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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

LIBERIANS WE’RE PREPARING FOR THE FIRST REAL DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS IN THE HISTORY OF THE NATION

Date:

An opinion by Abdoulaye Dukule

Random Thoughts

The past. In 1984-85, Liberians we’re preparing for the first real democratic elections in the history of the nation. The trauma of the military coup was receding in our minds. Then elections came. They were all but democratic, free or fair. The steal was glaring. He had happened long before any ballot were cast. We are still counting the dead.

The present. Liberians are looking forward to “free, fair, transparent, and inclusive elections.” In less than a year. As usual, complacency takes over.

How can you have a credible electoral process when you don’t know how many people live in the country, who can vote, and where?!

The census that was to be carried out years ago has yet to begin. Dysfunction cannot describe the situation at LisGis, the agency.

The National Elections Commission – NEC – is facing challenges of its own. It is planning to use biometrics for the next elections. A competitive bidding process was launched. The Chair of the Commission unilaterally chose a vendor. The CPPP rejected the request. The company tried to demonstrate its work but failed. However, again, unilaterally, the Chair resubmitted the same vendor for a contract worth US $12 million.

The same Chair was indicted for giving a $180 thousand contract to her brothers.

How can she continue to run the elections commission? How can she be speaking to the press?

The media has raised this issue, in print and on social media. At home and in the Diaspora. Nothing changed.

Civil society has been quiet, as if they all died after international NGOs pulled out. The religious community talks about peace but doesn’t seem to connect bad elections and peace. It was just in 1985. The country is still bleeding from it.

Politicians seem to be the least concerned about the fact that they are dealing with a compromised election commission. As if they find her actions acceptable.

Rice is not a campaign issue. Liberians know when there is no rice. They know how bad things are. No need to remind them. How will you make a difference?

Do you want to win elections in a broken system? With a compromised elections chair twice indicted? You expect her to favor you over the person who could send her to jail if he were doing his job?

Do you know how many people are going to vote?

These are questions for the candidates. Senator Nyomblee K expressed her distrust in the Chair, but only as referring to her role in the party’s internal wrangling.

NEC and LisGis are the two institutions at the heart of the electoral process. Both are dysfunctional and led by less-than-scrupulous people.

ECOWAS has à early warning mechanism to deal with this type of situation. This is the time to reach out and force President Weah to take the necessary steps to prevent a constitutional crisis.

ECOWAS had warned Conde in Guinea, Ouattara in Abidjan, Keita in Mali, and Kabore in Burkina Faso against the flawed electoral processes they were embarking on. They did not listen and unfortunately, ECOWAS did not sanction them.

Liberia does not need to go back to 1984-1985.

President Weah has been silent as if nothing is going on.

Six months from now, Liberians will again “exercise their constitutional rights to demonstrate” and will walk to the US Embassy to present petitions. They will read speeches. Sing and dance.

And they will go through a flawed electoral process. And they will complain.

And they will move on. The culture of mediocrity.

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