE FIVE LEADING finishers in the first round have all cried foul and made observations about the conduct of the elections.

THE UNCERTAINTY is giving rise to concerns that Liberia may be following the footsteps of Kenya where opposition boycott of the rerun over fears of irregularities forced authorities to indefinitely delay further attempts to hold the vote in some opposition areas due to the risk of violence.

WE ARE UNSURE where this is all going.

IN THE ABSENCE of a Supreme Court ruling over a complaint filed by the opposition Liberty Party, nothing is guaranteed and it is not certain that a runoff will take place on November 7, 2017.

THE CONCEPT of an interim government is not new to Liberia, a few were organized at different periods as Liberia struggled to make painful transitions from dictatorship to some semblance of democracy.

FOLLOWING THE DEATH of Samuel Doe, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervened and succeeded in preventing Charles Taylor from capturing Monrovia.

WHAT FOLLOWED next was the first of many interim government arrangements, the first, an Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU) formed in The Gambia under the auspices of ECOWAS in October 1990 and Dr. Amos Sawyer became President. Taylor refused to work with the interim government and continued war.

DAVID DONALD KPORMAKPOR, a former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, led the first Chairman of the Council of State from March 7, 1994 until 1 September 1995 during the height of the first Liberian civil war; Ruth Sando Fahnbulleh Perry served as the interim Chair of the Council from September 3, 1996 until 2 August 1997; Wilton Sankawulo served as the chairman of the Council of State from September 1, 1995, until September 3, 1996.

IN 2005, The international community again intervened and helped set up a transitional government (National Transitional Government of Liberia) led by Charles Gyude Bryant, who steered the course until the general elections of 2005.

IN EACH OF THESE arrangements, Liberia endured periods of uncertainty with various warring factions looking to loot what they could under a sea of uncertainty, lack of governance, accountability and transparency.

ALL THAT CAME to an end in January 2006 when Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was inaugurated as the first woman to lead an African nation.

THE PAST YEARS have not been all that rosy but Liberia has endured peace.

LITTLE BY LITTLE, we have somehow managed to pick up the pieces of war and build infrastructures. We are not fully where we want to be, but in time, and through multiple trial and errors, we may just get there.

LIBERIA HAS SO far had three democratic elections. The most recent, which featured 20 candidates, is yet to be decided but the first round has produced yet another runoff elections scenario with George Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change in pole position with 38.4% and Joseph Nyumah Boakai second with 28.8%.

CLLR. CHARLES WALKER Brumskine who finished third with nearly 20% further back on 9.6%, accumulated only one quarter of Weah’s vote and one third of Boakai’s vote.

ROUNDING UP THE TOP FIVE, Senator Prince Y. Johnson of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction, MDR received a total of 127, 666 votes, constituting 8.2 percent, while Alexander B. Cummings of the Alternative National Congress, ANC obtained a total of 112, 067 votes amounting to 7.2 percent of the total votes cast on October 10, 2017.

BRUMSKINE HAS prepared what appears to be strong case claiming that the elections were rigged.

IN FILINGS BEFORE the Supreme Court, the party says it is taking issue with late change of polling stations and the controversial voter registration roll.

THE PARTY CONTENDS: “The Carter Center reported that, “Observers reported that the SMS system for verifying voter registration data was not being widely used when voter were not found on the list. Further although the NEC established a hotline for presiding officers to check voter data, this fact was not sufficiently disseminated, and observers did not see it being used.”

BOTH THE National Democratic Institute (NDI), the Carter Center and the European Union Observation Mission have concluded that the elections were ‘peaceful’ and ‘generally well-conducted’.

THE EUROPEAN UNION ELECTION Observation Mission stated that ‘overall conduct of the voting was generally assessed as either good or very good’ and the head of the AU observers group, Erastus Mwencha, said Liberia is proving to the world that she is properly nurturing her emerging democracy. ‘Politically we see that there is calm and the nation is at peace with itself.’

WHILE MANY are making comparisons to the ongoing situation in Kenya, the conditions are not necessarily the same. The Liberian situation is clearly different from Kenya where Uhuru Kenyatta had already exceeded 55% and meant there was no second round, thereby creating the need for a re-run.

FOR THE SAKE OF PEACE we would hope that calmer heads prevail and allow democracy and the courts to decide.

WHAT WE HATE TO SEE is anything resembling an interim government where feuding parties will once again to stitch up a new election where they will use the levers and resources of the State to cling to power.

WE STRONG BELIEVE that those advocating for such are risking the stability of a fragile democracy.

WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT is for all parties to respect the clear will of the Liberian people and avoid the trappings of anything resembling chaos, confusion and violence that will only lead us to a painful chapter of an ugly past.

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