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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

“MAY DAY” CALL TO THE US TO USE ITS LEVERAGE TO ENSURE FREE, FAIR, TRANSPARENT AND CREDIBLE ELECTIONS IN OCTOBER

Date:

An opinion by John H.T. Steward

LIBERIA – The hype attending the selection of Cllr. Charlyne Brumskine as running mate to ANC/CPP leader Alexander Cummings in Buchanan was perhaps intended to send a message to Cummings’ nemesis, Joseph Boakai that it is indeed Charlyne and not Nyonblee who commands overwhelming political support among the Bassa people.

And the organizers, it appeared, were trying their utmost to draw a larger crowd than that which attended Boakai’s selection of Senator Jeremiah Koung as his running mate. To make sure, a fleet of buses was hired to transport party supporters to the Buchanan event.

Critics say that the crowd that attended the Buchanan event was for the most part rented but CPP officials dismiss this. Currently, the CPP consists of the ANC and a faction of the Liberty Party led by Musa Bility.

The other faction of the Liberty Party is led by Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence but, both factions have been laying claim to the leadership of the party.

And the fact that Charlyne Brumskine, daughter of Charles Brumskine, founder of the Liberty Party, has waded into the fray and taken sides with Bility suggests that the cleavage has now become too wide and too deep to bridge.

And the fallout from this rift is certainly going to affect the fortunes of both Boakai and Cummings. This is because it is going to leave the people of Grand Bassa divided and neither side will be able to unite the people to support a single ticket.

Charlyne derives her support mainly from the Buchanan area and it is based on her father’s legacy but her greatest handicap is her inability to communicate with the Bassa people in their native language;

This is quite unlike her late father whose mantle she purports to bear. Although she sees herself as the natural successor to her father’s political legacy, she had never heretofore been involved in party politics unlike Nyonblee who was in top leadership when her father passed away.

Lest it be forgotten, Nyonblee also bears the legacy of her father the respected nonagenarian  Bassa elder and historian Dr. Abba Karnga who has been standing up for his people against the Liberia Agricultural Company (LAC’s) unlawful and illegal seizure of the Bassa people and. The disputes between the local people and LAC at one point degenerated into violence that left one person(a high ranking LAC official) dead, several wounded and properties destroyed.

Interestingly, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine was at the time the lawyer representing LAC against the Bassa people and their leader Bassa elder, Dr. Abba Karnga.

As the old man would recount, as a result of the death of the LAC official, he nearly went to jail on murder charges but was rescued by Cllr, Tiawan Saye Gongloe who came to his legal assistance free of charge.

During the ceremony held in Buchanan where Charlyne was named as running mate to Alexander Cummings, the respected Bassa elder Dr. Abba Karnga, father of Nyonblee was conspicuously absent.

Charlyne addressed the assembled audience in polished English with a strong American accent that did not seem to resonate with the assembled crowd as can be seen on video, suggesting in effect that she either did not get her message across or that she did so poorly.

This was Brumskine alright but not the vintage Charles Brumskine whose command of the Bassa language was par excellence and lent easily to effective communication with his people. As it appeared, her dance moves on stage was her way of connecting to the people. On the other hand, while Charlyne was getting her feet wet politically so to speak, Nyonblee was seen on video addressing a group of villagers outside Buchanan. And she was speaking to them in their native Bassa language.

So the question that arises is who of the pair(Nyonblee, Charlyne actually commands the support of the Bassa people assuming rightly or wrongly of course that the interests, be they political, economic or social of all Bassa people are either homogenous or monolithic. Will the majority of the Bassa people, for example, throw their support behind the Boakai-Koung ticket out of fidelity to Nyonblee? Correspondingly, will the majority of the Bassa people throw their support behind Cummings out of fidelity to Charlyne?

This is or should be a matter of crucial concern to CPP leader, Alexander Cummings who is yet plagued with the identity question.

That is, he does not have an identifiable political base on whose support he could count to propel him to the Presidency.

And trying as hard as he can, his campaign has so far failed to gain the kind of political traction that one would expect given his huge financial potency and the generous amounts of resources being expended. More to that Cummings is generally perceived as an elitist. Further, his choice of Charleyne as running mate has once again raised to the fore the issue of Americo-Liberian dominance of national political and economic life which lasted for over a century until the 1980 military coup.

Lest we forget or be mistaken, the real issue is class and not ethnicity. The composition of the Legislature for example is made up predominantly of indigenous Liberians.

But their tastes and preferences either mirror or are no different from those members of the former ruling class and they have a strong penchant for plunder and even murder as state power is their only pathway to wealth and influence.

They have passed laws and concession agreements that violate the rights of their own people, non-Congau people so to speak. The 64 bogus concession agreements out of 66 passed into law under President Sirleaf speaks to it.  It is against this backdrop that alleged machinations by former President Sirleaf to determine who becomes Liberia’s next president can be understood. Under Cummings, she can rest assured of the imposition of a neoliberal economic agenda on the backs of the Liberian people.

