IN THE AFTERMATH of Liberia’s November 14 presidential run-off election, the nation finds itself at a crossroads, with the electoral divide laying bare the deep-seated regionalism that threatens to undermine the very fabric of national unity. The stark contrast in voting patterns between the Southeastern counties and Nimba raises concerns about the potential long-term consequences of this division and the need for a concerted effort to bridge the gaps that threaten to persist.
THE ELECTION results reveal a concerning trend, as five Southeastern counties rallied overwhelmingly behind outgoing President George Weah, predominantly due to his regional roots. In a nation still healing from the wounds of a brutal civil war, such regional voting patterns evoke memories of past divisions that fueled the conflict. It is disheartening to witness the recurrence of geographical loyalties overshadowing the broader national interest.
NIMBA COUNTY, a key player in Liberian politics with its significant vote share, chose a different path. With 74.14% of its votes cast for Joseph Boakai, whose running mate hails from Nimba, this county stood in stark contrast to the Southeastern bloc. The allegiance to a native son, combined with the assurance of potential presidential leadership, underscored the intricate web of local politics influencing national decisions.
LOFA COUNTY, too, exhibited a similar trend by giving 64.6% of its vote to Joseph Boakai, a kinsman. This regional concentration of electoral support further emphasizes the potency of tribal affiliations and regional ties in shaping political preferences, potentially at the expense of national cohesion.
WHILE THE TOTAL margin of victory for Joseph Boakai was relatively small, just over 25,000 votes from a total of 1,608,395 valid votes, the broader implications of this election run deeper than mere numbers. The divide between the Southeastern counties and Nimba, and the rest of the regions if left unaddressed, could deepen existing fault lines and pave the way for more significant fractures in the future.
THIS IS WHY we agree with outgoing President George Weah when he stated in his concession speech that: “These vehicles, provided by the Korean Government on the request of Amb. Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., Minister of Foreign Affairs and Dean of the Cabinet will be turned over to Foreign Minister Kemayah on Wednesday, November 22, 2023 by the Korean Ambassador for use by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
LIBERIA’S TUMULTUOUS history, scarred by a brutal civil war driven by ethnic and religious extremism, serves as a haunting reminder of the consequences of divisive politics. The wounds inflicted during those dark years are still fresh, and the nation cannot afford to allow itself to be drawn into a cycle of regionalism that undermines the progress made toward national reconciliation.
IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT, Liberia’s internal divisions raise concerns about the resilience of fledgling democracies in the face of regionalism and identity politics. The world has witnessed how such divisions can be exploited by external actors, leading to destabilization and conflict.
THE INTERNATIONAL community, too, has a role to play in supporting Liberia’s efforts to foster national unity. Diplomatic pressure, economic assistance, and collaboration on conflict prevention strategies can contribute to the consolidation of democratic institutions and the promotion of inclusivity. Liberia’s experience should serve as a cautionary tale for other nations grappling with similar challenges, reinforcing the importance of fostering unity in diversity.
AS LIBERIA NAVIGATES the aftermath of the November 14 election, it is crucial for political leaders, civil society, and citizens to come together in a spirit of dialogue and reconciliation. Addressing the root causes of regionalism, promoting inclusive governance, and fostering a sense of national identity are imperative for ensuring that Liberia’s future is not marred by the shadows of its divisive past. The November 14 election should serve as a wake-up call, prompting a collective commitment to building a united and resilient Liberia that transcends regional boundaries and tribal affiliations.