Liberia: The Hypocrisy of the Inter-Religious Council

0
WHILE IT IS TRUE that utterances can be interpreted in different ways, a body such as the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia must tread an even, fair and transparent path when handling matters as delicate as Liberians are witnessing today.

DURING A RECENT rally in Pleebo, Maryland County, Superintendent George A. Prowd Sr., made a startling revelation which was recorded on tape: “I don’t like to use the word anymore ruling party,” Prowd said referring to the governing Coalition for Democratic Change.  “We are the government party. We control the army, we control the police, we control everything – and we will utilize that authority that other people have utilize in the past in our country.”

WHEN THE INTER-RELIGIOUS COUNCIL announced last week that it was setting up a committee to look into utterances made by Senator Abraham Darius Dillon(Liberty Party, Montserrado County) in which he cautioned President George Weah and the ruling CDC government against trying to rig the upcoming Senatorial Midterm elections, Liberians on both sides of the aisle have been divided.

“I don’t like to use the word anymore ruling party. We are the government party. We control the army, we control the police, we control everything – and we will utilize that authority that other people have utilize in the past in our country.”

George A. Prowd Sr., Maryland County, Superintendent

SENATOR DILLON, appearing on the 50-50 Talk Show on 107.1 Sky FM last week cautioned that President George Weah’s tenure would end abruptly should the ruling party attempt tampering with the results of the December 8, 2020 Midterm Senatorial Elections.

FOLLOWING WEDNESDAY’S meeting with Senator Dillon, Sheikh Musa Mohammed Bamba, Secretary General of the Inter Religious Council of Liberia and an Executive Member of the Inter-Religious Council, one of several clergy members participating in the discussion, told legislative reporters that the interactive meeting offered a chance to hear from the Senator and advise him about how all Liberians need to be careful about utterances – and make sure that the country unites and move toward the December elections. “It’s obvious that when statements are made they have interpretations and it is always our concern to put it in the right perspective,” the clergyman said.

WHILE IT IS TRUE that utterances can be interpreted in different ways, a body such as the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia must tread an even, fair and transparent path when handling matters as delicate as Liberians are witnessing today.

THE UNPRECEDENTED history and consequences of disputed elections in Liberia must be the backdrop of any attempt to mediate on issues regarding claims and counterclaims of elections rigging.

AFTER ALL, it was here that in 1927, results showed a victory for Charles D.B. King of the True Whig Party who was re-elected for a third term after defeating Thomas J. Faulkner of the People’s Party.

THE RESULTS of the ’27 elections were problematic because it made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the most fraudulent election ever reported in history, as despite being fewer than 15,000 registered voters, King received around 243,000 votes, compared to 9,000 for Faulkner.

SIMILARLY, IN 1985, It was 1985 when Cllr. Emmett Harmon was at the helm of the National Elections Commission, the polling stations were marred by allegations of widespread fraud and rigging, the final results announced by Cllr. Harmon showed Doe won with 50.9% of the vote, just enough to avoid a runoff. Doe’s NDPL also won majority of the seats in both houses of the Legislature even as many believed the elections were actually won by LAP’s Jackson F. Doe, who officially finished second. 


AFTERWARDS, Numerous stories surfaced at the time that Doe had the ballots counted in a secret location and Harmon delivered what he was instructed to.


THE US STATE DEPARTMENT at the time declared that “there were some irregularities” during the election, but said: “the voting on the whole was well conducted with a large voter participation.”

SAID THE US STATE DEPARTMENT AT THE TIME: “These were the first multiparty elections ever held in Liberia on the basis of universal adult suffrage. . . . We have no independent information on vote tallies. The Liberian courts will have to assess charges of misconduct in the tabulation of votes which have been levied by both the government and the opposition. For our part, we have urged all Liberians to try to work together to meet the challenges which confront their country.”


