Liberia Decides Its Future Today

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
October 11, 2005


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After fifteen years of senseless civil conflict that slaughtered over 250,000 hapless people in this West African country, elections are underway in Liberia. There is a heavy turnout! Some people claimed to have even slept at the polling centers just to have a shot at being the first to vote at their respective centers in these crucial elections. Others joined the queues as early as 4:00 am local time. They took their chairs, benches, stools and what have you in an effort to prepare for a long day. Some even sat on the ground. Liberians are voting for education, better health services, electricity, telecommunication, and better good road network, while others just vote for a change. UNMIL forces are plying the streets of Monrovia, to perhaps look for trouble makers or trouble spots.

We started the day at 72nd in Paynesville at about 5:30 am local time. The voters formed a T-line (three lines - each line of voters spanning about a mile). We visited three other centers in Paynesville. We also visited several centers in Congotown and Sinkor before proceeding to the Monrovia City Hall. The crowd at the City Hall was also incredible. But voters at all these centers are determined to be patient.

The process is not well organized. 72nd for example, which happens to be few miles from Jacob’s Town - 2004 trouble spot, the first two digits of the voter registration number series start from 11 and end at 15. This means that 11 would have been one line, 12 another line, and so forth. But this was not made known to the voters when the formed queues as early at 4:oo am. At about 7:45 am they were given the instruction to do so. Most people refused to do so because they did not want to loose their positions on line. The story is the same with other centers in the country. We just got the information that a lady even fainted on line in the process at the 72nd voting center. She joined the line at about 5:00 am and about 1:00 pm she had not had the opportunity to vote.

Road conditions are more likely to affect this election than lack of security. Some voters may not be able to get to the polling centers, while others who are trying to get home to vote may not be lucky to do so. We heard yesterday that William V. S. Tubman, Jr. who was traveling to his home county, Maryland, got stuck in the mud enroute to Harper. If he is still in the mud, he will not be able to vote in the mud, one observer pointed out.

The race is considered by many as a two-horse race, between international political figure Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and international Soccer figure George Weah, while others think that there could be some surprises. In any case, the voters have the final saying – they are deciding today.

On Thursday, Ellen assembled one of largest crowds that the city of Monrovia has even seen and on Saturday Mr. Weah paid back in kind. Some of his supporters walked from as far as Duala to Paynesville. They even declared the day as a national holiday. Fearing looting, all businesses in Monrovia closed their doors on that day. This fear even affected other candidates who re-launched their campaigns on Saturday: Varney Sherman, Roland Massaquoi, Charles Brumskine, and Togba-Nah Tipoteh. Mr. Sherman had the largest crowd next to Mr. Weah. He was followed by Mr. Massaquoi. Next was charles Brumskine who re-lauched at Jacob’s Town, followed by Dr. Tipoteh who re-launched at the Fish Market Field. The fear of violence from the members of Mr. Weah CDC members may have affected the turnouts. “CDC All The Way” to the Executive Mansion could be heard all over the city. The members are young people, excombatants and other Liberians who have fallen in love with Mr. Weah because of the way he bankrolled the national team during the throes of the Liberia civil conflict.