Traditional Leaders in Liberia Vow to Intervene in Election Deadlock


Monrovia – The National Traditional Council has said that it must intervene to settle the election dispute between the Liberty Party (LP) and the National Elections Commission (NEC).

Report by Bettie K. Johnson Mbayo, [email protected] 

Chief Zanzan Karwor, speaking through a translator, from his local Bassa vernacular into English, said the Traditional Council, as an advisory arm to the Liberian government, should be prepared at all times to maintain and make peace when the need arises.

He also stated that the Council has in time past settled disputes between and among different branches of government. 

Chief Karwor further stated that though the President of Liberia has the right to appoint and withdraw an appointment, however, those appointed should be answerable to the citizens.

“The NEC Chairman is appointed by the President; he said no one should question him.”

“But now we have people who are saying they are not satisfied so he has to listen to us as fathers and elders of land.” 

“The country is shaking; some of our chiefs are here to know why they didn’t vote on November 7.”

“I told them I couldn’t answer so I called the Peace Ambassador and others because confusion is about to come.”

“My fellow chiefs told me that they hadn’t been informed that there would be no run-off and they woke up and walked long distances to go and cast their ballot only to be told that the big people in Monrovia cancelled voting day because somebody took his friend to the big court.” 

“The time we should have voted we didn’t, the man who is doing the job at the Elections Commission says he can only speak to the woman, who appointed him.”

“We thanked the people who carried the complaint to the court because they didn’t go to the bush.”

“If war comes, we will suffer because we don’t have American papers.” 

“We must find a way to meet the President; the people in the House; and the Supreme Court.”

“We don’t want to leave it alone; we are their fathers.”

“The reason I want us meet the President is because she has worked for us very well and it’s only 2 months and how can we climax the 2 months?

We must climax her term peacefully,” Chief Karwor emphasized. 

He urged all politicians and ordinary Liberians to be patient and kind to one and another.

“If we don’t do what we are supposed to do and things go the wrong way, we all will be blamed.”

“Since you choose me, I haven’t brought shame to you, so we will talk with the people to maintain the peace,” he assured. 

“We are not politicians; our doors are opened. Everybody must come and ask the Traditional Council for pieces of advice.”

“The sweet country we had before is now soured. All the things our children have done let’s forget them.” 

The National Traditional Council leader thanked the Supreme Court for understanding the issue and handling the peace maturely.

He warned the media to be responsible in their reportage.

“Sometimes the headlines can be bad. This Liberia is looking up to all of us.”

“The country is like a bird and it’s in our hands and if we say it will die, it will die and if we say it will fly, it will fly.” 

Reminiscing his younger days, Chief Karwor said – “During our days, we all used to understand each other.”

“We the 16 tribes, but the mathematician or the book people came and said we were wrong; so we should change everything.” 

“The way we used to choose our leaders during Presidents Charles D.B King and William V. S.] Tubman times have changed.”

“If 6 persons were voting, we brought chairs and lined them up. You wear your gown if you want to be the chief.”

“The announcement will be given on the time to vote. 

“They will say go behind John or whosoever you want you hold the gown and the other hold your gown so everyone vote by standing behind the leader, that one was broad day justice.

“If we had misunderstanding, we go under the Kola tree and talk there. No one used to eat someone money and don’t vote for the person.” 

“What we call transparency is when everybody sees what’s happening.”

“But when the book people came they said the thing we were doing was wrong so we agreed and gave the power to our children.” 

“Our paramount chiefs were voted for. If anyone left in the river, that was his case.”

“In those days, when something happened the Paramount Chief took the case along with 12 persons and if there’s a foul play he will send it to the person next to him but when the white people came they established the Justice of the Peace.”

“If cassava got lost on the farm, it used to be our case, today we don’t used sassywood, what is happening?” 

“All of these powers is given to the police, what is the power of the Paramount chief? We used to carry people in hammock and they said it was slavery so we left that one.”

“They brought car but today nothing for the Paramount Chief, all of the power we had as chiefs, including and Clan chief, has been taken away so what is our role, now?”

“We never had any noise after we had voted for our leaders. But since your book people bring voter registration business, things na chala.”  

This is a local expression to mean everything is gone haywire or turned upside down. 

The meeting was attended by Liberia’s Peace Ambassador, Dr. William Tolbert, III, Cultural Ambassador Julie Endee, and other members of the traditional governing council.