JACKSON F. DOE and LAP announced boycott of the results immediately. “We do not intend to participate in a government which does not represent the dreams and aspirations of the Liberian people,” he said. The LAP standard bearer at the time argued that the elections commission lacked impartiality — that 20 of its members came from Samuel Doe’s home county and the rest were his professional supporters or relatives of Cabinet ministers.

AT THE TIME, many political watchers raised issue and expressed concerns as why it took 15 days to count only 500,000 votes. According to the election committee, delay was due to “logistical problems” and the complexity of counting votes for four candidates.


JUST LAST YEAR, violence followed the disputed election results in District 15 which nearly led to the death of candidate Telia Urey.

IN HIS DISCUSSIONS WITH THE Inter-Religious Council Wednesday, Senator Dillon took issue with the council for not standing up and speaking out against numerous ills in Liberia today. 

THE SENATOR REMINDED the council about the utterances made by Maryland Superintedent Prowd. “When the Superintendent of Maryland, all the way in Maryland, with evidence available, is saying that CDC is no longer just a party, they are the government, understandably, so they have control of the army, the police and all the state security apparatuses and they will use them to their full advantage, it is easy to remember District No. 15 election violence that almost got Telia Urey killed and scores of our people injured, property damaged with not one person prosecuted to date.”

TOO MANY DISCREPANCIES, too many injustices are going unchecked. Patrick Honnah’s Punch FM for example met all the requirements to launch, but has been given the run around in circles while new stations are popping up every other day. This is not a good sign for Liberia.

FOR SENATOR DILLON, the council has been turning a blind eye to a lot of happenings. “Twenty-five million US dollars infused in the economy or said to have been infused in the economy for quote on quote mop-up exercise, nobody talk what happened to that money to date. Two different report, including the Presidential Investigative Team report(PITT) clearly reported misgivings, misuse, misapplication of funds, criminal acts and those who presided over the infusion of that money are still walking around. The minister of finance has the audacity to demand an apology from opposition in the name of no money missing – and no US$25 million in question, we should apologize to them when evidence is right in their lap. To date, yet another US$25 million for quote-on-quote stimulus package for food distribution across the country is going dead and everyone is silent. But thank God we are having this discussion so that we know that I am a respecter of the law. I am a law-abiding citizen. I do not believe in violence; I do not believe in lawlessness.”

WE HOPE THAT Bishop D. Jensen Seyenkulo of the Lutheran Church of Liberia, First Vice President of the Liberian Council of Churches and an executive of the Interreligious Council means well when he said Wednesday that the discussion will extend to other officials of government. In fact, we hope they will even extend a hand to Superintendent Prowd, and ask him what did he mean by what he said regarding having control of the army and the police – and utilizing them to the governing party’s advantage as others did in the past?

TOO MANY DISCREPANCIES, too many injustices are going unchecked. Patrick Honnah’s Punch FM for example met all the requirements to launch but have been given the run around in circles while new stations are popping up every other day. This is not a good sign for Liberia.

LIBERIA CANNOT AFFORD to revert to the ugly chapters of yesterday. It is important that stakeholders and the Weah administration take a closer look at history and take steps to avoid a repeat of what let us down a path of destruction, war and division.

IT IS THE PEROGATIVE every Liberian to demand answers when utterances are made. In the same vein, it is the right of each and every Liberian to raise red flags when similarities of Liberia’s ugly past begin to show its face.

THE REASONS are glaring. President Weah has appointed former friends and ex-partisans on the National Elections Commission which puts other political parties and the opposition at a disadvantage. 

CONSIDERING LIBERIA’S brutal and rugged past, these decisions do not bode well for Liberia’s resurging democracy. Instead, they do raise strong questions about the direction the country is leaning. 

TOO MANY LIBERIANS died in an endless civil war as a result of disputed elections. The April 12, 1980 coup came as a result of one class feeling disenchanted and deprived of rights and privileges. 

LIBERIA CANNOT AFFORD to revert to the ugly chapters of yesterday. It is important that stakeholders and the Weah administration take a closer look at history and take steps to avoid a repeat of what let us down a path of destruction, war and division.

Comments
Loading...