By Jacob N.B. Parley
Liberia’s electoral body- the National Elections Commission (NEC), on Monday, 20th, November 2023 announced the results of the Presidential Runoff Elections, with Ambassador Joseph Nyumah Boakai of the Unity Party winning the race with 814,481 votes, constituting 50.64%, while incumbent President George Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) obtained 793,914 votes, accounting for 49.36%.
“Hence, the presidential ticket of candidates Joseph N. Boakai and Jeremiah K. Koung of the Unity Party is declared by the Commission as winner of the 14 November 2023 run-off election,” NEC Chairperson, Davidetta Browne Lansanah said.
However, before the NEC could arrive at this point, President Weah, on 17th November conceded defeat to opposition leader Joseph Boakai after the tightly contested race. The outgoing Liberian Chief Executive’s brief statement to the nation was able to bring the needed relief to the country and by extension, the international community, especially for an electoral process that was characterized by tension, violence, disunity, tribal sentiments and other allegations traded by the two parties in the run off.
“A few moments ago, I spoke with President- elect Joseph Boakai to congratulate him on his victory and I urge you to follow my example and accept the results of the elections,” President Weah said, in a radio broadcast.
President Weah’s acceptance of the results of the tension-bursting electoral process has undoubtedly added value to Liberia’s democratic credentials, evidenced by the increasing words of commendations from across the globe.
On the other hand, Liberian Chief Executive-elect, Joseph N. Boakai’s recent statement to lead by example, be a leader for all Liberians, irrespective of political, religious, ethnic backgrounds, also worth commendation.
In addition, Ambassador Boakai has told Liberians and the world at large, that development will touch every part or region of Liberia, meaning that exclusion, marginalization, division, discrimination will have no room in the Unity Party-led government under his watch. His assurance to lead by example by healing the wounds arising from the electoral process will include giving all Liberians the opportunity to serve in his government; of course, the issue of competence and integrity will not equally be swept under the carpet. I strongly believe that President Weah’s decision (conceding defeat) and President-elect Boakai’s pledge to be president for all Liberians irrespective of any background means that they have put Liberia first. Congratulations, Ambassador Boakai for your victory and thanks to outgoing President Weah for accepting the will of the people.
The moment official campaign for the 2023 Presidential Elections began on August 5, 2023, I ran an opinion about the significance of peaceful elections in Liberia, taking into account the tension, violence, intolerance, tribal sentiments, that were gradually making their way into the process.
The Opinion,” Liberians and the Unambiguous Cry for Peaceful Elections” was widely published in several local dailies.
As we entered the second phase of the electoral process (Runoff), I ran another media opinion under the caption: “Eventually There Shall Be No Victor, No Vanquish- A Lesson Worth Learning!
Thanks to the Heritage, New Democrat, In profile Daily, Smart News Liberia, New Public Trust Media, Informer, etc., for the spaces provided for the publications.
The two previous opinions were intended to guide against the danger violence poses to an electoral process, especially with reference to Liberia’s brutal civil war that saw about 250,000 innocent lives lost.
In part two of my opinion, I had journalistically hypothesized that once we kept the electoral process peaceful, a win for either of the two candidates going for the November 14, 2023 Run of Election would have meant a victory for Liberia, not for an individual, political party or any other group for that matter.
History shows that accepting the outcome elections form the context of Africa is a contentious issue because it is not easy for those losing to concede, especially for a sitting president.
However, Liberia has made another great history as outgoing Liberian Chief Executive, George Manneh Weah, was able to conceded defeat. President Weah, in my opinion defied odds, considering the power, influence, the presidency commands to have accepted the will of the Liberian people, as expressed through the ballot box on 14th November, 2023.
For those who might not have read the two articles being referenced, here are some of the happenings that led to the publications: 1. One day I was returning from work, riding on a three- wheeler (“Keh-keh”) from the S.K. D. Boulevard to Barnesville Junction. The fellow running the three-wheeler was playing one of the campaign sons for the CDC (Yor- Yor- Yor, Gbekugbeh Want Talk To US, Yor).
I can’t remember any of us (previous passengers) having any problem with the song, not until when an elderly man got on board around the Military Baptist Church in the 7nd Community. The moment the elderly man got on board he started demanding that the boy should cut off the song. “I say cut off that dam song I don’t want to hear it, I say cut it off now, I’m speaking to you,” demanded the elderly man over and over. The fellow said: “But “papay” (reference to an ageing man) I started playing this song before you came, so please take time how you talk to me.” The fellow’s refusal to yield to the oldman’s demand led to a heated argument to the extent that he started calling the boy certain names. There were some for and others against. After listening to the two sides, I appealed to boy to lower the volume of the tape a bit as I was trying to engage the old man in a polite manner to equally slow down with his demand.
“Old man, if that is the issue about the high volume of the song, I am talking to him to lower it and please be mindful how you engage him because he’s doing his little hustle and that song could be that of his party or maybe he’s playing it to entertain his passengers,” I pleaded. But the moment I made this point, the elderly man used an unfriendly word on me and even went to the point of accusing me of backing the fellow. Realizing that the old man was overwhelmed with emotion, I had to disembark to avoid the unexpected from a passenger who was very melodramatic in his utterances and at the same time becoming unreasonable in his argument.
- On Saturday, October 21, 2023, I went on the road (Barnesville Estate) to watch the football game between my favorite English team (Manchester United) and Sheffield United. During the game, another heated argument ensued between two motorcyclists over each other’s political choice. From what I was following, the two motorcyclists are friends. But the moment one said he was shifting his support from the CDC to the Unity Party (UP) in the event of a run off, his colleague angrily accused him of being a traitor. “Oh, my man (reference to his colleague), so all this thing we doing you Unity Party man?” As his friend tried to give reasons for his latest decision, he took serious exception and remarked: “From today I will be careful with you because you are working against my interest.”
The heated argument almost led to a fist fight to the extent that so some of us had to leave prematurely.
It makes no sense for us to be at one another’s throats because of politics; it makes no sense for us to fight among ourselves because of politics and it makes no sense to call others all the wrong names and undeserved characterizations because of their political choices.
About the author:
Jacob Parley is a Liberian media professional, with over twenty-five years of extensive practice, both print and electronic. He is a Former Vice President of the Press Union of Liberia, Former News Director; Editor-in-Chief, Executive Mansion Correspondent, etc. (Liberia Broadcasting System). He earned a Post Graduate Diploma in Modern Development Diplomacy from the Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Service Institute, carries over ten journalism certificates, two of which were earned from the People’s Republic of China, etc. He’s reachable through: firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.comContacts: +231777604576/886560455 WhatsApp: +231881336137