The reschedule of this year Special Senatorial Elections for fifteen (15) incumbent lawmakers of the fifteen counties from October to December due to the spread of the deadly COVID-19, placed Liberia and its citizens in the annals of history, as National Elections Commission (NEC) tabulates the results from the Tuesday, December 8 polls during which more than 2 million eligible voters turned out across the country.
The government, in March this year, took some measures including the closure of schools, imposition of curfew and the declaration of a State of Emergency following reports that former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Executive Director, Dr. Nathaniel Blama, came down with COVID-19 after he returned from Europe.
Later in June, the Executive Branch of government formally communicated with members of the 54th National Legislature, seeking their indulgence for the postponement of the Special Senatorial Elections and the National Referendum from October to December, citing the spread of COVID-19 in Liberia.
As the Liberian nation has risen to the occasion to prove pessimists wrong that the entire electoral process this year was heading towards a cesspool of violence and lawlessness, in consideration of the reported broken promise of the current ruling establishment to bring to book individuals who were previously suspected to be involved in separate acts of electoral violence in Montserrado County’s Districts 13 and 15 during the erstwhile by-elections, the peace and serenity that effectively characterized the December 8 polls should be seen by all and sundry as a major turning point as it relates to cultivating democratic maturity and its accompanying socio-economic growth and development in our post-conflict nation.
With the progressive results trickling in and everyone waiting with baited breath for the final pronouncement from the National Elections Commission (NEC) of the winners and those who have been defeated, it becomes necessary for us, as a nation, to transcend the jangling discord of narrow-mindedness and sadism, and seize the moment by moving beyond the scope of individualism to embrace the outcome of the Tuesday polls with clear and open-minds and to focus on addressing the broader issues of endemic and systemic corruption, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), jobs creation, rule of law, revitalization of the nation’s declining educational system, provision of pure and safe drinking water, electricity among other basic social services across the country.
Although the atmosphere after Tuesday polls remains relatively calm especially after remarks by some elements within the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) that they must “win at all cost”, while others vowed before God and the Nation to resign their respective influential, powerful and well-paid positions within the hierarchy of the governing party and the public sectors if the opposition led by the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) wins Montserrado County.
Amidst this development, many political commentators including naysayers have been parading, via social media outlets with presumptions that incumbent senator Abraham Darius Dillon of the CPP has been re-elected for nine (9) years, we think only the National Elections Commission (NEC), is the only body clothed with the legal authority to pronounce the winners and others who have been rejected by the Liberian electorate at the polls and subsequently dumped in the dustbin of Liberia’s electoral history as flunkies.
We say this simply because despite the pre-election acts of violence and lawlessness including looting, shooting and arson that occurred in Grand Cape Mount County, no serious election violence has erupted during the December 8 polls.
Nevertheless, some keen political analysts and commentators foreseen a simmering dissatisfaction underneath the prevailing atmosphere of ‘quietude’ in the country that, in their opinion, could explode with indelible negative consequences, if social media posts mainly emanating from individuals believed be loyalists of political parties, coalitions, alliances and independent candidates and their lackeys are not controlled before the final results are released.
Frankly, we are afraid that the somewhat current social media war between and amongst supporters of the ruling CDC and the opposition political parties and other stakeholders could undermine the integrity and credibility of the December 8, 2020 election result.
This is why, we, at THE INDEPENDENT, are calling on all well-meaning Liberians at home and abroad to avoid the loose trading of allusions that might spur tension, violence and lawlessness in Liberia, which had already graduated from decades of civil war with catastrophic consequences.
Perhaps, we need to give a reminder that during the recent presidential elections in nearby Guinea and Ivory Coast, the electoral commissions in those two neighboring countries were accused of being responsible for the confusions that led to wanton violence including destruction of precious lives and properties and effectively triggered exodus of internal and external migration. The severe consequences of such violence actions in Guinea and Ivory Coast are now open secrets.
While we all must maintain explicit trust and confidence in the NEC which is being assisted by Liberia’s international partners led by ECOWAS, it is also expected of the NEC to be above reproach. It must not behave like the controversial election commissions in the Ivory Coast and Guinea, which were widely believed to have been manipulated by the ruling elites in the two neighboring countries despite their separate denial of such claims. All political parties and independent candidates and their supporters including ordinary Liberians as well as other stakeholders should continue to work for nothing less than peace and tranquility in this post-election era.
Let no one, in his/her mind be driven by the truncated quest for power to put innocent people including the youths into the principal streets to trumpet their dissatisfaction when the final results of the 8, December polls and referendum are released by the NEC.
Anyone who may feel aggrieved by the outcome of the polls must use available peaceful means or the due process of law to seek the necessary redress as diametrically opposed to the application of raw violence which has the potential to drag the Liberian nation to its ugly past when it sadly but effectively became a “Pariah State” and a “Problem child” in the West African sub-region for decades.
We should take stock of the madness that engulfed this nation and strive to carve a niche that will propel Liberia from the inglorious experience of yesteryears to the pedestal of socio-economic growth and prosperity including infrastructural and technological sophistication and to be on path with other civilized nations worldwide.
In avoiding any violence outbreak, we, as a government and nation, must prevail on NEC to make some adjustments in its information and public awareness strategies by being proactive in addressing the concerns of those who may feel aggrieved.