High Expectation -Liberians Again
By: Bob Fallah
These elections were a special arrangement as a result of 14 years of
civil conflict which have devastated Liberia. As a result, the Economic
Community of West African States (ECOWAS), backed by the international community
arrangement through the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) as a panacea
of resolving the civil conflict.
In the CPA, October 11 was set aside as a date for Liberians to democratically elect their choice of leaders for the governance of a peaceful Liberia and restore stability for the over 3.5 million people who as a result of the war were either displaced, died or refugees in other countries.
For many, two- year time frame was not realistic and doubts were cast on 11 October 2005 as a possible date for holding elections given the complicated nature of Liberian situation .
The CPA brought in the transitional government, the Disarmament, Demobilization,
Re-integration and Resettlement (DDRR) and now elections.
Actually, the implementation of these portions of the CPA has been a tough drive by the actors, but with the presence of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the process continues to sail smoothly.
Like all the elections which I have participated in, the expectations
of electorate or voters are usually very high about the would -be president
or leadership for that matter.
For instance, in the 1985 general and presidential elections the following parties - the National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL), Liberia Action Party (LAP), Unity Party (UP) and the Liberia Unification Party (LUP) did participate. Nevertheless, the level of people’s expectations and hopes was somehow thwarted as they were being led by the military regime of the late Samuel K. Doe. He unfortunately changed the entire political chemistry at the time to remain in power which was indeed, a continuation of the military regime under the falsehood of civilian president.
Consequently, the misapplication of democratic process in 1985 cost the
lives of many Liberians when there was an invasion led by one time Commanding
General of the Armed Forces of Liberia, Thomas Quiwenkpa. The series of
events that followed resulted to the 1989 revolution led by Charles Taylor.
Really, Liberians have been in search of democratic change that would move
the country and its citizens to the zenith of good governance where human
rights, justice for all and economic transparency will be the order of the
day for our society as enshrined by the global community.
Again, the Taylor-led revolution culminated into holding elections in 1997 through the efforts of our West African brothers under the banner of Economic Community Peace Monitoring Group (ECOMOG). These elections saw the participation of 13 candidates in the presidential race.
All in all, what remains the crux of the matter is that whenever election time approaches, especially in campaign times, voters are usually confronted with promises from these candidates: such as stability, reconstruction, good road network, education, health care delivery system, etc. Unfortunately, when these politicians are elected or given the gavel of power by the people, the hopes of the people then become a fantasy as these elected officials usually turn their backs to the people. For example, the 1997 elections which gave the former ruling party, National Patriotic Party (NPP) the power to rule could not deliver the goods as people expected it to do.
In fact, the NPP led-administration fell short of its promises blaming
LURD and the international community for its shortcoming. The failure of
the NPP-led government to meet the demands of the people as promised brought
about the destabilization of Taylor-led administration which subsequently
forced him into exiled in Calaba, Nigeria.
The October 11 elections, now history, saw twenty two presidential candidates vying for one seat, while over 700 contested for just 64 senatorial and legislative seats. The process witnessed by several foreign guests or observers as well as journalists from major media institutions around the world was violent- free.
With the continuation of preliminary results, Liberians are already with high expectation as they have been promised by their leaders. Following several weeks of campaign with promises for the reconstruction of war-turn Liberia in all sectors, expectations are high again that the in-coming government will have a big task in meeting the demands of its citizenry.
To satisfy such high expectations, the next leadership must be composed of men and women of substance. They must be selfless and people who know how to play the political ballgame because it requires strength and wisdom to succeed in politics especially in a situation like ours where the fabric of the state is completely broken down.