Both Alexander Cummings and Charlyne Brumskine are known to be business associates of President Sirleaf. Cummings according to informed sources allegedly once served on the board of US oil giant Chevron at the time it was engaged in bidding for oil blocks in Liberia.

Chevron is also said to have donated US$10m to the Sirleaf government for allegedly for “charity”. It was further alleged that the money was turned over to Robert Sirleaf which was never accounted for.

Quite clearly, President Sirleaf has a big stake in these elections because she has so much to hide and protect according to close former associates.

Should her bid for power through Cummings fail, she will ultimately fall back on George Weah who has so far done well so to speak in protecting her interests.

According to informed sources, George Weah is being touted in some US policy circles as the most pliable candidate and who amongst other things is mostly likely to agree and commit under Washington oversight to a multiple-user agreement concerning the Nimba-Buchanan railway.

An American company, Ivanhoe for the last few years according to reports has been pushing for a multi-user agreement for the railway.

Theirs is premised on the assumption that the rail and port facilities at Buchanan are national assets whose national ownership should not be compromised.

The hidden issue here is the rivalry and economic competition between the US and China. Arcelor Mittal Liberia(AML) is a major supplier of iron ore to the Chinese market while Ivanhoe, an American company,  it is believed, is interested in supplying ore to markets in the US.

Given China’s visible economic footprint in Liberia, there are fears, allegedly on the part of US officials that a future government could acquiesce to pressure from Arcelor Mittal Liberia and thus deny Ivanhoe access to the rail and port facilities which would ultimately serve to benefit China’s interests.

The other issue is a commitment to fighting corruption, especially money laundering and drug trafficking. According to informed sources, US officials are particularly concerned about the alleged involvement of the Lebanese terrorist organization Hizbollah in Liberia.

They comprised a gamut of activities ranging allegedly from drug smuggling, gun running, real estate to trading and drug trafficking.

Whatever may be the case, it is worth pointing out that it would be a grave mistake on the part of the US to support and maintain a highly corrupt government in office based on the perception that it can best protect US interests.

The lessons of Afghanistan where billions of dollars were spent and so many lives lost virtually in vain, should not be lost on all and sundry.

Liberians are longing for real change that will usher in a leadership which will end or break the cycle of impunity and corruption that is bleeding this country dry.

In the final analysis Liberians will have to make a choice between popularity and integrity. A presidential ticket which comes across as credible and one of integrity will certainly receive the crowning glory.

The United States of America, our oldest traditional ally out of whose womb this country was birthed, can do us, the Liberian people the greatest favor of assuring free, fair and credible elections in October.

Deliberate missteps by the National Elections Commission and the specter of violence which threatens to mar the elections constitute dangerous warning signs which cannot be ignored.

We can only hope that the US will use her leverage to ensure that free, fair, transparent violence-free and credible elections be held in October. This is a May Day Call!

Note: Smart News Liberia does not take responsibility for opinion articles. All comments and opinions expressed in them are solely those of the authors.

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Smart News Liberia is an online news outlet and a product of Smart Media Group Inc. Our website, smartnewsliberia.com, covers a broad spectrum of news content. For inquiries or information, you can reach us at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or email us at smartnewsliberia@gmail.com or info@smartnewsliberia.com.

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1 COMMENT

  1. PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE:

    It will be very good for ECOWAS, AU, UN, to prepare themselves for the coming general and presidential Elections, preserve peace, protect the commoners, opposition politicians, and incumbent President.
    It is too dangerous, to constantly be under the sound of war drums being beaten by both opposition leaders in and out of government, and also the incumbent leaderships.
    Therefore, and inview of the above, many unforeseen circumstances surrounding this 2023 presidential election that is marred by cheap propaganda, untold fabrication and also, due to lack of no understanding from both sides, I would appreciate, and appeal to all of the ☮️ Peacekeeping world organizations, in the Spirit of Truth, to take a preventative measures before it gets too late.
    Liberians and the foreign security, military personnel died in Liberia for the sake of ☮️ Peace. This, Peace, is gradually disappearing, and violence is moving in faster.
    Innocent citizens are dying on the daily busy.

    Government is heavily accused for these numerous “Extra Judicial killings” in Liberia.

    Opposition leaders, are you sure of yourselves, denying the fact, that you are innocent of the death of these peaceful citizens to prove yourselves?

    Every body wants power and at all cost, they must get the power. In this vein politicians, both opposition blocks and government officials should be fair to the Liberian people, because people are just dying without trace.

    My dear brothers, in social media, civil society groups, and all we’ll meaning Liberians, to use our ingenuity to provide at least one information leading to these mysterious deaths in the country.

    Opposition leaders, this challenge is yours, since indeed government officials have allegedly failed to so, because crimes are continue processes where human beings do exist. Since the unknown perpetrators in these series of killings can not be identified and apprehended, we need (our) your collective efforts to bring them to book.
    Thanks

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