Dr. Joseph Korto Says LAP is not Democratic, Withdraws from Nomination Process

By Winsley S. Nanka, CPA

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
May 13, 2005


Dr. Joseph Korto, one of the presidential aspirants for the 2005 presidential election in Liberia has withdrawn his name from the nomination process of the Liberia Action party. His withdrawal came in the letter he sent to the party’s executives on May 10, 2005 in which he indicated that the party lacks “internal democracy”. Therefore, making it difficult for him to compete for the nomination. Below is the full next of Dr. Joseph Korto’s letter obtained by The Perspective:

Dear Madam Chair:

I extend to you, the National Executive Committee, and partisans my warmest greetings. It is with heavy heart that I send you this communication, which I do agree it is coming a little too late in the sense of its purpose. I was awaiting a reply to my last letter sent you and the Executive Committee before taking a final decision on this matter. That reply never came despite the wait causing the delays. However, I do hope and trust that you and the entire LAP Family will understand and respect my positions herein stated. Please know that I intend to make this communication public.

As you are aware, a little over two years ago, I declared my intent to seek the endorsement and nomination of our party as its candidate for President of Liberia in the ensuing General and Presidential Elections. It is with deep regret that I inform the party of my decision not to contest for the position of Standard Bearer in consideration of circumstances of the planned nomination exercises. Please be informed also that I do not plan to be a part of the National Convention.

The decision, in the above respects, can be best described in the sense of “Necessary evil”, meaning something of a painful nature, but that which the circumstances are so compelling in order to avoid. The reasons compelling this painful decision at the eleventh hour are many, and they speak directly to my personal political beliefs and the vision I hold with passion for new and better political values, attitudes and practices in Liberia. However, for the purpose of this communication, I do not intend to provide any specifics at this time. I certainly owe the party and the public a full explanation, which will come at the appropriate time.

Having said the above, I wish to make two positions known and clear. In
the first respect, I hold as a matter of true conviction that by contesting for the position of Standard Bearer, under the current circumstances, I will lend undue credence to the nominating process in the sense of a competitive democratic exercise. Given its circumstances, a belief of a process consistent with democratic values and standards will be misleading for the planned party nomination.

As the second position, the May 13-14 National Convention will undoubtedly now feature uncontested nomination for Party Standard Bearer. Thus, I hold also as a matter of true conviction that my presence and participation in the Convention will only send the wrong message of a willing concession, on my part, to deliver the party nomination on silver platter to my lone opponent. Such belief would be very far from the truth of the circumstances of my decision not to contest.

As a matter of necessary clarification, nothing here said in the above positions should suggest any hint at a possible intent to challenge the outcome of the planned LAP nomination, despite my serious concerns over the plans and manner of approach. The only point of interest as these positions are concerned is that I take the necessary precaution not to lend undue credence to the process as described above.

Although the full background explanation is to come as promised, a summary of the reasons that brought about the decisions herein stated is necessary for the purpose of this communication. You will recall my past communications of February 20, and April 20, 2005, respectively, addressed to the National Executive Committee. These communications raised a number of issues and offered suggestions and proposals all directed at enhancing internal democracy in the nomination of our party’s presidential candidate, as well as improving the party’s image in preparation for the elections.

These communications were particularly interested in a nomination process that will prove consistent with acceptable democratic values and standards. For example, the proposals and suggestions advanced were primarily supportive of judging those of us aspiring for the presidency, the nation’s highest office of trust, more on the basis of knowledge of the issues, needs and problems of the country and the leadership vision we hold, respectively, for addressing them. Against the background of our Liberian political experience, the quantity of resources a candidate is able to bring to a party is important, but it should never be the decisive ground for support and endorsement.

Of particular mention, the communication of February 20 clearly advocated for a nominating process that, for example, would be interested in the track records and public opinions association with individual aspirants. For the important reason, it must be understood that it is not just the few delegates and party loyalists to assemble at convention that will bring the vote necessary to elect the party’s candidate as president. Rather, it is the absolute majority of all that will be casting votes in the election. It is for this reason that the issues of track records and public opinions must count in the nomination decision.

I must admit that my absence from the country did affect my ability to more effectively push agendas with the National Executive Committee and the Party. Nevertheless, the communications of reference in this letter were too major and so important not to have been accorded the courtesy of formal replies. I must clarify also that I became a true innocent victim of negative perceptions and opinions held of our party. In the game of politics, perception is often realty, and this came to prove true in the case of my candidacy. Fundraising for my campaign has experienced problems on account of negative perceptions associated with LAP. For instance, many contacted for contribution declined on ground that contributions made to my campaign will directly or indirectly benefit activities of a party (LAP) widely believed to be benefiting from public funds at the expense of public good. As you are aware, the accusation that LAP has access to public funds with fingers pointed at Chairman Bryant of the National Transitional Government and LAP Former National Chair is public knowledge, and a topic of media discussions.

In a second respect, many political friends and admirers that would have readily contributed to my political cause do hold the general belief that LAP is a party already with a pre-ordained candidate for the presidency. Accordingly, they also believe that the party’s nomination process, at best, will be a mockery of competitive democratic process. As some put it squarely, “Supporting you for the race for Standard Bearer in LAP is politically meaningless because the process is being tailored for the advantage of a pre-selected candidate.

In conclusion, to the many LAP partisans, whose support I have come to enjoy, and who believe in my potential as a better candidate for the party, I know what feelings this forced decision brings to you. My true heart of regrets and disappointment goes out to you. As a brotherly and patriotic advice, do not give up hope on me so soon. One is never a failure until you have quit trying.

I wish all of you a joyous and rewarding National Convention.

Yours truly,

Joseph D. Z. Korto